Mass Shootings

Gun Controllers Insist 'Congress Knows' How to Prevent Attacks Like the Jacksonville Shooting, but No One Actually Does

None of the usual solutions seems apt.

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Joey Roulette / Reuters / Newscom

This week's shooting at a video game tournament in Jacksonville has predictably provoked calls for stricter gun control, but the ritualistic recommendations make even less sense than usual. It is hard to imagine how any of the usual proposals could have prevented this attack.

David Katz, the 24-year-old gamer who police say murdered two people and injured 11 before killing himself, legally bought the two handguns he used from a dealer in Maryland. That state has some of the country's strictest firearm regulations, earning an A– from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Maryland bans so-called assault weapons, restricts magazine capacity, allows concealed carry for only a select few, requires handgun buyers to obtain a state license, keeps records of all handgun transfers, requires background checks for private sales, and imposes stricter screening criteria than the federal government. None of those measures stopped Katz from arming himself or carrying out his attack.

At first glance, another Maryland statute seems more relevant. A law that takes effect in October authorizes "extreme risk protection orders" that prohibit people deemed a danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms. Since Katz had a history of psychological problems and psychiatric treatment (none of which disqualified him from gun ownership under current state law), it is natural to wonder whether a relative, a police officer, or a mental health professional might have sought such an order if the option had been available. But as USA Today notes, "His mental health troubles appeared to have been largely in the past, and there were no signs of violence in recent years."

That's important under Maryland's new law, which allows a temporary protective order (lasting up to a week, but extendable for up to six months) without an adversarial hearing if there are "reasonable grounds" to believe someone poses "an immediate and present danger" to himself or others. A final order, which lasts up to a year and can be extended for another six months, can be issued after a hearing based on "clear and convincing evidence" that the respondent poses a danger to himself or others. Evidence can include threats or acts of violence, negligent handling of firearms, violation of other protective orders, and drug or alcohol abuse.

It's not clear that Katz ever met these criteria, although court records related to his parents' protracted divorce indicate that he was a troubled teenager with an "extremely hostile" attitude toward his mother who would play video games through the night and go days without bathing. As Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, points out in the USA Today story, such behavior does not necessarily indicate that someone poses a threat to public safety.

"If we rolled back the clock and you showed me his background, would I say he'd commit a mass shooting?" Webster asks. "I wouldn't." He notes that "the best predictor of future violence is prior violence," while "being treated for a mental health condition is a poor predictor for future acts of violence," since "the vast majority of people being treated for mental illness aren't a threat."

Even if a judge could have been persuaded to issue an extreme risk protection order against Katz back when his parents were most concerned about him, it would have expired years ago. "Probably none of today's gun control measures would have kept a firearm from Katz," USA Today observes.

Gun controllers are unfazed. After the Jacksonville attack, Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who survived a mass shooting in 2011 and co-founded of the gun control organization that bears her name, issued a press release in which she insisted that "Congress knows steps they can take to stop this madness," but legislators "simply lack the courage to act."

That was as specific as Giffords got. But Allison Anderman, managing attorney at the Giffords Law Center, argues that state officials should have broader authority to stop people from buying guns. "If Maryland allowed law enforcement discretion when issuing handgun licenses," she told USA Today, "they might have been able to prevent this individual from buying a handgun based on his psychiatric record if they believed that he would not be someone who would use a gun safely."

The existing federal criteria for gun ownership, which exclude anyone who has ever undergone court-ordered psychiatric treatment, already take away the Second Amendment rights of many people who pose no threat to others. Anderman's suggestion that the rule should be extended to people who undergo treatment voluntarily would magnify that injustice while discouraging people from seeking psychological help by increasing the stigma and threatening them with the loss of constitutional rights.

Maryland has enacted almost all of the measures that groups like Anderman's have been pushing for years, based on the argument that they would prevent crimes like Katz's. Although they demonstrably have failed to do so, gun controllers say that only proves even more restrictions are necessary. But a net that's wide enough to catch someone like Katz is also wide enough to catch millions of innocent people who will never hurt anyone.

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  1. More guns for more people.

  2. Gun Controllers Insist ‘Congress Knows’ How to Prevent Attacks Like the Jacksonville Shooting, but No One Actually Does

    Then put No One in charge of solving the problem!

    1. Love it. No One is the right man for the job.

      1. I’m writing in No One in the upcoming election.

        1. No One will save us. Anyone can see that, if we thought it over carefully.

          1. Thursday reminder:

            Change name to No One.
            Run for President.
            ????
            Profit.

