Guns-Déjà Vu

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Guns-Déjà Vu

"That loud sighing sound you heard after the San Bernardino shooting was a collective sigh of relief from guns of all sorts from all over the United States," the author writes.  (Photo: Brittany Randolph/flickr/cc)

Such as do build their faith upon the holy text of pike

and gun.

—Samuel Butler, Hudibras

That loud sighing sound you heard after the San Bernardino shooting was a collective sigh of relief from guns of all sorts from all over the United States. And for good reason. Each time the mass slaughter of U.S. citizens occurs, the guns worry that someone will remember Australia and Scotland and suggest that the United States should do what those countries did after mass shootings.

In 1996 there was a mass shooting that killed 35 people in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur in Australia. Australians were unaccustomed to such atrocity. Furthermore, Australia did not have the Second Amendment to the Constitution that a grammatically impaired, Tony Scalia, with his similarly impaired colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court, believes gives every living thing in the United States the right to walk around with a gun. Australians believed tangible human life was more valuable than the intangible right to walk around with a gun. After the shooting occurred, the conservative Prime Minister, John Howard, persuaded legislators to pass the National Firearms Agreement. The act was passed 12 days after the massacre took place. The law prohibits possession of automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles and pump shot guns in most cases. It establishes a 28-day waiting period for those wanting to buy guns. It institutes a gun buy back program that was financed by a slight increase in taxes paid by Australian citizens. The buy back resulted in the acquisition by the government of 700,000 formerly privately owned guns. In the 18 years preceding the passage of the Act, there were 13 mass shootings in Australia that killed 112 people. In 2012 statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime showed there were 30 homicides by firearm annually in Australia.

In 1996 a 43 –year old gunman stormed a schoolhouse in Dunblane, Scotland, killing 16 children. The next year British legislation was passed banning private ownership of automatic weapons and handguns on Britain’s mainland.

Those examples are of no interest to U.S. lawmakers and the response of the wanna-be Presidents reflects congressional attitudes. None of them seems to have noticed that the deaths in California were the result of the ability of the murderers to follow the example of home grown mass murderers. Marco Rubio, for example, mocked Democrats who attributed the shootings to guns. He said: “Forty-eight hours after this is over they’re still out there talking about gun control measures. As if somehow terrorists care about what our gun control laws are.” He’s right. James Holmes, Adam Lanza and other domestic mass murderers who have not had the benefit of being tutored by terrorist organizations but are simply following in the footsteps of other locals, don’t care what our gun control laws are-we have none and that is why they could do what they did. Ted Cruz said: “We need to target the bad guys but on the flip side, what keeps us safe is we are a free people have a God-given right to protect our homes and our families and our lives.” That same God given right is what enables our homegrown terrorists to massacre their fellow citizens.

James Holmes murdered 13 people and wounded 70 more in the Aurora Theater shooting. His house was booby-trapped so the police had to spend hours before entering it to avoid triggering the explosive devices he had set. James was not described as a terrorist and no one suggested the massacre was the president’s fault. Adam Lanza killed 26 people in the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He fired 154 rounds in less than five minutes. His house was described as an arsenal. No one attributed that to inadequate leadership by the president. Dylan Storm Roof killed nine people in a church in Charleston, S.C. in June;. Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez killed four Marines and a Navy sailor in July; Christopher Harper-Mercer killed eight fellow students and a teacher in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1. None of those tragedies evoked any response of note from people in Congress nor did any of the members of Congress blame the president or the religious upbringing of the shooters for the massacres.

David Gergen, a former advisor to four presidents, commented on the San Bernardino massacre. He told the New York Times that a fear exists among the public that has not been seen since 9/11. He said: “I talk to people who worry that they will be shot on the streets of New York.”  Mr. Gergen did not explain what gave rise to this sudden fear of walking around in New York since the people had apparently not been made fearful by the other mass shootings of 2015 nor the random shootings that take place on a daily basis in the United States. They might feel safer if Congress did something about guns. It never will. If you wonder why, ask the NRA. When it comes to guns, it has all the answers.

Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli is a columnist and lawyer known nationally for his work. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Colorado School of Law where he served on the Board of Editors of the Rocky Mountain Law Review. He can be emailed at For political commentary see his web page at

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