Did you hear what Al Gore said about the National Zoo shooting?
It was the day after Easter when a gang fight broke out at the
Washington tourist attraction. Seven children were wounded — one was
listed in grave condition. Last I heard, the 11-year-old most severely
hurt was listed as brain dead.
But if anyone connected with this story is truly brain dead, it’s got
to be the vice president.
Without the benefit of having a clue as to the nature of the
shootings and who was responsible, presidential-wannabe Gore was making
political hay out of it — exploiting another senseless tragedy for his
own career ambitions.
“We really have to have mandatory child safety trigger locks, and
photo license IDs for the purchase of new handguns,” he told a crowd in
New York City hours after the shooting.
Excuse me? Trigger locks? Just how would trigger locks have prevented
a deliberate act of violence and terror like this?
In case Mr. Gore doesn’t realize it, the purpose of trigger locks is
to prevent accidental gun deaths by children — not deliberate acts of
Of course, nobody stops to think about these things when emotions are
running high. We all feel a sense of helplessness after a mass shooting
like this one. And politicians like Al Gore and Bill Clinton
instinctively, reflexively manipulate those public emotions so
effectively. It’s what they do for a living. They’re pros.
Gore has made trigger locks and gun control in general a cornerstone
of his presidential campaign. He also says he would ban possession of
guns in churches, which would, by definition, make them safe for
gun-toting lawbreakers only. Mark my words. If, when and where such laws
are passed, violence in churches will increase. The next time some
maniac wants to kill a bunch of people fast, he’ll have a choice of
targets — public schools and churches.
But back to trigger locks for a moment. Everybody seems to love them
— including gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association.
Nobody seems to mind that they will be totally ineffectual and certainly
counterproductive if the purpose is to save innocent lives.
First of all, accidental gun deaths among children are extremely
rare. According to John Lott, the esteemed researcher on the subject of
gun violence, the annual rate of accidental gun deaths for children 10
and younger in New York City is 1.2. That’s right. On average, 1.2 New
York children are killed accidentally with a gun every year. There are
2.6 million children in that age group in New York. There are 3.3
million adults owning at least one gun. Yet, only 1 kid per year is
killed accidentally with a gun.
That’s amazing! And it certainly defies the hype from the Clinton
“Well,” you say, “even if only one kid could be saved, the imposition
of trigger locks would be worth the extra cost and inconvenience to the
But there’s another cost you’re forgetting. The cost in lives.
You see, guns actually deter criminals. Americans use guns
defensively about 2 million times each year — five times more
frequently than the 430,000 times guns are used to commit crimes. And
the best part is that simply brandishing a gun stops the attack 98
percent of the time.
So, even if you have young kids you are worried about, trigger locks
don’t make sense. The increased time it takes to get the gun ready to
deter a criminal will assuredly result in more good guys biting the
dust. Similarly, laws that require people to lock up their guns for
their own safety are in fact killing more innocent people. It does not,
as conventional wisdom suggests, result in fewer accidental gun deaths
or fewer suicides.
Again, 15 states that adopted such laws between 1977 and 1996 saw
murders skyrocket annually by 300 and rapes by 3,860.
“Oh,” you say, “but such laws are popular, Farah. You’re just out of
step with the times and reality.”
Not so. In fact, the most recent poll on this subject by Zogby
International shows that most Americans want to solve gun violence by
prosecuting criminals who use a gun. Only 2.2 percent think more
legislation from Congress is the best solution.
But I don’t care if trigger locks and other sissy laws like them are
popular or not. Truth is truth, right is right and wrong is wrong. And
the truth is that guns in the hands of responsible, law-abiding citizens
are right. And restrictions on the use of guns by responsible,
law-abiding citizens are wrong.
Nothing Al Gore can say or do will ever change that fact.