            1. If your real name is Vermin Supreme, it would be an improvement.

              And your already be on the ballot.

        2. I propose a Constitutional Amendment that states something along the lines of if none of the above wins an election, then the office must remain empty for the term. No executive? Nothing signed into law. Of course nothing could be vetoed either. Hmm. Maybe I need to rethink this.

          1. No executive? Nothing signed into law. Of course nothing could be vetoed either. Hmm. Maybe I need to rethink this.

            No One will have the power to submit a budget request.

          2. A bill needs to be signed into law, no? The pocket veto? No executive would mean all Bill’s get, essentially, pocket vetoed right?

            Or am I missing something?

            With all those questions, do I sound like the Judge?

            1. Pocket veto requires that the bill not be returned to congress because congress is not in session.
              Not being politically stupid (only logic stupid) congress routinely appoints an agent to receive veto notices while they are adjourned.

              No. you do not at all sound like a judge. Judges do no ask questions as they already know everything.

          3. If it cant be singed into law, it doesn’t need to be vetoed, now does it?

            1. If not vetoed, the bill becomes law.
              Theoretical option, pocket veto. See above.

          4. Anarchy doesnt work man.

            We just need libertarian type people to run for office and log jam the whole system by cutting government down to bare bones.

            1. As it is people are more likely to vote against someone they don’t like than vote for someone they do like. This forces them to choose the lesser evil, which is still evil. Why not choose None Of The Above instead of evil? Leave the seat empty if enough people choose nobody over the available evils. Then nothing will get done. Not as good as cutting government, but it’s better than growing it.

            2. Nope. Vote for libertarians.

  3. >>she insisted that “Congress knows steps they can take to stop this madness,” but legislators “simply lack the courage to act.”

    That was as specific as Giffords got.

    1. Comment fail. Woe!

      Giffords was possibly even less specific.

    2. It’s important to always state things in terms of a personal failing. Moral is the most common, but also stupidity is a beloved one.

      Either way, by stating it as a personal flaw rather than an inherant limitation of what government can do, then there is always more space for government to do more.

      1. Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    3. The traditional populist fallacy: “The world is not organized the way I want it due to a malevolent conspiracy.”

      1. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that no one is out to get you.

        1. The only thing worse than being paranoid is finding out that you are not.

  4. We live in a free society. Unfortunately, people sometimes abuse their freedom to harm others. It’s tragic but unavoidable if we value individual liberty.

    Full stop.

      1. I’m not your dude, buddy.

        – Terrence (or Phillip, not sure)

        1. Nonsense. You haven’t even heard my offer.

        2. I’m not your buddy, pal.

          1. I’m not your pal, friend.

            1. I’m not your friend, chum

              1. Love General Tso Chicken though.

    1. The point precisely. Since progressives do not value individual liberty, but do value their own lives, they know that the population must be disarmed prior to the full reveal of their objectives. So any story will do. Only ban Saturday night specials. Only ban handguns. Only ban guns with made up names like assault rifle. Only ban guns for certain people. Only ban guns without due process if somebody without training says someone might be dangerous. Only ban whatever is next.
      Never be honest and try to repeal the second amendment.

  5. I have known what the solution was for over twelve years.

    http://groups.google.com/d/msg….._eWdbZch4J

    Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope said, “I have one message for
    these gang members. The murder of Joseph Swift is an act of war
    against the community.”
    And I have a message. You do not go after a rabid junkyard dog with
    ASPCA rules. you take the leash off your own bigger, meaner dog. And
    since these terrorist gangs have deicded to wage war upon us, we
    should unleash the U.S. Army against them, as we should have done
    eight years ago.
    The cowardly murder of Joseph Swift demands a swift, brutal
    response. And the Army is most qualified to deliver such a response.
    Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Enforcement Act and Enforcement
    Act in 1871, a few years after the Civil War, which authorized the
    President to suspend habeas corpus and use troops to suppress the
    Klan. Secretary of the Army Thomas White should use the authority
    given to him in that act to send the Army to suppress these terrorist
    gangs.
    We have the mightiest military machien ever known to humanity. We
    should not be afraid to use it to protect those most vulnerable.

    1. Christ…..

    2. “You do not go after a rabid junkyard dog with
      ASPCA rules. you take the leash off your own bigger, meaner dog. ”

      When confronted with a rabid junkyard dog, follow ASPCA rules. Rabies is something serious people try to avoid.

