Whenever a tragedy such as last week’s attack in Norway occurs, the first instinct of many is to ask how the perpetrator was able to get hold of a gun, and shortly after to conclude that Something Must Be Done About Guns. Among those to speak out after Friday’s horror was Dennis Hennigan, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Mr. Hennigan suggested that “such a tragedy in Norway likely will lead to determined efforts to further examine their nation’s gun policies.”
Whether it will or not remains to be seen, but history shows us that this would be the wrong response. Those who are willing to break the laws against murder do not care about the regulation of firearms, and will get hold of weapons whether doing so is legal or not. As the old trope goes, to expect a mass-murderer to be concerned that his firearm is obtained outside the law is akin to expecting a truck bomber to fret that his vehicle is occupying two parking spaces. Put simply, gun laws do not hit their target.
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