Carolyn McCarthy got into politics in 1993 after her husband was killed and son wounded on the Long Island Rail Road commuter train. The gunman killed six people and wounded 17 more as he fired, reloaded, fired, reloaded and fired some more.
Now let me say that I have sympathy for Carolyn McCarthy. Having your husband killed and your son wounded is tragic. And wanting to do something about it is only natural. But if her husband had died in a bomb blast she wouldn't be trying to outlaw fertilizer. And if he had died because he'd been strangled with a rope, it's unlikely she'd be lobbying for rope control. So what is it with guns?
The most obvious fact that Ms. McCarthy seems to have overlooked is this: New York's strict gun control laws ensured that no one on the train could stop Colin Ferguson.
Let's take a couple of recent examples. A few months ago, two thugs went into a Wendys in Queens. They bound and gagged seven people, covered their heads with plastic and shot them in the head. Five died. Two were seriously injured. Another tragedy where only the bad guys had guns. But this is New York, where government disarms the law-abiding and lets the thugs run free and armed. Good Guys 0 - Bad Guys 7.
Fast forward to Houston, a few weeks later. Three (some accounts say four) armed men enter a MacDonalds to rob it. Willie Lee, a maintenance worker, carrying a gun (in contravention of MacDonalds policy that workers not be armed) decides to act to defend other workers and customers, shooting two of the criminals and putting them all to flight. Shortly thereafter, the police captured the two wounded suspects after they sought medical attention. By all accounts, Willie Lee's actions were not only legal, but heroic. Good Guys 2 - Bad Guys 0.
If pizza is more to your liking, consider the Hungry Howie's in Orlando, Florida, where two armed men pistol-whipped the manager, and held a gun to the head of the young woman behind the counter. Unfortunately for the gangsters, the manager was armed. Three shots put one criminal out of commission permanently, and left the other severely wounded. By the way, this is the third time the manager has used a gun to defend himself, his employees and his business. Good Guys 2 - Bad Guys 0.
Remember the Luby's restaurant episode that made national headlines some years back? A man crashed his truck through the wall of the restaurant. People thinking it was an accident, moved to help him - and were promptly gunned down by the madman. The perpetrator killed 22 and wounded 22 more. Texas didn't allow its citizens to carry concealed weapons at that time. but the madman had purchased his guns legally, had no criminal record, had a background check and had waited more than four months to enact his slaughter of the innocent.
That day, Dr. Susan Grati watched her mom and dad fall to the madman's bullets, knowing she had left her gun in her vehicle because the Texas law at that time prevented her from bringing it inside. That law hadn't stopped the madman. It had only made 44 people innocent lambs his to slaughter. Later Gratia would lead the charge to change the law. As a result, Willie Lee would be armed to foil the Houston robbery attempt. Good Guys 0 - Bad Guys 44.
Not making the national headlines was an event that happened about the same time as the Luby's massacre. Two thugs with stolen guns held up a Shoneys in Georgia. As one herded frightened customers into the freezer, the other went through the restaurant looking for stragglers. To get an idea what criminals do after herding people into freezers, think back to the seven people lying on the floor in the New York Wendys.
Unfortunately for the bad guys, they'd missed a customer who was hiding under a table. And this customer was armed. Two quick shots from his .45-ACP through the table top put a permanent end to one life of crime. As the second criminal pulled his gun from the assistant manager's head and wheeled to shoot at the citizen, he received a career-ending injury, courtesy of the armed citizen. One dead criminal. One wounded criminal. All the law-abiding citizens went home that night. Good Guys 2 - Bad guys 0.
There is a pattern here. In areas where people are allowed to carry firearms for their own protection, they often employ them to stop crimes cold, to end dangerous situations, and to limit the extent of damage.
Unfortunately for Ms. McCarthy, New York law did not permit anyone, even the off-duty police who helped subdue Ferguson, to carry a gun. He was therefore able to shoot, reload, shoot reload, shoot... to kill at will.
The truth is, criminals will always have guns. The only question is, do you want to be less well armed, less well protected, than the criminals? Do you want criminals to have no doubt in their minds about your ability to resist effectively? Would you volunteer to wear a sign on your back that says, "Rob me. I'm helpless!" ?
I'm sorry for Ms. McCarthy's loss. Maybe if a law-abiding citizen had been allowed to carry a gun on the train, Ferguson would have been stopped sooner. Maybe before the death toll had risen to six people. Maybe before her husband was killed and son wounded. Maybe an armed citizen could have saved her the agony of a family torn apart.
Unfortunately, Ms. McCarthy's near-sightedness will condemn others to die helplessly. On commuter trains, in Wendys restaurants... wherever they are disarmed. It's thinking like hers that made sure no one could save her husband. And it's thinking like hers that will condemn other mothers and wives to weep over the deaths of their sons, husbands and fathers.
For championing the cause that helped kill her her husband, Ms. McCarthy is our, "Dope of the Day."