      1. Yeah, that’s a pretty bad solution to a rabid animal, to get your dog to fight it. That’s just gonna lead to another rabid Animal.

        1. I know, its an *amazing* analogy that fits the growth of the police state.

          1. It was a quote from The Siege.

  6. We need lunatic control way more than we need gun control.

    These mass shootings almost never happened when our society was more sane and the insane were locked up for their own protection, and ours.

    1. We should order the United States Army to do just that.

      What is the point of having a standing army if we are not going to use it?

      1. We’re pussy comitatus, huh?

  7. Gun controllers are unfazed.

    That’s hard to wrap my head around…

  8. Something must be done
    This is something
    Therefore we must do it.

    Problem solved.

  9. Out law bars and NFL simulations.
    Problem solved.
    Wake me up for the next problem – – – – – –

    1. I would support a ban on Madden. Or at least a seven-year one like we had for the assault weapons, except successfully renewed a short while after it expires each time. If they waited a few years in between releases like a normal franchise it would certainly benefit game quality.

  10. Why not make gun free zones liable to all damages caused by shooters in their premises, since they disarmed the people and failed to provide adequate security?

    The only viable solution is to outlaw gun-free zones. People will think twice if they may get shot before they get their shot at fame.

    1. Careful, Seyton is going to say you’re politicizing a tragedy after the gun controllers offered thoughtful criticism

    2. “The only viable solution is to outlaw gun-free zones”
      Maybe a constitutional amendment providing for a right to keep and bear arms? Perhaps clearly stating that the right may not be infringed?

    3. And be sure that government gun free zones (schools, court houses, govt offices) are the joint and several personal liability of those who voted to create the zone, NOT the current and future taxpayers.

  11. “But a net that’s wide enough to catch someone like Katz is also wide enough to catch millions of innocent people who will never hurt anyone.”

    Um, yes. I believe that’s the unstated goal of ny gun control law.

    It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    1. *any

      Although it is also the unstated goal of any NY gun control law….

    2. That goal is hardly unstated.

  12. Maryland has enacted almost all of the measures that groups like Anderman’s have been pushing for years, based on the argument that they would prevent crimes like Katz’s. Although they demonstrably have failed to do so, gun controllers say that only proves even more restrictions are necessary.

    Exactly…

    1. It’s like government. Government policy causes huge problem so the proposed solution is always more government.

      1. The pattern is: government policy and poor regulation cause a crisis. The government publicly and violently searches for culprits, aided by the MSM, and names the wrong parties–usually in the private sector. The government then rolls out a massive new law and its regulatory children to “fix” the problem as they defined it. The new law doesn’t solve the real problem, costs a lot, and has massive unintended consequences, including setting the stage for the next crisis, which will be bigger and more damaging.

        Memory of the past crisis fades and everybody reluctantly adjusts to the massive new regulatory overhead. A new crisis occurs. The government publicly and violently searches for the culprits, aided by the MSM–looking exclusively in the business community…and so it goes.

  13. Something gun controllers and my ex wife have in common: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try….. again. Maybe you’ll get it right sometime.

    1. You run head first into a wall. Wall doesn’t break, you just get a headache. Solution? Back up a couple of steps and run at the wall even harder. Wall still doesn’t break, you just get a bigger headache. Solution? Back up a couple of steps more ?.

    2. It’s a feature. Try everything they can think of, and when it doesn’t work then they think it will provide the justification for an outright ban.

  14. “being treated for a mental health condition is a poor predictor for future acts of violence,” since “the vast majority of people being treated for mental illness aren’t a threat.”

    And the vast majority of people being treated for mental illness aren’t a threat, since being treated for a mental health condition is a poor predictor for future acts of violence.

    Obviously the solution is to allow only crazy people to own guns.

    1. No, only allow illegals to have guns. They commit fewer crimes than anybody else, after all.

      1. Clap……clap…..clap…..

    2. Well, that is the claim of the gun grabbers. Only crazy people would want a gun.

  15. “Congress knows steps they can take to stop this madness,” but legislators “simply lack the courage to act.”

    But, enough about the National Debt.

  16. Gun controllers and other statists certainly know how to foster Democide.

  17. If we remember their goal is “ban or effectively ban guns, or restrict them as much as possible”, it all makes sense.

    1. It’s like communism. You first have to parade it is socialism so everyone doesn’t get their panties all bunched up right away, then incrementally roll out the real agenda as the frog slowly boils away.

