Washington D.C. Shooting

Richard Stevens

Charging through a metal detector and shooting two Capitol police officers, a killer invaded the Capitol building on Friday afternoon, July 24, 1998, with apparent intent to harm a political leader in the building. As the killer used a firearm to kill the officers, we can expect renewed calls for more "gun control." Defenders of the right to keep and bear arms must be ready.

This particular murderous attack teaches some valuable lessons. First, the attack demonstrated that "gun control" laws do not prevent crime. The attacker carried a concealed firearm in a federal building in Washington, D.C. and later discharged it there. He therefore violated several federal and local (D.C.) firearms laws, as well as laws against assault, battery, and homicide. The laws did not stop a determined killer.

Second, the attack showed how important it is to have an armed defense against aggressors. The Capitol attacker was able to kill and injure far fewer persons than did the young teenage school boys in Jonesboro. What was the difference? The Capitol attacker charged into a building where the defenders were armed. The Jonesboro killers fired on unarmed and undefended victims.

After killing several persons and injuring dozens more, the Jonesboro killers escaped without injury to themselves. The Capitol attacker, however, was injured when one of his victims (before dying) shot back. The Jonesboro school victims died undefended. The Capitol attacker's intended victim (as yet unknown), was defended and suffered no injury whatsoever.

Third, the Capitol attack proved again that the mere presence of armed police and metal detectors will not deter some aggressors. Some particularly dedicated, fanatical, or psychotic killers will attack innocent people, regardless of the risks of criminal prosecution or death. These killers can only be stopped by superior force, and sometimes even the police cannot deploy sufficient force to prevent all injuries and deaths.

If police officers cannot guarantee protection even to themselves in a well-defended Capitol building, then they surely cannot guarantee protection to ordinary citizens in ordinary homes. The police owe no legal duty to protect individual citizens; their job is only to protect society in general. If you face a threat of attack by a deranged and murderous aggressor, then trading your gun for a telephone to dial "9-1-1" is to surrender to the killer.

We mourn the deaths of the two Capitol police officers who died in the line of duty. They gave up their lives to defend innocent people against a murderous attacker. No more noble sacrifice of life is possible. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of those officers, who themselves will suffer their personal loss forever.

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