The Cost of Saving Kayla
By Dr. Joanne Eisen and Dr. Paul Gallant
On February 29, 6-year-old Kayla Rolland was shot to death by another 6-year-old with a handgun at Buell Elementary School, Mount Morris Township, Michigan.
The next day, Senators Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, and Richard Durbin called a joint press conference. Said Durbin: "Yesterday's tragedy in Michigan is yet another example of why we need gun control laws, sensible gun control laws, like the Federal Child Access Prevention bill, to keep guns out of the hands of kids....[We need to establish] a standard for trigger locks, for gun safes, for safe and secure storage of guns to keep them out of the hands of children."
The rest of the nation's political opportunists followed suit, and, exploiting the wave of media-fueled hysteria, lost no time in trotting out their own pet schemes for further restricting firearm ownership.
- On March 15, New York Gov. George Pataki offered up a smorgasbord of proposals, including a ban on the possession and sale of all so-called "assault-weapons", the mandatory sale of "child-safety locking devices" with every new gun sale, and ballistic "fingerprinting".
- On March 21, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called for strict licensing of all gun-owners, declaring that anyone who wants a gun should "have to pass a written exam that shows they know how to use the gun, that they're intelligent enough and responsible enough to handle a gun".
The real questions that ought to be asked are these: Just which law would have saved Kayla? And, if every one of the more than 22,000 "tough" gun laws already on the books in this country were rigorously enforced, would even that have done the trick?
The fact is, not even complete firearm-prohibition would have been enough to save Kayla!
Consider the English experience. Today, handguns are virtually banned in Great Britain, and restrictions governing possession and use of long guns are severe. Yet, the headline in the London Times on January 16 proclaimed "Killings Rise as 3 Million Illegal Guns Flood Britain". In 1998, armed crime rose by 10% from 1997, and the figures for 1999 were expected to be even higher, the story noted.
In whose possession are all those illegally possessed guns? Many are in the hands of England's "Yardies", the drug-dealing subculture equivalent to that which produced Kayla Rolland's assailant.
And it is Great Britain's restrictive firearm laws that have created the climate where, not only could a black market in drugs thrive, but wherein those same black marketeers could create a robust illicit trade in firearms, as well.
If the black market traffic in drugs and guns cannot be stemmed in Great Britain - where laws are far more stringent, and citizens have far fewer rights than here in the States - how could any law possibly have placed the gun used to murder Kayla safely out of reach of her 6-year old killer?
However, we can put all criminological evidence aside and arrive at the truth from the answers to two other simple questions:
- Just which law is it that we can count on America's criminals and juvenile gang members to abide by?
- Which law can we count on abusive and irresponsible parents to obey?
Don't expect any reply from the anti-self-defense lobby, but the answers to both are "NONE". It is the answers to those questions that the firearm-prohibitionists cannot deal with, because it exposes the utter futility of their "reasonable" solutions.
Why, when fatal gun accidents in this country have reached their lowest level in a century, and lie at the bottom of the list of all causes for accidental death, has the demand for laws mandating "safe-storage" of firearms become ever more shrill?
The firearm-prohibitionists know - just like most of us do - that "trigger-locks" won't stop 10-year-olds, much less 20-year-old "children" or determined criminals. But "safe-storage" schemes have nothing to do with safety, or saving "just one life" - they're just clever bait-and-switch tactics intended to remove firearms from the realm of self-defense.
That's why the mainstream media gives a platform for the disingenuous fears professed by people like pediatrician Mark Schuster. In a March 31 Gannett New Service item entitled "Many Kids Have Access to Guns, Study Finds", Schuster lamented that "a surprisingly large number of kids are in homes where guns are loaded and ready to be shot. The numbers are very concerning..."
Those firearms are primed for action because they are the self-defense guns of Americans. But if self-defense can be disparaged, it becomes easier to minimize its importance.
A trigger-lock on a gun used for self-defense will drastically lower the chances for success in fending off criminal attack, especially against a felon who won't be using one (despite what Bill Clinton might tell us, to the contrary). And once self-defense is removed from the firearm equation - as the firearm-prohibitionists always do - EVERY gun becomes "unsafe", and NO measure to prevent the criminal or negligent use of a firearm can be considered too extreme or "unreasonable".
However, self-defense is the most important factor in that equation. According to Yale researcher Dr. John Lott, guns are used in preventing crime 5 times more frequently than in committing them. And the research of Dr. Gary Kleck has shown that ordinary Americans use firearms 2.5 million times, or more, each year, for self-defense.
Science affords a means of predicting the future, from the observation of past experience. Good science allows us to make better life choices. The situation Great Britain now faces could have been easily predicted from John Lott's science.
In his 1998 book "More Guns, Less Crime", Lott speculated on the kind of world we could look forward to if we attempted to eliminate guns from society. As he observed: "[From] the ease with which illegal items such as drugs find their way across borders... [we can conclude] that...the transition to a gun-free world be costly (if not impossible)...Not everyone will benefit equally from the abolition of guns...To the extent that guns are an equalizer, their elimination will strengthen criminals relative to physically weak victims."
In their hopeless search for "Utopia", the firearm-prohibitionists invariably urge us to emulate "civilized" countries, like "gun-free" Great Britain. Great Britain is now getting a crash-course on John Lott's science. "Safe-storage" schemes are just one more step in that same direction, here in the States.
It's time Americans took out their calculators and figured out how high the price tag really is, to "save just one life". Because if the firearm-prohibitionists prevail, the "Utopia" they have in store for us is guaranteed to bring with it many more Kayla Rollands.
About the Authors:
Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practices Dentistry in Old Bethpage, NY. She is President, Association of Dentists for Accuracy in Scientific Media (ADASM).
Dr. Paul Gallant practices Optometry in Wesley Hills, NY. He is Chairman, Committee for Law-Abiding Gun-Owners, Rockland (LAGR), a 2nd Amendment grassroots group, based in Rockland County, NY.
The authors may be reached at:
P.O. Box 354
Thiells, NY 10984-0354