Another day, another school shooting, this time in an Atlanta middle school. Not many details yet.
The video is a segment from last night’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and the speaker is David Wheeler, father of Ben Wheeler, a 6-year-old who died in the Sandy Hook massacre. This was testimony in front of the Connecticut legislature.
Although I’m not sure all of his suggestions would be helpful, one thing he said that I want to second is that it’s not enough to stop the sale of firearms to mentally unstable people. Because at the point that such a person begins a shooting spree, it doesn’t matter if the gun was purchased legally, or illegally, or stolen, or borrowed, or found laying around somewhere. What’s needed is not just to stop sales to someone who might pose a risk to the public, but to block his access to guns, period.
I’ve already said that I think a National Registry of Crazy People is a terrible idea. And as this article points out, most of the time the perpetrators do not fit any profile of a deranged killer until they start killing.
My idea is that if you own a firearm, and you keep it loaded where someone beside yourself has access to it, you are criminally responsible for whatever is done with that gun. Including homicide. Accidents with guns ought to also incur criminal charges. We keep hearing stories about people who shoot themselves, or their children, accidentally because they didn’t know there was a bullet in the chamber — well, you should have known. It is your responsibility to know that.
And I’m talking stiff penalties, I’m talking jail time, I’m talking ruinous fines. Make examples of a few people, and maybe some of these meatheads will learn to check for bullets in the chamber, or stop keeping firearms where their angry adolescent sons can easily get them. And don’t get me started on what should be done with someone who leaves a loaded gun where a small child can reach it.