The Nancy Lanza Test for Gun Control Proposals

Photo Courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

This Tuesday, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) published an op-ed at The Philadelphia Inquirer touting universal background checks as a means to saving lives. Tom Knighton has already taken on her misleading op-ed and I recommend that you read his article.


The 800 lb. gorilla in the room that’s missing in Giffords’ article is that the man who shot her passed a background check when he bought the pistol he used in his crime. That alone undermines Giffords’ claim in a big way. And it’s not just him; most perpetrators in highly publicized mass attacks that I can think of – Sutherland Springs, Orlando, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Charleston – you name it, all of them passed background checks and in some cases, with glaring governmental incompetence. (Others got their guns through theft and straw purchases.)

Universal background checks simply take the existing background check system and mandate, in an unenforceable way, that all firearms transfers be subject to background checks. This will make no difference in crime because those citizens who will subject themselves to an unenforceable law are by nature law-abiding and the least likely to pose a threat to others. A name that comes to mind as an example of such a citizen is Nancy Lanza.

Nancy Lanza is the benchmark that those who propose new gun control laws must justify their proposals against. Not only would she have passed any background check – universal or otherwise – she would also have met the incrementally higher bars that the Gun Grab Lobby wants to subject ordinary citizens to.


Just look at any of the (unconstitutional) proposals being pushed around these days.

  • Insurance mandates such as the ones demanded by the San Jose mayor? Nancy Lanza was financially comfortable enough to afford the insurance and would have bought it.
  • Special taxes on guns and/or ammo? Same as the insurance policy; financially comfortable citizen Nancy Lanza would have been able to afford the special taxes.
  • Training demands such as the ones proposed by New York Democrats? Nancy Lanza was a firearms enthusiast who made regular trips to the gun range. She would have passed every marksmanship test that the Gun Grab Lobby demands we take.
  • Registration laws? Model Citizen Nancy Lanza would have complied with those too, and registration wouldn’t have made any difference anyway.
  • Raising the minimum age to buy guns? Nancy Lanza would have been old enough to buy a gun even with the minimum age raised to 21.
  • Red flag laws? Nancy Lanza never posed a threat to anyone and would not have been subject to red flag confiscation. There were no indications that the actual perpetrator who stole her guns and committed the crime posed a threat to anyone either.

Not one of the above unconstitutional gun control proposals would have stopped Sandy Hook because all those proposals, if enacted into law, would have applied to Nancy Lanza, not the perpetrator who murdered his own mother because she was in the way of his perverse plan.


There are limits to what the law can accomplish, and that’s something the Gun Grab Lobby, notably Giffords in this case, simply doesn’t understand or care about. There is an unpredictable dark side to human nature that underlies horrible crimes. That same unpredictable dark side is also present in individuals who govern, and history has numerous examples of what can happen when the government has an unbridled monopoly of force. The well-hated “bitter clingers” who refuse to go along with every harebrained gun control proposal just happen to understand that.

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