|The body of gunman Jeff Johnson lies on the |
pavement outside the Empire State Building.
If a guy like Jeff Johnson can pull out a handgun and shoot a workmate dead in the street what you need to think about is the normalisation of firearm ownership. For Johnson to own a gun in the first place means that gun ownership is such an unproblematic occurrence that no normal person would remark on it. Certainly, the NY Times story does not. But this is the aberration, and it's the US that is out of step with the world. If the same thing had happened in Australia journalists here would be asking police for information about the shooter's access to the firearm because it is such a rare thing here to own a handgun. People who own handguns in Australia are either criminals or hobby shooters and the laws that regulate the sale of firearms, especially handguns, are very strict. The result of this vigilance is that the rate of death by shooting in Australia is a tiny fraction of what it is in the US.
Jeff Johnson did not have to go to any special lengths to secure access to a handgun. He would have just bought it over the counter in a shop, like you buy a fishing rod or a box of coloured pencils. It would not be remarkable for him to own the handgun. It seems to me that Johnson was the kind of guy who would not own a handgun if it were an offense to do so; he was just such a regular sort of guy. The result of the US policy on handgun ownership is that we see yet another tragedy occur in an otherwise peaceful setting. After the Aurora shooting President Obama remarked publicly on the presence of automatic weapons in the community. They should be used by soldiers, he said, and not by regular citizens. But in the Empire State Building shooting there was no heavy weapon, just a simple handgun. And it's the fact that I can write "just a simple handgun" that is the problem here. The Second Amendment killed Ercolino.