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THOMAS: Gun laws and human nature

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas

In 1983, when President Reagan ordered the deployment of missiles in Europe as part of his "peace through strength" strategy to counter the Soviet Union, the very liberal town of Takoma Park, Md., declared itself a "nuclear free zone." City officials passed an ordinance known as The Takoma Park Nuclear Free Zone Act, which said, " on nuclear weapons is prohibited within the city limits..."

If North Korea follows through on its threat to nuke the United States (or had Russia in the '80s launched a nuclear attack), Takoma Park would not be "nuclear free" for long, but the ordinance made some people feel as though they were doing something constructive, something meaningful, about the nuclear threat, and wasn't that their point?

Today, the Democratic governors of Connecticut and Maryland, who must be seen to be doing something important about gun violence, are congratulating themselves for passing some of the "toughest" gun laws in the nation. These states already have tough gun laws, which in the case of the Newtown shooting last December did not deter Adam Lanza from grabbing his mother's legal weapons, murdering her and then killing 26 people, most of them children. Tough gun laws in Maryland have not deterred the mentally ill or criminally minded intent on getting guns, especially in Baltimore and Prince George's County, where reports of gun crimes often lead each night's local newscast.

Downplayed in this national debate and in efforts by the Obama administration to get Congress to pass "tougher" federal gun restrictions is a conversation about human nature, including better laws that allow for involuntary commitment or mandatory treatment of the mentally ill and tougher sentencing for criminals. But if laws alone were effective in regulating criminal behavior, prisons would be empty.

Life has become cheap and things are now expensive, but I remember when the reverse was true. Today, we seem to value stuff more than human life, which is why public storage units are full. Many began losing their moral compass years ago when "anything goes" began to replace a respect for the law and other people.

Authorities in Connecticut have revealed that Lanza spent a lot of time researching potential targets before his murderous rampage. He picked Sandy Hook Elementary, we're told, because it appeared to him to be an undefended soft target. The question that should suggest itself is this: Suppose Lanza knew Sandy Hook had an armed guard and other security measures? If that were the case, he might well have gone elsewhere, or not committed his evil acts at all.

The new "tougher" gun laws in Maryland and Connecticut appear to be the result of high emotion, not logic and clear thinking. We all ache for the parents and loved ones of the Sandy Hook victims, but the Newtown tragedy shouldn't be used as a prop for anti-gun proponents, the most extreme of which want to register or ban all weapons, except those for police and certain security people. What will more gun laws really accomplish? Will they keep one criminal bent on carnage from a single school door?

In 1995, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a leading force in the failed 1994 assault weapons ban, told CBS' "60 Minutes" that: "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up (every gun) ... Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in. I would have done it." Then what? Do we ban knives next? No law, no ban, no restriction will ever stop evil.

What will happen in Connecticut and Maryland when there is another shooting at an undefended target? Will politicians call for even "tougher" gun laws? There is much debate and anecdotal evidence about whether concealed carry laws deter criminals, but logic would seem to suggest they do. Isn't that why many homes have burglar alarms and security systems, as well as guns? If a burglar knows a home is defended doesn't logic suggest he might try a house that is unprotected?

Guns can never be completely outlawed, and human nature can't be changed by politicians. More laws aren't the answer. Perhaps, as the old saying goes, "The best defense is a good offense."

Email nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas at For archived columns, go to


JV 1 year ago

The victims should not be the arbiters of public policy, nor should deranged shooters.

There will always be victims and Democrats' attempts to make cults of their misfortune have driven left-wing politics for half a century, mostly to no good.

Changes in law cannot benefit victims, but certainly can damage the living, just as mindless and feckless laws are certain to do.


FordGalaxy 1 year ago

The simple truth to any gun law is that it only affects those who purchase firearms legally. I'm curious about the statistics, but I would think that there's far less gun crime committed with legally purchased guns than with illegally obtained guns.

And if you take away all the guns, the next thing is knives. We've seen knife attacks. So take away knives. Then we'll get fork attacks, or hammer attacks. You can't stop people from being deranged or unstable. So we have to help the people.

I know it's cliché, but the truth is, if guns kill people then cars drive drunk, pencils misspell words, a spoons make people fat.


DaveEmanuel 1 year ago

All the laws that can be implemented won't change one basic fact-- "Throughout history, and across all national boundaries, whether possession of a firearm is legal or illegal, one fact stands out-- criminals ALWAYS have guns." (Excerpted from-


Mack711 1 year ago

You can purchase any type high capicity firearm or magazine you want, if you have the money to do so. All you have to do is find the right person, that is what the criminals are doing. So all the firarms laws that you pass will not affect the criminal element. Basically you are dis arming the law abiding citizen. When will the legal citizens realize this? probably when some one breaks into their home with one of these illegal weapons. We have gangs in Gwinnett ( lots of them under 21 carring weapons) that want these laws passed so that they can reak havoic upon the law abiding citizen. Passing these laws only protects the criminals, not the law abiding citizen.


kevin 1 year ago

WE all know that elections are coming very soon and the Democrats MUST vote like their "base" wants them to vote or else. IF this government we have is so concerned about "real" gun issues, then try enforcing all the laws on the books. Are you all that idiotic to think we can't see the incompetence in Washington? This is no different than illegal immigrants issues. Enforce your laws Obama. I know you aren't a leader so I guess we shouldn't expect you to enforce laws you do not like, even though you took an oath to do so. Why did you pass them in the first place? To get re-elected I'm sure. Impeach now.


FordGalaxy 1 year ago

kevin - The unfortunate thing about this country is that the voting populace seems to have an attention span shorter than a goldfish. Too many people care more about what's happening on American Idol than about what's happening in Congress.


Why_not 1 year ago

The republicans are afraid to vote on anything related to guns. They are scared to death of the NRA.


notblind 1 year ago

Republicans aren't afraid of the NRA. They are afraid of the voting power of millions of NRA members and the many more millions of voters that believe in the Constitution. Same thing democraps are afraid of.


ed 1 year ago

The republican stance of threatening a filibuster is nothing more than a coward's chosen path. They know if they vote against expanded background checks that many voters will be extremely upset. On the other hand, if they do anything to upset the all powerful NRA, their name will go on a list for retaliation. So they take the coward's way out and threaten a filibuster to stop a vote altogether. Be a big enough person to at least cast a vote of yes or no.......


JV 1 year ago

Why the irrational hatred directed towards the NRA? Did an NRA member kill anyone at Sandy Hook ? Did a member supply AK47s to the Mexican Drug Cartels? Did a member carry a gun into a Gun Free Zone like Senator Diane Feinstein did and not get prosecuted? As far as I know Adam Lanza, James Holmes and Eric Holder are not NRA members.

Universal background checks will be unenforceable without registration. Registration will be an afterthought because we have to do it in order to comply with the law.


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