Gun control Uber alles

The suspect’s motives are still a mystery in the shooting spree that took place in Kalamazoo, MI over the weekend.  According to Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas, no “type of trigger mechanism” has been found for the attack that resulted in six killed and two wounded, though the shooter, a driver for the ride-sourcing company, Uber, has admitted to the crimes.  The legal case is likely to follow a predictable course, but this incident reminds us of the flaws inherent in gun control.

First, take the ubiquitous demand of advocates, the background check.  Though Uber has been challenged about the thoroughness of the background checks they run on drivers, the chief of police in Kalamazoo has stated that the shooter has a clean record. This is reminiscent of other mass shooters and spree killers who passed background checks, either due to having no criminal record or to errors in the system.  What is more, this fact points out how disingenuous background checks are as a proposed response to incidents such as the one in Kalamazoo.  We can argue the effectiveness of such checks generally, but they won’t stop one who plans a mass murder as his first time outside the law.

But another key point here is that gun-free zones are exercises in wishful thinking.  Uber requires cars being used for their service to be gun-free.  From their policy statement, “Any rider or driver found to have violated this prohibition may lose access to the Uber platform.”  The irony here is that this policy was revealed a few months after an Uber driver stopped a mass shooting in Chicago.  Given the nature of corporate policy-making, I doubt the change came in response to that event, but this does have the appearance of wanting to make sure the gun control narrative isn’t shaken.  We’re told over and over that good guys with guns don’t stop mass shooters, and it’s embarrassing to that claim when the supposedly impossible is done.

Mass shootings draw various predictable reactions in the popular media, but now and then, perceptive statements manage to sneak through.  One example of this comes in an article by Jordan Sargent, titled, “Uber’s Gun Policy Only Has One Problem,” in Gawker.  The big problem?  “It’s entirely unenforceable.”

Yes, that’s what Sargent wrote.  We supporters of gun rights couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  He goes on to say that “There is no way to prevent that driver from bringing a rocket launcher into that car, let alone a concealed handgun.”  He also points out that the business model of Uber gives little incentive to follow the policy, since the company’s drivers haven’t put in the large investment required for a taxi medallion.

Sargent is no friend of gun rights, making his words all the more telling.  When even those who aren’t on our side admit that the declaration of a gun-free zone is futile, the argument has been won on the merits.

Now if only politicians would read those words and comprehend what they mean.  We might have something to gain by having psychologists study mass shooters who get taken alive.  What makes a person snap, especially when he gave no signs in advance, would be a useful thing to know.  But telling good people that they can’t be armed won’t do anything to prevent the rare and shocking crimes committed by killers who go nuts.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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