Does Thousand Oaks Prove The Need For Gun Control? Not Really


A useful guide to public policy is that laws passed in haste after public disasters will themselves turn out to be somewhere between useless and disasters. Mature and considered mulling is a necessary, but not sufficient, base for public policy. Thus the immediate and inevitable calls for gun control after the idiocy in Thousand Oaks aren’t quite as persuasive as some might think, the immediacy being one of the problems.

“I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts,” said Susan Orfanos, whose 27-year-old son, Telemachus Orfanos, a navy veteran, died on Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar and Grill.

“I want those bastards in Congress … They need to pass gun control so no one else has a child that doesn’t come home,” she said

No, we’re not going to contradict a grieving mother to her face, even we’re not that hard hearted. But we do need to consider that call. However, we do then come to the question, well, what gun control? At near random – actually, just the first two results in a Google search – we find:

1 day ago – California, where a gunman killed 12 people in a bar in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday night, has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
1 day ago – In Californiagun control fails once again. … Wednesday’s California bar shooting was in a gun-free zone, where good guys cannot legally carry firearms: Opposing view. … Wednesday’sCalifornia bar shooting was in a gun-free zone, where good guys cannot legally carry firearms.
The gun laws of California are some of the most restrictive in the United States.

We would seem to have gun control and that didn’t stop the shooting. So, perhaps gun control isn’t the answer to such shootings?

Yes, of course, at one level this is just facile. An entirely reasonable response to the above is to say that effective gun control would stop shootings, we don’t have effective gun control as yet, even in California.

Well, yes, but. What actually would be effective gun control? Whatever can be got through the current American system – for all its faults still very much a democracy – seems not to be effective by this measure. And then there’s the very much more practical point that perhaps, starting from here, no form of gun control would be effective in this manner.

It is commonly said that there are more guns than people out there. Over 320 million bang bang sticks that is. Any system of proper, effective, gun control would have to make sure that it excises those from the hands of the bad guys before the defensive weapons of the good guys. For if it doesn’t do that then that law abiding population is simply left as prey for those scofflaws. Anyone got any ideas on how to do that? Because no one has made a reasonable public presentation of a manner of doing so.

We’re rather left with the Irish complaint. Sure, it would be great to be in Dublin but we wouldn’t want to start out from here.

So, an open question to gun control advocates. No, not the general desirability of an effective form of it. But starting from reality how do we get to nirvana?

A California law designed to help police or family members keep guns out of the hands of at-risk individuals might have stopped the shooter who killed 12 people at a country and western bar.

After a mass shooting four years ago, the state passed a new law where courts could be asked to temporarily bar an at-risk person from owning guns.

The massacre in Thousand Oaks, California, has troubling parallels to the 2014 shooting, experts said, highlighting the fact that California’s three-year-old “gun violence restraining order” law is still rarely used.

We’ve already got laws, now what?