The latest story in America’s gun violence narrative is the apparently bizarrely motivated shooting at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno. Three employees were shot, two of those are dead and one is currently in critical condition.
After firing on employees the suspect, Nasim Najafi Aghdam, then turned the gun on herself. Aghdam was a poster on YouTube and even used it for making money. There are indications that this latter detail may have had something to do with her motivation for the attack. Allegedly their policies had affected her monetization privileges, devastating news for a professional YouTuber.
Following the restrictions, Aghdam began making videos and posts to her website (NasimeSabz.com) which admonished YouTube and Google for their behavior. She even went so far as to accuse them of altering the Google search results text for her website: “when searching for my website in google, at top of link they add ‘an error occurred’ but there is no error!”
A number of activists and pundits are inferring that California gun laws may have had an effect on the outcome of this shooting. Aghdam’s weapon of choice was not an assault rifle, as is often typical of mass shooters. Instead she chose a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun.
A 2018 California law places a ban on assault rifles – although residents can own them, they are no longer able to purchase them. And of course, any that residents do have must be registered. Somehow, both sides of the political spectrum see this as evidence that they are right.
Conservatives argue that the ban on assault weapons did not prevent altogether the possibility for a public shooting, and therefore the ban is ineffective. Liberals on the other hand are quick to point out that this would have been a much bloodier shooting if an assault weapon were involved.
But in a time like this, let’s cut right through the bull. There is no reason we should give absurd logic the light of day when people’s lives are being lost. It’s true, that our civilization will always have angry people willing to carry out attacks on innocent people in attempt to attain some sort of perverted retribution (or for other various/irrelevant reasons). To say that it’s going to happen any way so don’t try and freeze out the most problematic tools is really the height of ignorance, bordering on political negligence for those in office.
There is seismic difference in damage caused by a killer yielding an assault rife versus a handgun. Just as we don’t allow anyone to purchase rocket launchers or mortars – we don’t necessarily need to let anyone purchase assault rifles either. The category of “firearm” is much too broad to say that everything is free game. We must make rational concessions.
In fact, here in California we did! And it’s possible that the assault rifle ban is why Aghdam was carrying a handgun and not an assault rifle. But what’s even more important than that, is we try to understand the quantifiable difference in deaths per attack when the assailant is carrying an assault rifle versus a handgun.
Unfortunately that data is not available (that I could find), but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to speculate that on average, an attack carried out using an assault rifle will probably result in more deaths than one carried out by a handgun. Would verification of this statistic alone serve to demonstrate once and for all that there is sufficient reason for a nationwide assault rifle ban?
I sure hope so, because more than anything the alternative is a flagrant denial of rationality and callous oversight of humanity.