Chuck Todd advocates for waiting periods, misses key point

Chuck Todd advocates for waiting periods, misses key point
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Meet The Press’s Chuck Todd is like a whole lot of people in the media. There’s every indication that he supports gun control and will use his platform to advocate for it. That’s how most folks in the media are.

And on Sunday’s show, he advocated for waiting periods, though only briefly.

I found Chuck Todd’s commentary a bit surprising, given his take on the gun issue today. He challenged GOP Rep. James Comer on the GOP’s centralization on the freedom to have firearms and not freedom in general.

“These massacres, nobody wants to see them,” Chuck Todd said. “I mean, it does feel as if we talk about the individual freedom of somebody to be able to have the right to bear arms. People want to have the individual freedom to shop at Wal-Mart without fear of getting shot.”

Of course, he’s commenting on the information that the killer in a Chesapeake, VA Walmart bought his firearm that day.

And, to be fair, if that killer had been required to wait three to seven days before taking possession of that firearm, the killing that night probably wouldn’t have happened.

That night, anyway.

You see, this is a guy who didn’t just flip out and start shooting people. He had specific targets, people who he claims harassed him and made his life a living hell. He wanted to kill them.

Do you really think a waiting period would have changed it?

Some people do. They think that this premeditated act might not have happened at all if he’d been delayed even a little bit. Frankly, I think those people are naive as hell. They’re ignoring that this was in response to a pattern of behavior that the killer found problematic. It’s unlikely that even a few days would have changed much of anything.

For Todd to sit there and advocate waiting periods as a way to have prevented that particular shooting is to betray such a fundamental ignorance on the subject.

Now look, I get the arguments in favor of waiting periods. I understand that such a thing can disrupt someone’s impulsive behavior.

The problem is that many seem to equate a same-day shooting–i.e. where a shooter buys the gun the same day he commits a mass shooting–with impulsivity, and that’s not necessarily true.

All it means is that they had to buy a gun before carrying out their plan. Premeditated murder on this scale usually doesn’t happen on a whim.

So no, a waiting period wouldn’t have stopped the shooting.

But do you know who it does stop? It stops the person who realizes there’s a threat to their life. It stops the person who has decided that crime in their neighborhood is unacceptably high. It stops the battered wife who is terrified that the next time her husband gets drunk, he’ll kill her even though she’s left him already. In addition, it stops the college co-ed who is worried about her stalker escalating things.

Waiting periods might delay a mass shooting or other premeditated murder, but it won’t necessarily stop it. Yet it can be enough to stop someone from being able to act in self-defense.

To invoke it during a discussion of crime is to misunderstand the fundamental limitations of waiting periods in general.

Especially since we have three recent shootings to look at and in only one of those cases can we even speculate that a waiting period might have done something.

Chuck Todd is supposed to be a smart guy, but if he can’t see the problems within his own assertion, then he doesn’t belong on television or in the media at all. Then again, neither should 90 percent of those already there.