Paul Jacob

January 13, 2013

A disturbed young man murders his mother, goes to the local elementary school and murders a score of young children, a few teachers, the principal as well as the school psychologist, and then turns a gun on himself, committing suicide.

Not long after, one of the rifles said to have been used in the massacre begins to fly off the walls and counters of gun stores everywhere. Americans are in a buying frenzy . . . for the exact gun allegedly used in the Sandy Hooks Elementary atrocity.

Quite a few good, decent people cannot understand this. The horror. The disrespect. The...

Wait a minute. Though I still haven’t got into my head the exact order of events of the horrible day, and the testimonies of experts seem to conflict, the causality and order of events of the bigger-picture story — shooting, buying frenzy — is clear . . . and in the version I just related, wrong.

There’s an element missing.

Why the buying frenzy? Because, immediately after the shooting, whole sectors of the body politic renewed their demands for more gun control, for outright bans on certain guns, even all guns, in the hands of the populace.

It was that hysteria and immediate politicization that sparked the buying frenzy.

Now, there is an oddity in this development. Why would people buy a type of firearm — “assault rifles” — that might become illegal to own? Why buy something that might soon be taken from them?

These gun buyers suspect that whatever legislation comes into existence will not grab the guns they now buy. It will not be a confiscation. In America, with over 300 million guns in private hands, that would be too difficult to manage. Buying a gun now that will soon be merely prohibited from future production, purchase and sale makes sense.

The impetus for this gun-buying surge? It’s more than the lure of the forbidden, or soon-to-be forbidden. It’s more, also, than an urge to get something valuable now before it becomes too expensive — or even nearly impossible to get, legally — later. At least part of the motivation comes from a desire to put as much firepower and weaponry into private hands as possible . . . while it remains possible.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.