Printer Friendly

Washington report.

With this column I am giving birth to a new award I have dubbed TET. It stands for Tasteless Exploitation of Tragedy and this year is goes--without a doubt--to Handgun Control Inc. for its fundraising and membership drive begun almost simultaneously with the McDonald's San Ysidro mass murder.

Oh, I've seen HCI jump on tragedies before. They were quick to launch a campaign drive in 1980, after John Lennon was murdered in New York City--which has among the toughest gun control laws in the nation. They pounced into action when President Reagan was shot in 1981 here in Washington--where handguns have been banned since 1976. And they even flooded newspapers with letters to the editors after the attack on the Pope--which took place in a foreign country with stringent gun control laws. But San Ysidro really takes the cake.

A police marksman's bullet had scarcely put an end to the horrible events at the McDonald's restaurant when HCI deluged the media with calls for bans on "machine guns and armor-piercing ammunition," and waiting periods on handguns. They also made their perennial bleat for handgun registration. But it should be obvious to anyone who didn't nap through kindergarten that not one of these restrictions had even the remotest connection to the San Ysidro incident, and no gun control law yet devised would have stopped the terrible tragedy.

Item 1: A ban on machine guns. First, the firearm used by James Oliver Huberty was not a machine gun, as the press initially reported. It was a semi-automatic, relatively expensive Uzi, a firearm classified as a rifle under existing federal firearms laws. Machine guns, for the record, already are strictly regulated as Class III firearms under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and are legally available only after paying a $200 federal tax and securing the permission of the chief law enforcement officer in the purchaser's locale. The restrictions on machine guns did not matter one bit in the Huberty slayings and the press should have been far more adept in its reporting.

Item 2: A ban on "armor-piercing ammunitin." This, again, was incorrectly reported in the press. As far as can be determined, Huberty told his wife he had AP ammo, his wife told the press, and the press reported it as being fact. In reality, it appears that Huberty used a common, military surplus 9mm variety of ammunition, a type used for target shooting and plinking by law-abiding gun owners for more than 30 years. And even if it had been "armor-piercing" ammunition, it is hardly reasonable to think that any of the citizens murdered in the McDonald's would have been wearing bullet-resistant body armor which might have spared them from the tragedy.

Item 3: A national waiting period on handguns. Now I really don't see any semblance of logic here, since Huberty used a rifle and a shotgun, as well as a handgun, in the McDonald's slayings, and he owned all his guns for quite some time. Also, California already has a 15-day waiting period on handguns, the longest statewide waiting period in the nation.

But let's suppose for the sake of argument that there were a national waiting period on handgun purchases, and seven toss in a background check on prospective handgun purchasers.

First, Huberty was a former security guard and security guards are generally exempt from the gun control groups' proposed legislation.

Second, even if Huberty had sought psychiatric counseling, psychological records are protected under the Privacy Act, except in cases where the person's behavior is linked to criminal misconduct. Huberty had no felony history and authorities could have searched records from now until doomsday and still would have uncovered nothing to prevent Huberty from purchasing a gun.

A registered gun in the hands of a lunatic is far more lethal than an unregistered gun in the hands of a decent citizen; by the time the San Ysidro SWAT team got to McDonald's the last thing on their minds was whether Huberty's guns were registered or not.

The simple fact of the matter is that no law is going to stop a madman. Not a law against murder, not a law against rape and certainly not a gun control law. Even Handgun Control Inc.'s chairman, Nelson T. Shields, admitted that after the McDonald's incident. Yet HCI immediately brought out a promotional advertisment which proposed: "Could the massacre at McDonald's have been avoided? Perhaps not. Will rational laws stop irrational killers? Maybe not. But we can try . . . . A common sense law to ban Cop-Killer bullets, to try to keep handguns out of the wrong hands is the least we can do . . . for (the San Ysidro) victims . . ."

To me, that is tasteless. To me, that is flagrant exploitation of a tragedy for political and monetary purposes, and I don't think it serves the nation, the victims, their families or, for that matter, even Handgun Control Inc. very well.

Granted, there is nothing illegal about HCI's solicitation, nor anything in it that violates any existing postal regulations or ethics statutes. And frankly, there is nothing that can be done about except to rely on the good sense and sound judgment of the majority of American citizens to see through it.

But that doesn't mean such tactics should be condoned, and it certainly doesn't mean they cannot be criticized. So I say, "Tut, tut, HCI." You have just won the TET.
COPYRIGHT 1984 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Handgun Control Inc.'s exploitation of the McDonald's massacre
Author:Andrews, Reid
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:Dec 1, 1984
Previous Article:Mountain Meadow Gun Cradle.
Next Article:Gun-e-sack.

Related Articles
Tory MPs to reject gun ban; 'No point to it'.
Anti-gun zealots exploit German school shooting. (Correction, Please!).
What do we expect when we sell bullets by the bucketload, no questions asked; VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE: 6 SHOT DEAD.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters