Reuters Cites Wisconsin's 'Permissive Gun Laws' in Connection With the Sikh Temple Massacre


Wade Michael Page, the Army veteran identified as the gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, yesterday, reportedly was armed with a legally purchased 9mm pistol. Not much for gun controllers to work with there: The gun would not qualify as an "assault weapon," and it's not even clear that Page's "multiple ammunition magazines" held more than 10 rounds each. (Even if they did, he apparently had no problem swapping them.) Reuters does the best it can with this material:

Authorities said the gunman had used a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which was recovered at the scene. They were trying to track the origin of the weapon.

Wisconsin has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country. It passed a law in 2011 allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon.

Thirty-nine states have nondiscretionary carry permit laws, meaning people can get one if they meet a few objective criteria (generally including a clean record and some sort of training), while in three other states (Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont) people can carry concealed handguns without a permit. So Wisconsin is hardly unusual in this respect and was actually late to the trend. More to the point, a man bent on mass murder is not likely to be deterred by the fact that carrying his gun to the site of the attack is illegal.

In contrast with Reuters, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has been uncharacteristically cautious so far, seizing on the temple massacre as yet another reason to sign a monumentally vague petition asking politicians to "do something about the toll of gun violence on our nation." The petition tries to reassure the wary by saying "it is time we acknowledged" that "the Second Amendment to the constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms." Having done that, we need to "put aside partisan politics and look for solutions that will save lives." See how simple?

Addendum: The Guardian, like Reuters, says Wisconsin "has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country," noting that "last year it passed a law allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon." CBS, however, reports that "Page did not have the additional permit needed to legally carry a concealed weapon"—which shows he could not possibly have committed this crime.