      1. Bunched up panties are a challenge to remove, whatever your agenda. Or the agenda.

  18. “Gun Controllers Insist ‘Congress Knows’ How to Prevent Attacks Like the Jacksonville Shooting,…”

    Yeah, they’re keeping them secret under orders from Elvis’ alien love-child!

    1. It would do rather nicely as a Globe headline with a big photo of Mitch McConnell making a silly open-mouthed face below it.

  19. Well of course our wise and giving ruling elites enslaving us know how to stop shootings in this country.
    That’s why there have been no gun related deaths in America for decades.

    1. Ironically, even if our ruling elites really did know how to completely eliminate all gun violence in this country, it is in their best interests to allow the violence to continue and even grow in order to justify having plenty of law enforcement for a police state, which means large public sector unions (cops and prison guards) and thereby large political donations.

  20. I wonder what Reason staffers will write in eulogy about her courage and character when Gabby Giffords joins her fellow Arizonan in the big Capitol in the sky?

    1. Before or after the significant and debilitating brain damage? Don’t get me wrong, I feel badly for the woman but she really shouldn’t be a spokes person for anything. Specificity is definitely not her strong point nowadays.

      1. The best thing I can say about Gabby Giffords (I do not have a very high moral opinion of those whose opinions–particularly those who draw a paycheck to make policy according to said opinions–do a 180 when they become personally affected; and I have never understood why these people–see also Rob Portman and his gay son–are so celebrated by society) is that she has been surprisingly ineffective. She seems to focus most squarely on restricting access, like this, and on the “women’s issue” angle; whereas Mike Bloomberg takes a larger picture by focusing more on things like mag bans and so forth. Plus she is a bit more quiet and focuses almost exclusively on the statehouse level. In any case you’d think she’d have the more effectiveness while Everytown gets the headlines and “changes the culture,” but I don’t think she has. I’m damn relieved, because she really would seem to have a much more appealing message, and a very insidious and dangerous one as far as I’m concerned.

        1. So maybe only women should be allowed to have guns?

          1. That is a disconcerting thought.

  21. I suppose some might consider this naive belief in Congress to be cute, but I don’t think Congress knows much of anything.

    They are completely incapable of performing their basic constitutionally-mandated duties. Let’s see them start to turn that around first.

  22. Re: “allowed law enforcement discretion”

    These same leftists freak out when law enforcement exercises their discretion to shoot a non-white (alleged) criminal and yet want to give law enforcement more discretionary power?

    1. And, strangely enough, think that only the police should carry guns.

  23. It’s sad because they think “Congress knows” anything other than how to raise taxes.

    1. That’s not true. Congress also knows how to cede their Constitutional authority to the executive, allowing bureaucrats to unaccountably create and enforce rules.

    2. And go on vacation.

  24. If Congress DOES know how to stop a crime that will inevitably occur (sadly humans are good at being mean)… yet they CHOOSE to do nothing… does that make them somehow complicit? At least according to “normal” leftist logic (such as if I know someone is starving yet do not let them steal from me then I am really responsible for their starving)?

    1. The only way for Congress to stop crime would begin with jailing themselves.

  25. As the article points out the guns were purchased in Maryland which has some of the strictest laws in the US. Those laws failed but as always, Giffords and others want more laws. Why dont they just have the guts to come out and call for what they really want, a complete gun ban and stop pretending they are reasonable. Of course we all know why because if they state their real agenda, they lose all the middle of the road support they have and media cannot continue to be thier mouthpiece.

    1. What makes you think the media would stop being their mouthpiece?
      There have been a few recorded slips of the tongue that full bans is what they want, and the media goes along; almost like they were in on the gag.


  26. Allison Anderman, managing attorney at the Giffords Law Center, argues that state officials should have broader authority to stop people from buying guns.

    And there it is, just ban the guns and the violence will stop. Boy, that’s original. Remember that guy that planted chorine bombs in a hotel here in the U.S.? Guess how hard it is to get your hands on that stuff, and how much more lethal it is than a bullet.

    /sarc

  27. “If Maryland allowed law enforcement discretion when issuing handgun licenses,” she told USA Today, “they might have been able to prevent this individual from buying a handgun based on his psychiatric record if they believed that he would not be someone who would use a gun safely.”

    I am sure they would have been quite happy had the shooter acquired the firearms on the black market. Something that laws seem to have little ability to control as of late. Witness Chicago.

