Gun laws punish those who abide by the law

It was almost impossible that the tragic attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords would not spawn calls to regulate private access to firearms. After all, the shooter obtained his firearm legally under Arizona’s law and then used that firearm to murder 6 people and wound 18 more.

Gun control advocates will try to tell us that, if Jared Loughner had not been able to legally buy the firearm he used, the shootings would not have happened. Their argument follows that, if firearms laws were more strict and penalties more severe, tragedies like the one in Tuscon would not happen.

It is ironic, then, to look right across the southern border, just 60 miles from Tuscon. Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, yet is currently experiencing some of the worst gun violence in the world at the same time.

The facts are that criminals do not care how they get their guns, but they will get them if they want them. On the other hand, law-abiding citizens tend to follow the law, no matter how troublesome those laws may be, and are often left defenseless in the face of criminal acts as a result.

It is impossible to know whether or not stricter gun laws might have deterred Loughner, but it is easy to know whether stricter gun laws will reduce gun crime or crime in general. Laws to not force people to be more moral, and those who plan to commit crimes will find ways to do so regardless of the law.

Instead of focusing on the tool used by the criminal, why not focus on the criminals themselves? Jared Loughner showed signs that he was not stable long before the incident that will define the rest of his life. In most cases, people who commit these kinds of crimes leave long trails of warning signs that no one paid attention to. Why focus on the gun when we could focus on helping the individual instead?