Gun Control and Mass Killers

long rifles

By Jerry A. Boggs | July 2016

In a campaign to stop the massacres in the U.S. – which have become shockingly routine – many Democrats want to ban certain kinds of assault rifles, such as the AK-47 and the AR-15. Many other Democrats want to outright ban all guns. I can understand their anger, their despair and desperation. Consider this mind-numbing chronology of some of the large and small massacres in the United States:

In 1886, at a labor rally at Chicago’s Haymarket Square, 11 people were murdered, including seven police officers, and more than 100 were wounded.

In 1910, two leaders of the ironworkers union pleaded guilty to killing 20 in the Los Angeles Times building during a labor dispute.

In 1920, anarchists ended the lives of 40 and injured hundreds in New York City’s Wall Street area.

In 1927, Andrew Kehoe killed 38 elementary school children and 6 adults and wounded at least 58 other people, in what is known as the Bath School Disaster.

In 1971, an unknown man murdered 30 in The Upstairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

In 1972, a caller claiming to represent Soviet Jews killed one person and wounded nine in the New York City office of impresario Sol Hurok.

In 1975, Palestinian, Puerto Rican, and Croatian groups were suspected of killing 11 people and wounding 75 at the TWA terminal at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Also in 1975, the Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN was believed to have killed four people at historic Fraunces Tavern in New York City. The group struck 48 other times between 1974 and 1977.

In 1981, a group calling itself the Puerto Rican Armed Resistance claimed responsibility for killing a man in a men’s bathroom at the Pan Am terminal at New York’s Kennedy Airport.

In 1993, six people were killed and more than 1,000 injured at the World Trade Center in New York City.

In 1995 Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh slaughtered 168 people and injured more than 500.

In 1996, Eric Robert Rudolph plead guilty to killing two people and wounding more than 100 at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the Summer Games.

In 1998, Theodore Kaczynski pleaded guilty in Sacramento, Calif., to killing three people and wounding 23 during a nationwide murder spree between 1978 and 1995.

Also in 1998, Eric Robert Rudolph was suspected of killing one guard and wounding a nurse at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed by terrorists in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

In 2013, at the Boston Marathon, Chechen brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev murdered 3 civilians and injured an estimated 264 others.

As I said, I can understand that many Democrats want to ban certain guns – or all guns – to deal with mass killers. There’s just one problem. In the examples above, as attentive readers with an eye for history no doubt already guessed, not one person was killed by a gun. Every single one of the many deaths was the result of a bomb, or, in the case of the 9/11 tragedy, of planes serving as bombs, and in case of The Upstairs Lounge massacre, of lighter fluid exposed suddenly to air, in effect a fire bomb.

To the list, it’s necessary, I think, to add a few near-misses to drive home the point that the employment of bombs to kill has been extensive:

In 1914, Arthur Caron masterminded a failed attempt in New York to assassinate John D. Rockefeller using a bomb constructed from dynamite.

In 1971, the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., was bombed by the Weather Underground. No one was killed.

In 2009, the so-called “underwear bomber,” Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was subdued by passengers and crew after trying to blow up an airliner heading from Paris to Detroit using explosives hidden in his undergarments.

In 2010, Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad left an explosives-laden SUV in New York’s Times Square, hoping to detonate it on a busy night. Street vendors spotted smoke coming from the vehicle and the bomb was disabled.

In 2011, a backpack bomb was placed along a Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane, Washington, meant to kill and injure participants in a civil-rights march, but was found and disabled before it could explode.

Mass killers who use guns often have bombs they undoubtedly would unleash if guns were unavailable.

In 1999, the Columbine High School shooters used a fire bomb to divert firefighters, propane tanks converted to bombs placed in the cafeteria, 99 explosive devices, and carbombs.

In December 2015, after terrorists gunned down 14 in San Bernardino, California, the Boston Herald wrote:

“…12 pipe bombs are found in the home of the two now-dead killers, along with three pipe bombs wired to a remote control device, hundreds of bomb-making tools in their garage….”

