Guy W. Farmer: How do we keep guns out of extremists’ hands?
For the Nevada Appeal
I know my audience, and that’s why I’m not an advocate of new gun control laws. Nevertheless, recent hate-fueled shooting deaths in Wichita, Kan., and Little Rock, Ark., raise an important question about how guns get into the hands of deranged fanatics.
My question is how the shooters in those tragic cases – the killing of abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita and that of Army Pvt. William Long in Little Rock – obtained their guns. So while I don’t think we need more gun control legislation, federal and state authorities need to do a much better job of enforcing existing laws to keep guns away from potential murderers and domestic terrorists.
In the Wichita case, anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder, 51, shot Dr. Tiller, 67, at close range in the foyer of a Lutheran church where the doctor served as an usher. According to Roeder’s family, he was obsessed with fighting abortion and had suffered from mental illness at different times during his life.
Tiller, who ran one of three U.S. clinics that perform late-term abortions, had long been a target of anti-abortion activists. A protester shot the doctor in both arms in 1993, his clinic was bombed in 1985 and he often traveled with a bodyguard in a bullet-proof car. But that didn’t make any difference when Roeder showed up in Tiller’s church with a gun.
It’s difficult to think of anything worse than murdering someone in church, but 23-year-old Muslim convert Abdulhakim Muhammed, the former Carlos Bledsoe, emulated Roeder by killing Private Long, also 23, outside a Little Rock military recruiting office. The local police chief said Bledsoe/Muh-
ammed, who had recently visited Somalia and Yemen, “was looking for any and all targets of opportunity that happened to be military” because he was opposed to U.S. policy in the Middle East.
So there you have it, a hate-filled anti-abortion activist and an extremist, anti-war Muslim taking the law into their own hands by shooting those who disagreed with them. I repeat my original question: How did these certified nut cases obtain the guns they used to kill their ideological enemies? I’m well aware of the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument, but how do we keep guns out of the hands of crazed assassins?
Congress could reduce gun violence by reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which wouldn’t violate the Second Amendment “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” But that right shouldn’t apply to those who wish to assassinate their fellow citizens. What do you think?
• Guy W. Farmer’s many gun-owning friends know that he’s afraid of guns – and for good reason.