Friday, February 10, 2006

An Answer to A Non-Gunnie's Question

The story of Jacob Robida is over. Nothing is left but questions. By now, it even needs a quick recap. Robida, who was only 18 years old, went into a gay bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts armed with a gun, a hatchet, and a knife. He wounded three people using first his hatchet and then his gun. If the bartender had had a shotgun or one or more patrons had been armed, the story would have ended right there.

Instead, Robida went on a cross-country flight and he killed a semi-retired cop in Arkansas. As he was being captured he killed a woman companion (seemingly a former girlfriend) and then shot himself and died a couple of days later. There are still a lot of questions for law enforcement to investigate.

There’s one question though that Anara Guard, in a letter to the Boston Globe asks and I’ll answer for her. She wants to know how Robida got his 9mm Ruger semi-automatic pistol.

I don’t know specifically how he got his gun, but I’m sure Robida didn’t go down to the local gun store and buy it legally. For one thing he wasn’t old enough to buy a handgun. For another, Massachusetts has onerous licensing and registration requirements and he didn’t go through those.

No, betcha dollars to donuts, he got his gun illegally. He probably found someone who sold guns illegally, gave him money, and walked away with a pistol and cartridges. It probably took him less time to make an illegal purchase than it does for me to buy a gun legally (and I always do so legally). If you have enough money, you can buy almost anything; drugs, sex, counterfeit Louis Vuitton purses, you name it.

Who knows where the illegal dealer got the gun, and it doesn’t really matter. An illegal dealer does his business on the black market where there’s no accountability. Guard might suggest that if guns were banned then there would be no supply. Such action might inconvenience illegal dealers, but it won’t stop them. Civilian ownership of handguns is totally illegal in England, but there is still a supply and gun crime is increasing.

Guard wonders, “Will anyone be required to take any responsibility for allowing a handgun to be possessed by such a hateful and violent person?” She doesn’t understand. No one “allowed” Robida to get a gun. He got one illegally and presumably without the knowledge of parents, police or others.

Guard wants us to examine the role of the gun. What role? A gun is a simple machine that only does what it’s designed to do. It didn’t cajole Robida into anything.

That Robida got a gun is unsurprising. That he was so full of hate and violence is the question.

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