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Port: If murder were legal, who would you kill first?

Matthew Helms, a first responder who was working on the night of the mass shooting, at a makeshift memorial on the northern end of the Las Vegas strip, Oct. 3, 2017. A lone gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort on Sunday night, killing at least 59 and wounding at least 527 more at a country music festival below. "I haven't slept since Sunday," said Helms, who was just now getting off work. Hilary Swift / 2017 copyright The New York Times 1 / 2
columnist Rob Port2 / 2

This week we started our Monday off with news of horror and tragedy from Las Vegas.

A man, with no discernible motive based on the facts as we know now, opened fire on a crowd of country music fans killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

In the wake of this incident we got the usual demands for gun control from the usual suspects, and while I generally oppose knee-jerk restrictions on civil rights such as keeping and bearing arms, I understand why people go there.

It's a way to cope. Mass murder makes us feel angry, and wanting to respond in some palpable way is a noble instinct.

But not all ideas born of such nobility are good ones, and many of those most enamored with the concept of gun control are so convinced of the rectitude of their position that they feel comfortable with accusing we dissenters of enabling violence.

Which is nonsense.

As a thought exercise, answer this question: If murder were legal, who would you kill first?

The answer for just about all of us is nobody.

Because we are not murderers.

We do not refrain from homicide because the legal consequences are too dire. We do so because the vast majority of people in our society of all races, genders, religious outlooks, and political flavors are generally good, moral, non-murderous people.

Having established this point, who do gun control policies really impact?

The sort of law-abiding citizens inclined to follow laws restricting the manufacture, sale, possession, and/or use of firearms.

Paying little mind to such restrictions are those who would use guns to nefarious ends from simple robbery to mass slaughter.

Even supposing the government could implement policy which would effectively deny firearms to those who would use them for crimes - a dubious proposition given the abject failure of other policies of prohibition from the 18th amendment to the "war on drugs" — what stops the murderous from fomenting mayhem through other means?

The men who attacked the Boston Marathon used pressure cooker bombs.

In other attacks — such as those in Charlottesville and Barcelona this year — the perpetrator drove a vehicle into a crowd.

On the same day news was breaking of the Las Vegas shootings a Somali man in Canada was arrested for what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a "terrorist attack." He used a knife and a rented truck to attack pedestrians and law enforcement.

What makes us think a murder-minded monster will be deterred from their crimes by diminished access to firearms?

Gun control is a red herring. A convenient talking point for grandstanding left wing politicians who need something provocative to put on Twitter or shout into a microphone, but ultimately a distraction from what we ought to be talking about.

We need to understand why these attacks happen. Working on policies which will do little outside of making millions of law-abiding citizens less free does nothing to accomplish that goal.

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