The Corner

Today’s Shooting Tells Us Nothing About the Law

From the CNN report on today’s shooting:

The gun used in the shooting has been traced to Fryberg’s father, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN. It is a “high capacity” one, but did not have an extended magazine, the source said.

Investigators are executing a search warrant at the family home, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A Beretta .40-caliber handgun is believed to have been used, a federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

First off, there is no such thing as a “high capacity” handgun that does “not have an extended magazine.” This is just nonsensical media-speak for “a standard handgun.” Handguns typically come with 12-18 round magazines, the average .40-caliber holding 12 rounds. We don’t know which model he used, but Beretta’s offerings are well within the standard range: In .40, the Px4 Storm, comes with a 14-round magazine; the 96 comes with an 11-round magazine; the 8000 comes with a 15-round magazine, and so forth. There is nothing odd or “high capacity” about these weapons. There are tens of millions like them in the country.

Second, if this report is correct and the shooter did indeed use a “Beretta .40-caliber handgun,” we can stop debating what this tells us about the law before we even start. The shooter was 14-years-old, which means that he was not allowed to do anything at all with a handgun outside of his parents’ care. In the course of his crime, he broke the rules regarding possessionFederal law prohibits anybody under 18-years-old from possessing a handgun or handgun ammunition. He broke the rules regarding carryingWashington State restricts the right to carry a concealed handgun to those who have a permit, and permits are available only to those who are at least 21-years-old; open carry, meanwhile, is legal without a permit for anybody over 21. And he broke the rules regarding schools: It is, of course, illegal in all 50 states for all minors to take guns into a school. Clearly, he also broke the laws against discharging a firearm in a school, and against murder, too.

Moreover, although the more dishonest among the gun-control brigade will attempt to link the two, this case has nothing whatsoever to do with background checks. It is illegal under federal law for anybody under 21 to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer, and it is illegal under federal law for anybody under 18 to buy a handgun in a private sale. Neither of these laws came into play because the shooter got the gun from his father.

If your reaction when something of this sort happens is to propose that the United States should confiscate the 300-400 million firearms that are in circulation, then none of this will make a difference to you. If you are a little more sensible, however, you should know that none of the laws that are typically proposed — extended background checks, a ban on “assault” weapons, a ban on “high capacity” magazines, a change in the rules that apply to children – would have come into contact with this case at all.


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