by J.D. Tuccille
November 15, 1996

Ms. McCarthy Goes to Washington

Carolyn McCarthy deserves our sympathy, no doubt. But we should have served up that sympathy from a greater distance. On November 5, Ms. McCarthy won a surprise victory in a congressional race based on one overwhelming element: Sympathy over the murder of her husband, Dennis, and the injury of her son, Kevin, in the brutal Long Island Railroad massacre.

Brutal it was, and Ms. McCarthy has been a powerful spokeswoman for the bottled anguish felt by the survivors, and the helplessness felt by observers bombarded almost daily by one horrific news report after another. How can anybody not cringe when they hear of Colin Ferguson arising from his seat in the cramped confines of a commuter train, producing a loaded weapon, and embarking on a murderous spree up and down the aisles of the train. Weíve all ridden on trains; we can all visualize the frantic scramble for escape. And we can all sympathize with the survivors in mourning black as they put their loved ones to rest.

We can even understand Ms. McCarthyís reaction: A sincere desire that no lunatic should ever again have access to the means to visit the grief she felt upon another family. Nobody should ever be put into that situation again.

But they will be. Thatís a horrible, but unavoidable, fact of life. Evil does exist, twisted individuals walk among us, and no amount of legislative wishful thinking can eliminate future tragedy. Colin Fergusons of the future skulk among us now, ready to someday turn against their neighbors with pistol, or machete, or home-brewed mayhem of one sort or another. As Ms. McCarthy embarks upon her congressional term, she does so with the intent to uphold old gun control laws and enforce new ones that can only create new Carolyn McCarthys. For such laws will have an impact only upon those who dutifully obey. In surrendering their weapons, and thus their ability to defend themselves, those who submit to such laws put themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control. The Colin Fergusons of the world donít adhere to gun control laws, and with their chosen instruments of destruction they find unarmed, ready prey.

Some good people, of course, choose not to disarm. Laws or no laws, they shudder at the prospect of surrendering their personal defense to unknown others. Rather than become targets-in-waiting, they slip a bit of insurance into their pockets and hope that today isnít the day that they become victim to impractical laws passed by unrealistic politicians.

Because thatís what it comes down to: Do we surrender our safety to the uncertain abilities of the state, tugging at its skirts forever like frightened children and pretending that its instruments will always be there for our protection? Or do we as adults take responsibility for our own lives and remember that the world around us has, and has always had, an element of danger from which no law or police officer can shield us?

If we were sensible, if we viewed the world as it is, not as we wish it to be, we would make pistols as easy to purchase as power tools. Despite all the hype and the fear of misuse, firearms are excellent defensive weapons, and much more discriminating than the numerous alternatives that any lunatic can brew up in a well-stocked home workshop. If we were sensible, we would not just permit people to carry pistols, we would encourage the practice and teach the corresponding skills for safe gun use. Given the results of the recent Lott-Mustard study, revealing a decline in violent crime in states that have eased gun carriage laws, a society that dealt as rationally with matters of self-defense as it deals with condoms and other techniques of safe sex would likely offer friendlier streets than we now have, and parks that could be strolled in after sunset. It would never be free of crime and accidents, but it would be better aligned with the real world than any given tonnage of wishful legislation.

So, to Representative McCarthy, my sympathies. May you find the peace that has evaded so many survivors of tragedy. But honestly, donít you ever wonder what might have happened if Dennis had carried a gun?

Ah well, and so much for the power of argument. So back you go to Full Automatic or to my home page.

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Copyright (c) 1996 Jerome D. (Il Tooch) Tuccille. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Il Tooch is prohibited. Mess with me and Iíll use your polished skull as a beer mug.