With another death might come another battle.
It remains to be seen if Monday’s news of a shooting of five high school students in Chardon, Ohio (including at least three deaths) will ignite yet another skirmish in the political trench warfare about guns, but if so, we know the drill.
Pro-gun advocates will seize upon the news to argue that looser gun laws will allow citizens to protect themselves because, after all, criminals can always carry guns.
Pro-gun control advocates will argue that stricter gun laws are in order because less guns will mean less gun violence.
Yes, the conversation will be bitter, repetitive and get nowhere.
But don’t be fooled — there is a correct answer in this debate, and it does not involve both sides being right.
Beyond the rhetoric and pointless posturing, it’s worth asking how people obtain guns and what the law can do to affect this.
One market dynamic experts point to is the flow of guns in interstate trafficking, when guns from states with lax regulations are transported to surrounding states and sold on the black market.
For instance, in the early 1990s, the great state of Virginia had the dubious position of the number one provider of guns to the Northeast, with studies by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showing that about one in four handguns confiscated in New York City and one in three in Washington, D.C., originated in Virginia.
As a counter-measure, Gov. Doug Wilder proposed a one-handgun-a-month law: a sensible idea that hampered the ability of traffickers to buy guns in bulk. And the thing is, the law had an effect.
According to a study of the ATF, the probability that a gun used in a crime in the Northeast originated in Virginia dropped by about two-thirds after the passage of the law.
Unfortunately, these facts don’t seem to exist in the alternative universe that the Virginia General Assembly is living in.
As it stands now, a bill to repeal the one-handgun-a-month law is sitting just one John Hancock from the governor away from becoming law.
It doesn’t take a bunch of nerds to realize there’s no compelling reason for making the purchase of a handgun as easy as popping Skittles into your mouth.
But of course, that’s not the end of it. The one-per-month repeal is only one of a delightful number of gun-related bills the Virginia Legislature is considering.
In one bill just passed by the Senate, gun buy-back programs are forced to sell the weapons they acquire instead of destroying them, which you think would defeat the purpose of getting weapons off the street.
In a second bill, the Legislature steps on the right of private businesses to ban their employees from storing guns and ammunition in employee parking lots.
Yet another would ban local governments from requiring fingerprints as part of the application process for concealed handgun permits.
These bills are ridiculous, nonsensical and go beyond any sort of right encapsulated in the Second Amendment.
As one Virginia state senator has pointed out, it is now easier to buy a gun in Virginia than it is to vote.
This startling conclusion brings into focus the true priorities of the gun lobby.
The Second Amendment, always paranoid at its core, has been twisted and perverted into a generalized “fundamental right” to guns, and advocates have used this to place their hedonistic desires for metal toys above the safety of our children and the health of our democracy.
In some ways it’s almost amusing to imagine all the handguns you could buy and the silly things you could do with them.
But take a second and remember the two high-school students who died this week — ask them how funny they find guns.