  28. “Gun Controllers Insist ‘Congress Knows’ How to Prevent Attacks Like the Jacksonville Shooting, but No One Actually Does”

    Matter not to the “Do SOMETHING!” crowd. Never let sadfeelz go to waste.

  29. If only there was a committee with graduates from the Kennedy School of Huge Government Bureaucracies, maybe they could draft a law that said – and I’m just putting these common words down, but these common words will be extrapolated – is that the right word? I have no idea but I heard someone use that word on C-Span when they talked about the bureaucratic mind and how they think?Now where was I ?

    Oh yea, so the eggheads from this – well call it – gun violence in schools committee –

    Ok, so we have the committee with an important sounding title with lots of eggheads, many of whom – or it who ?

    Graduated from the Kennedy School of Huge Government Bureaucracies

    And they are in the committee to write a law – a very specific law that targets those disturbed individuals that use a fire arm to harm others in a school.

    So the law must be written that says – it shall be illegal for an individual to use a firearm to cause harm to others in a school.

    So that’s what these protesters want.

    Is that so hard?

    1. “So that’s what these protesters want.”

      I don’t think you’ve grasped the situation. The eggheads don’t trust the morons. And armed morons are even more dubious.

    2. Many of whom graduated, etc. is correct.

  30. “… he was a troubled teenager with an “extremely hostile” attitude toward his mother who would play video games through the night and go days without bathing.”

    His mother would play video games all night and go days without bathing?

    That explains things a little better.

  31. Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of prison inmates who used or carried a gun in the crime for which they were in prison showed only 12% acquired guns from retail sources. 88% acquired guns from sources like friends or family, thieves, burglars, fences, black market, drug dealers, street dealers. The left thinks more restrictions on legal guns will stop bad people from misusing guns. 25% of firearms using offenders said they got their guns from drug dealers/street dealers. If we cannot get drug dealers to require prescriptions from buyers of illegal drugs, how are we going to get drug dealers to run universal background checks on buyers of illegal guns?

    Stop targeting legal guns and legal gun owners with malum prohibitum laws.
    Start targeting criminals who do things that are malum in se with laws that target bad people and bad acts.

    1. /2/

      I remember years ago there were several gun control proposals being floated about. The Knoxville newspaper interviewed two police officers. They pointed out that maybe one of five criminals even owned a gun, and of those that owned guns four out of five got them illegally. (Work that out to a venn or matrix of twenty-five criminals, of which five own guns, of which one got a gun from a controllable source.) Their opinion was that that the proposed gun laws would not do any good but would take resources away from policies or programs that might do good. That’s gun control as crime control in a nut shell.

    2. Be careful about your Latin.

      “Malum prohibitum” means that an act is wrongful only because we have a statute that says it is, not because it is inherently wrongful. Almost all laws involving drug use, dealing, etc. fall into this category. So it does not broadly include “bad people and bad acts”

      “Malum in se” means that an act is inherently wrongful. Common law burglary was malum in se, but most statutory burglary laws are not.

  32. This country needs stricter gun controls

  33. Authority must be commensurate with responsibility.

    Only people who demonstrate responsibility should have the authority to do something. We need regulations to put this into law.

    But that won’t catch everyone who means to do harm. Some will always slip under everyone’s radar and rent a truck or buy a gun.

    One thing we should do is demand transparent publication of every criminals background and known motivations for their crimes. They lost their right to that privacy when they committed the crime.

    Then, informed, we could recognize trends in behaviour to add to our radar. So parents could get their children help earlier when they exhibit the behaviour.

    We.get almost no useful information in the media.

    1. “Only people who demonstrate responsibility should have the authority to do something.”

      So you want to abolish congress? Good man.

    2. The boy’s parents had attempted to “Get Help” by committing to a psychiatric facility. Federal law prohibits mental defectives with a history of involuntary commitment or diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder requiring medication or custodial care from buying a gun.
      The boy would not have been eligible to buy a gun legally unless he had his presumption of competence restored in court.
      As a mentally afflicted person, he would probably be considered incompetent and impossible to prosecuted for lying. on his gun purchase form.
      A probate court or a mental institution could have listed him as a mental defective incapable of responsibly using a firearm but the organized Mental Health Industry opposes any prior restraint upon mentally afflicted persons.

  34. The local sheriff said that the boy had bought the guns legally. This is not true. If he had answered question 11 on the 4472 correctly or if his mental deficiency had been reported, it would have stopped the sale. He lied and bought the guns illegally

    1. All gun controls are unconstitutional, therefore illegal.

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