Were no guns available, the rampaging duo might have had in their home 50 more remote-controlled pipe bombs after using three or four that might have killed more than 14 and destroyed considerable property.

In June 2016, the terrorist who shot to death 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, threatened to detonate a car rigged with bombs and to strap hostages into explosive vests, according to partial transcripts of his 911 calls.

“This is not about guns,” retired Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, author of “The Field of Fight” and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said on “The Kelly File” June 29, 2016, regarding the war on terrorists.

I ask gun-control advocates: How would a successful ban on all guns, still in effect since the late 1800s, have affected this history of massacres? Not so much, I would venture.

How would terrorists and other mass-killers be affected tomorrow if today the government confiscated all assault rifles or even all guns?

“People respond to incentives, although not necessarily in ways that are predictable or manifest. Therefore, one of the most powerful laws in the universe is the law of unintended consequences.” -From the book “SuperFreakonomics”

If today all guns were confiscated, tomorrow at least the following unintended consequences would ensue:

A much bigger black market for weapons — as happened in Australia — resulting in gun-runners as we’ve never seen them before, coming mostly from or through, say, Mexico, their number perhaps exceeding drug runners.

More sophisticated 3D printed guns. Even without a ban, could someone, for instance ISIS-influenced terrorists living in the U.S., right now be printing AR-15s? To borrow a decades-old bromide about nuclear weapons, the genie is out of the bottle.

A sky-rocketing bomb-making ingenuity and a proliferation of home-made bombs in basements, garages, storage facilities, etc.

“Last week law-enforcement officials charged almost two dozen Virginians who allegedly took part in a gun-running ring. The accused bought boatloads of firearms in Virginia and sold them in New York City for exorbitant sums. The tough gun-control laws in New York have made gun-running very profitable, and the repeal of Virginia’s one-gun-a-month law four years ago has made it very easy.”

And if everyone were allowed to carry a concealed weapon, consider this unintended consequence:

Mass killers and terrorists, aware of the carry law, would hurl bombs and/or toxic-gas cylinders as they drove or ran by, catching the gun bearers by surprise, virtually every time.

Supposed a determined mass killer had no access to toxic gas, bomb-making material, or guns. He or she would not speed by crowds in their vehicle but into crowds, as did Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel in Nice, France, on July 14, 2016, Bastille Day, killing 84.

With each new gun regulation, we must try to think like a mass killer who is determined to kill. Only by daring an attempt to put ourselves in these killers’ minds do we have a chance to remove ourselves from knee-jerk, futile political responses, best recognize unintended consequences, and find our best solutions.

What can help right now? Stop thinking of mass killers and terrorists as mass “shooters.”


“Australia’s Gun ‘Buyback’ Created a Violent Firearms Black Market. Why Should the U.S. Do the Same?”:

“Police admit they cannot eradicate a black market that is peddling illegal guns to criminals,” the Adelaide Advertiser conceded a few years ago. “Motorcycle gang members and convicted criminals barred from buying guns in South Australia have no difficulty obtaining illegal firearms – including fully automatic weapons.”

More recently, the country’s The New Daily gained access to “previously unpublished data for firearms offences” and reported a surge in crime “including a massive 83 per cent increase in firearms offences in NSW between 2005/06 and 2014/15, and an even bigger jump in Victoria over the same period.”

“Australians may be more at risk from gun crime than ever before with the country’s underground market for firearms ballooning in the past decade,” the report added. “[T]he national ban on semi-automatic weapons following the Port Arthur massacre had spawned criminal demand for handguns.”

Read about this unintended consequence at, which shows the picture at the top of this page:

Study: Some Gun Control Laws Result in More Deaths



About relevantmatters

I do research and writing about issues that are relevant to our lives -- such as politics, peace, health care, climate change, and advice to young people. For relief, I offer a few short fiction pieces.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s