John C. Goodman

If you ever doubted the inability of the federal government to protect you from harm, events of the past few weeks should have been a clincher.

While Congress was dithering about a background-check-for-gun-buyers bill, President Obama was out on the hustings — in full campaign mode — trying to gin up support for it. Listening to the president, you could easily be misled into thinking that the bill before Congress would actually have prevented the multiple shootings at Newtown, Connecticut, and other shooting tragedies.

In fact, none of the bills being considered in Congress would have prevented a single mass shooting in recent years, had they been law at the time of these incidents.

Meanwhile, residents of Watertown, Massachusetts — sequestered in their homes while one of the Boston Marathon bombers roamed their neighborhood — can be thankful Congress is slow to act. Under some proposals, it would have been illegal for a Watertown homeowner to lend a gun to his neighbor, or even to a member of his own household, for self-protection!

None of this stopped Garrison Keillor from interrupting his normally humorous Lake Woebegone monologue to rail against Midwestern states whose senators opposed the background check bill. Nor did it stop the "Morning Joe" crowd from similar outrageous rants on MSNBC. Ditto for The New York Times editorial page and other liberal pundits who do not seem to know very much about guns.

How did the individuals who engaged in mass shootings get their guns? For the record:

· Adam Lanza — the Newtown, Connecticut, killer – took guns that his mother had legally purchased, having passed a background check, and killed her before going on his spree.

· Andrew Engeldinger, who killed 6 (including himself) and wounded 2 others in Minneapolis, Minnesota, bought his gun at a gun shop after having passed a background check.

· Wade Michael Page, the Army veteran, and white supremacist, who killed 6 and wounded 4 at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, had passed a background check when he purchased his gun.

· James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooter, who killed 12 and injured 58 others, passed several different background checks in purchasing his various firearms.

· Jared Loughner, the Tucson, Arizona, killer who killed 6 and wounded 12 others (including Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford) passed a background check.

In these cases, none of the bills before Congress would have saved a single life.


John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts."