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Maryland mall shooting further erodes gun control myths

Police escort employees after Saturday's Mall of Columbia shooting in Maryland.
Police escort employees after Saturday's Mall of Columbia shooting in Maryland.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Three myths of gun control were further eroded with yesterday’s Mall of Columbia shooting in Maryland, covered here in the Seattle Times, and the incident also challenges the rationale behind a Washington State gun control measure scheduled for legislative hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday in Olympia.

Howard County Police Chief William McMahon identified the alleged mall gunman as Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, of College Park, according to Yahoo News. He was armed with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun that he reportedly purchased last month in neighboring Montgomery County, according to the New York Times. If that is the case, Aguilar should have had to pass a background check. Latest reports say police are “still reviewing the details of the purchase.”

The Mall of Columbia, according to National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea, is a so-called “gun-free zone” where the Code of Conduct specifically says "No firearms or illegal weapons.” That did not help Brianna Benlolo, 21, of College Park, or 25-year-old Tyler Johnson of Ellicott City. Both worked at the Zumiez skateboard shop. There is no clear motive for the attack, covered here by the Seattle

Recall that the December shooting at Arapahoe High School happened in a “gun free school zone” where the assailant, Karl Pierson, was armed with a shotgun that he had legally purchased, passing a background check. He fatally shot student Claire Davis for no apparent reason before taking his own life as an armed officer closed in.

Recall that the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard shooting occurred in a “gun free zone” yet Aaron Alexis walked right up to a security guard, shot him dead with a Remington 12-gauge pump shotgun he legally purchased days before — passing a background check in the process — and then took his gun and went on a rampage.

In none of these three high-profile incidents was there a so-called “assault weapon,” unless and until some gun prohibitionist decides to demonize one of the most common firearms in the country as an “assault weapon.” Anti-gun Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation last year to ban “assault weapons.”

Tally up the score. Gun-free zones? Fail. Background checks? Fail. “Assault weapons” ban? Fail.

This week in Olympia, House and Senate committees will hear testimony on two initiatives to the legislature, I-594, the 18-page gun control measure that was certified last week, and I-591, the simple one-page proposal mandating that background checks in Washington comply with a uniform national standard, as they do now. In its first public foray into the dueling initiatives effort, the National Rifle Association called I-594 a “universal handgun registration scheme.

In an e-mail yesterday, the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility encouraged gun control advocates to attend the hearings this week. They will have lots of company from rights activists who will oppose their measure primarily on the grounds that — as yesterday’s incident has once again demonstrated — it will not prevent violent crime but only add more burdens to law-abiding citizens.

The hearing schedule:

Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
, House Hearing Room A
, John L. O'Brien Building

Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
, Senate Hearing Room 1, 
J.A. Cherberg Building


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