The Second Victimization OF Kayla Rolland
by Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne Eisen
On February 29, a 6-year-old boy brought a handgun to Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris Township, Michigan, and shot 6-year-old classmate Kayla Rolland to death. The incident triggered a new feeding frenzy among America's firearm-prohibitionists and most of the mainstream media.
Unlike the weather, the response is always utterly predictable. With each new tragedy, the faces of grief-stricken parents are paraded across every newspaper and television screen. Michigan is no exception.
Never, ever, are we shown the faces of children saved from certain death by the presence of a firearm. Yet, according to Yale researcher Dr. John Lott, guns are used to prevent crime 5 times as often as they are used to commit crime.
It has become an undeniable fact that the main ingredient in the recipe for firearm-prohibition is the obscene exploitation of human tragedy. And that recipe is an international favorite.
Consider this. On April 28, 1996, a lone gunman, Martin Bryant, entered the Broad Arrow Cafe in Port Arthur, Tasmania, and killed 20 patrons. By the time Bryant was finally apprehended, 35 people were dead, and 18 injured. What followed was the forfeiture, by government confiscation, of 1/8 of Australia's privately-owned firearms in what has been euphemistically termed a nationwide "gun buy-back program".
Port Arthur and its aftermath are chronicled in a 1998 book by Simon Chapman entitled "Over Our Dead Bodies". Chapman is an Associate Professor of Public Health in Sydney, and an avowed advocate of civilian disarmament. Citing firearm legislation drafted early in 1996, he noted that "there was no chance" the bill would have been passed under the then-prevailing circumstances. "Nonetheless", he added, "it would represent a model Bill lying ready for action in the right political climate...".
The "right political climate" was conveniently created in Australia, just months later, by Martin Bryant.
Unlike his American counterparts, Chapman is candid about the tactics employed by the anti-self-defense lobby. As he correctly observed, "major advances in gun control depend largely on relatively uncommon but more dramatic killings, particularly when these occur in public places...These infrequent events can therefore be considered critically important to possible advances in gun control policies."
The unthinkable killing of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland by another 6-year-old, on the heels of the Littleton massacre, created for Bill Clinton and his fellow firearm-prohibitionists just the "right political climate" in which to fan the flames of frustration and outrage, and capitalize on the misfortune of others.
The opportunity was not squandered. On March 7, Clinton asked the nation, "How many people have to get killed before we do something?...When first-graders shoot first-graders, it's time for Congress to do what's right for America's families". He called on Congress to pass a gun bill by April 20, the first anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.
Among the items on Clinton's wish list are mandatory "child-safety locks" on all guns, background checks on gun show sales, and national licensing of all gun-owners.
But just which law is it that we can count on America's criminals and juvenile gang-bangers to abide by? Exactly which law can we count on abusive and irresponsible parents to obey? And which have they paid attention to, so far?
To even suggest that a drug-addicted criminal with outstanding arrest warrants, living in a crack-infested flop-house, would be responsible enough to store a stolen handgun safely out of reach of any children present - let alone place a trigger-lock on it! - represents the height of intellectual dishonesty. Yet, said Clinton, with a straight face: "I'm not at all sure that even a callous, irresponsible drug dealer with a 6-year-old in the house wouldn't leave a child trigger lock on a gun."
No gun law could have prevented the Michigan tragedy, nor any other recent high-profile shooting. And while Simon Chapman readily acknowledges that "no blueprint of gun control promises to eliminate gun violence", that's exactly the promise made to us by the anti-self-defense lobby, here in the U.S.
The wholesale, blatant exploitation of Kayla Rolland after her death for the personal political gain of some, and the advancement of a political agenda, is abhorrent and inexcusable. All the more so when all scientific evidence confirms that the laws we are asked to endorse have never worked as advertised.
That so many, including our nation's President, are willing to sacrifice the welfare of their fellow citizens, and substitute fear-mongering and hysteria for reasoned, honest discourse, is proof that conscience and integrity are rare commodities in America, today.
To those who naively embrace firearm-prohibition out of a genuine belief that this is the road to a safer world, answer this question: Are you willing to bet the lives of your children on a philosophy which requires tragedy, deceit, and the death of innocent persons for its successful implementation?
Dr. Paul Gallant practices Optometry in Wesley Hills, New York. Dr. Joanne Eisen practices dentistry in Old Bethpage, New York. Both are research associates with the Independence Institute, a civil liberties think tank in Golden Colorado, http://i2i.org.
This column appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on March 21, 2000.