In the wake of the terrorist attack in Mumbai, I can already hear the U.S. gun-control crowd calling for new gun-control measures here in the United States. There will be several big problems with their pleas.
One, as an article in the International Herald Tribune points out, India has strict gun-control laws. Those laws did not prevent the terrorist attack at the Oberoi and Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel. As libertarians have long been pointing out, terrorists and murderers have no reservations about disobeying gun-control laws. The long-held assumption among the gun-control crowd that murderers and terrorists will respect and obey gun-control laws, even while having no reservations about violating laws against murder and terrorism, is ridiculous, as the Mumbai killings once again demonstrate.
Two, another long-held assumption of the gun-controllers is that gun control will keep guns out of the hands of murderers and terrorists. Not so in Mumbai. The attackers simply brought their weapons with them when they landed on shore.
Third, gun-control laws are successful in disarming peaceful and law-abiding people, preventing them from defending themselves from murderers and terrorists, as the Mumbai killing once again demonstrate. There is no indication that any of the hotel guests fired back at their attackers. The reason had to be that the guests were complying with India’s gun-control laws by not having a gun in their possession.
Without gun control laws, everyone is safer, even those who don’t carry a gun. The reason is demonstrated by what happened in Mumbai. Let’s say that 5 percent of the hotel guests carried a weapon. There were 10 attackers. The guests who were carrying guns could have done some major damage because the attackers would not have known who was carrying guns and who wasn’t. When the attackers are certain that no one is carrying guns, they can move about with ease, shooting everyone they encounter, much as the shooter at Virginia Tech did.
Moreover, the likelihood that at least some people in a building are armed serves as a deterrent to murderers and terrorists. For example, how often do you hear about robberies, murders, and terrorist attacks taking place at U.S. gun shows?
Fourth, the gun-control crowd says that disarmed people can nonetheless rely on the police to protect them from murderers and terrorists. Not so in Mumbai, however, where some 200 innocent people have been killed. One reason was provided by Sebastian D’Souza, a photographer at the scene, who told the Belfast Telegraph: “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station and none of them did anything. At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back.”
As the Mumbia horror once again reminds us, gun-control laws are a disaster. They have no effect on murderers and terrorists. They do not prevent murderers and terrorists from acquiring weapons. They succeed in disarming innocent people, thereby preventing them from defending themselves from murderers and terrorists. And by the time the police get around to ending the threat, lots of innocent people have already died.