Not everyone in Los Angeles, California, is brain dead when it comes to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Trust me. Not only do I live in sunny LA, but UCLA Constitutional Law Professor Adam Winkler also resides in the area.
Well, on the heels of a mass shooting near Santa Monica College this past Friday that left five people dead, including the gunman, and at least five people injured, local pundits, lawmakers and pro-gun control activists were trumpeting for tighter restrictions on gun ownership in a place that already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.
By their logic, the deranged shooter with a history of mental illness and an interest in bomb making, 23-year-old John Zawahiri, who carried an AR-15 and .44 revolver along with 1,300 rounds of ammo, most of which was loaded in 30-round magazines, might have been stopped if their were stricter gun laws in place.
Though, already, under California law, it’s illegal for one to possess an AR-15 with certain cosmetic features (pistol grip, barrel shroud, etc.) and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Suffice it to say, Zawahiri was in clear violation of the law, actually multiple gun laws — which was, circling back to the Professor, Winkler’s essential point when he spoke to KNX 1070 News Radio on the efficacy of gun control as a means to deter or prevent mass shootings.
“I don’t think there’s any gun control law we can adopt that’s gonna stop a crazed madman from killing a lot of people,” said Winkler. “One of the problems with the state-based firearms laws … is that people can easily go into Nevada and Arizona and buy firearms there and bring them back. They’re not supposed to be allowed to do that.”
Law Professor Adam Winkler
While investigators are still looking into how Zawahiri obtained the firearms, it’s really a matter of where there is a will, there is a way. Someone who is determined on killing innocents will find a way to kill innocents, which leads most rational people to conclude that the optimal way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, a notion that Winkler tepidly endorsed.
“There’s certainly some logic to it … if more people are armed, there’s likely to be someone who might stand up and defend themselves,” Winkler said.
Winkler, however, couched that comment by saying that an exponential increase in armed citizens could lead to a increase in the number of negligent shootings and gun accidents as well as complicate the things for police when they respond to an active shooter as it may be difficult for them to determine the shooter.
Still, for Winkler, the best solution to reducing gun-related violence doesn’t involve passing faulty, Constitutionally-dubious legislation designed to address mass shootings, which are rather anomalous events, but instead to look at real, common sense ways to attack the problem on a grand scale via public safety efforts.
“If we can take those 30-odd people who die every day at the hands of firearms and reduce that number by one or two, we’ve made a big impact on a lot of people’s lives,” Winkler said.
On this front, a number of solutions come to mind: improved mental health treatment for those who need it, more outreach and care for troubled adolescents, veterans and potential suicide victims (two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides), and mandating that firearm safety be taught in every school around the country.
For more on Winkler, who is an incredibly bright and fascinating individual, check out the interview below. Again, he proves that not everyone in Los Angeles is a dolt when it comes to gun ownership (BTW, several of his peers at UCLA also substantiate this fact. For more, check out Guns.com’s interviews with UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh and UCLA Public Policy Professor Mark Kleiman).