It is somewhat ironic that, the week that a weak gun control measure failed to exceed the votes in the Senate needed to overcome a filibuster, the Tsarnaev brothers used two bombs, rather than guns, to kill three people at the Boston Marathon.
This is surely a moral victory for gun rights advocates, right? Bombs kill people too! Why ban guns (or in this case, require background checks at gun shows) when a criminally-minded individual can simply kill victims with another weapon, like a knife or a bomb.
But instead of supporting gun rights advocates' arguments, the story of the Boston bombers illustrates perfectly why we should keep guns out of the hands of people who would use them to harm innocent people.
Because those bombs those would-be terrorists cooked up killed three people. Only three people! As awful as it is for three people to have lost their lives, those three innocent victims would have been joined by countless others at the morgue if the brothers had each carried a Bushmaster instead of a pressure cooker bomb. Each one could have mowed down dozens at the crowded finish line. The scores gravely wounded by the blasts would have turned into hundreds with bullets designed to expand upon impact, unlike the nails and BBs that packed the bombs.
It appears the brothers used pyrotechnics to fuel their homemade bombs:
Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought two “good-size” mortar kits, consisting of tubes and shells, and black powder, said William Weimer, vice president of the store, Phantom. He said Tsarnaev paid $199.99 under a buy-one-get-one-free deal.
I had no idea this sort of thing was legal to buy, and frankly, I see no reason why it should be legal. Yet, mortar kits presumably have a use beyond killing people—which is why we don't ban cars, which are responsible for killing tens of thousands of people every year. Still, I suspect quite a few people will be clamoring for certain fireworks to be made illegal, or require, say, a background check before they can be purchased. And I'd be willing to bet some of the same people who called their senator and told him to vote "no" on background checks will be the ones clamoring for regulation of black powder.
See? I told you this was ironic.
The brothers did kill one man with a gun, which they'd obtained illegally. They used it to attack a police officer, apparently in hopes of taking his gun from him. Yet that gun was locked in a holster. A good lock kept this gun out of the hands of those who wanted to do harm. A good lock would have kept that Bushmaster out of Adam Lanza's hands, too, yet there are no laws in the US requiring guns to be locked when not in use.
It's not so easy to obtain guns in Massachusetts as it is in other states—the Commonwealth has some of the toughest gun laws in the United States. Perhaps if the brothers had lived in Texas they'd have bought Bushmasters and shot dozens dead at a Cowboys game.
It's easy to imagine a scenario where many, many more could be killed at a large event, using perfectly legal weapons of mass destruction. Adam Lanza killed 26 people in five minutes. Imagine if there'd been two Adam Lanzas, and those two had decided to keep on killing rather than turn the gun on themselves... Imagine if the Columbine killers had kept on killing, rather than aimlessly wandering the halls and finally killing themselves. Ironically, a suicide bomber will almost always up the number of casualties when he's willing to die, yet killers with a gun lower the damage they inflict by those same suicidal instincts.
Around 85 people die every day in the United States due to gun violence. That's 28 Bostons. Every day.
Yet nothing at all is being done about it. No increased background checks, no magazine limits, no assault rifle bans. I guess those 85 people don't matter, because they weren't killed by a "proper" weapon of mass destruction.
It's hard to imagine a terrorist bombing 85 people every day in America and getting away with it, isn't it?