How The Pearl Harbor Shooting Tells Us Gun Control Doesn't Work


When I saw the news about a shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, my heart sank. I’m a Navy man. This is the time of year when we start the two-week banter with our Army brothers leading up to the Army-Navy football game. It was just a couple of days before one of the most poignant anniversaries for the Navy, the attack on Pearl Harbor. And this was at Pearl Harbor!

It was gutwrenching.

As I wrote about it on Thursday, though, some things became quite clear to me. In particular, how gun control is a complete and total failure and this shooting exemplifies all the ways various gun control laws fell apart.

Now, we still don’t know how the killer got his firearm. Until we do, it’s not useful to debate whether or not gun control would have kept a gun out of his hands. We simply don’t have enough information to do anything more than rehash the generalities we’ve been seeing for years now.

Yet there are other proposals we know, for a fact, failed.

Gun-Free Zones

Gun-free zones are quite popular with anti-gun activists. They believe that creating areas where guns aren’t allowed will somehow magically keep bad guys away.

In fairness, there are things gun-free zones do beyond disarming law-abiding citizens. For one, they allow more pro-active policing. Officers can arrest someone simply for having a gun in those particular areas, which in theory means that person can’t shoot anyone in that particular area.

The problem with that, though, is that you have to know they have a gun before they actually start using it. That’s a lot harder to do than people seem to realize. Usually the first indication you have of trouble is when the shooting starts.

Gun-free zones, in and of themselves, are less than useless. Some have taken to calling them victim disarmament zones, and with good cause.

Plus, every military base in the country is a gun-free zone. A lot of people don’t realize it, but unless a weapon is needed to carry out one’s duty assignments, American service members aren’t allowed to carry a firearm on base. With the exception of MPs and people on various types of guard duty, there’s simply no way to be armed within regulations on a regular basis on a military base.

Yet the shooter was able to get a gun onto the base and kill two people before taking his own life.

In fact, shootings like this usually occur in gun-free zones. The failure of these zones to prevent shootings isn’t new. In fact, over 99 percent of mass shootings take place in gun-free zones.

Psychological Screenings Prior To Gun Purchases

There’s a push in some circles to require psychological screenings before gun purchases, and while many may not realize it, this incident disproves the utility of that notion rather perfectly.

You see, the sailor who carried out the attack was stationed on the U.S.S. Columbia, a Los Angeles-class attack sub. Submarine service isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s close quarters, tight spaces, and high stress. It’s so tense that the Navy conducts psychological screening for all personnel before allowing them on a sub.

If the killer was a submariner, as reports state, then he’d been through all those screenings. The Navy looked over his psyche from top to bottom and they found absolutely nothing alarming. Nothing at all.

So what, then, would a psychological screening prior to a gun purchase accomplish? If the killer passed more intensive screenings than those that would be mandated by law and they found nothing, what good would a screening be for an average gun sale?

Background Checks

“I thought you weren’t getting into how he bought the gun?” you might ask, and it’s fair since I said as much.

However, we do know that a background check wouldn’t have stopped the shooter for one simple reason. You see, in order to be assigned to the sub service, you have to have at least a SECRET security clearance. Some duty assignments might require more, but the SECRET is a minimum.

So what kind of background check would be conducted that would be more extensive than a government security clearance background check where they even speak with family, friends, etc? Hmmm?

Exactly. Nothing will. And yet, nothing popped up on the killer’s background check. Nothing sent up a red flag for the Navy.

If that’s true, then just what would a background check find on the next potential shooter?

While background checks may–and I stress the word “may” here–make things more difficult for felons and those previously adjudicated and are now prohibited from owning a firearm, they don’t do anything to stop anyone from having a gun who isn’t on that list. Nor should they.

After all, on the same day he purchased his gun, regardless of how he did so, thousands of others bought guns and broke absolutely zero laws.

So yeah, Pearl Harbor shows us plenty about how gun control doesn’t work. It’s never worked and, well, it’s never going to work. I hate to break it to the gun control crowd, but even if they got their fondest wishes, they still wouldn’t create the world they’ve built up in their heads. That’s because the bad guys don’t play by the rules.

I mean, that’s kind of what makes them bad guys in the first place.