The Great Mills High School shooting is a tragedy. Any such shooting is a tragedy, even if no one is hurt. The loss of innocence in students who suddenly have to face the reality that some people just want to kill others is enough of a reason to mourn. It’s just made worse when innocent lives are lost.
The fact that this happened in Maryland, a rather anti-gun state, is interesting for many of us. It was apparently also interesting to the Baltimore Sun.
The gun used by the suspected teenage shooter at a St. Mary’s County high school is difficult for adults to buy under Maryland’s tough gun laws.
Law enforcement officials said [the shooter], 17, used a 9mm Glock handgun in an attack Tuesday morning at Great Mills High School that left him dead and two other teenagers injured.
Gun laws passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., makes it difficult to buy handguns, reforms passed to deter straw purchases. Those same laws also exempt gun ownership from public records requests.
Although the assault weapons ban the General Assembly passed in 2013 gets the most attention, the legislature also passed a handgun licensing law that year that requires fingerprinting, four hours of training, a $50 fee and an extensive background check to get a handgun license.
Once buyers have a license, they’re subject to the state’s other handgun laws, which require a seven-day waiting period and for buyers to be at least 21 years old . Buyers may also only buy one gun per month unless they hold a special collector’s license.
Yet, through it all, the killer still got his hands on a gun. It’s almost like all the gun control measures in the world don’t prevent these kinds of things.
We don’t know just yet how the killer in this case got his gun, only that he did. He was too young to legally buy any gun in any state, which means he either purchased it illegally in some way or he stole it. Many of these kinds of killers take firearms from family members who failed to secure their weapons sufficiently, but as of this writing, we still don’t know.
Many are pointing at the weapon and noting that the lower loss of life when compared to Parkland is due to the firearm not being an AR-15. However, it bears repeating that the most deadly school shooting in American history was perpetrated with a couple of handguns. The fact that he wasn’t using a modern sporting rifle means nothing.
What is clear is that despite the strict licensing laws in Maryland and all the hoops people have to jump through in order to buy a handgun, it didn’t do much, if anything, to prevent this attack.
The reality is that focusing on the tool being used is a band-aid at best. Without delving into the causes of violence – figuring out why people do things like this, as well as more “mundane” forms of violence – we’ll never really put a lid on this problem.
It’s not the gun, it’s something else.