Jewish World Review Jan. 14, 2000 /7 Shevat, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- BLAME THE GUNS! Pass new laws! Stop the violence! Once again, the post-Columbine High School chorus is rising. Once again, it's screechingly off-key.
A trinity of gun-grabbing groups has formed in Colorado since the campus shootings last spring. The state's Republican governor, Bill Owens, just introduced a package of new gun mandates that would have done nothing to prevent the deaths. President Clinton, invoking the Littleton legacy, now wants to throw $10 million at "smart-gun" research – a technological pipe dream.
To these futile gestures, bipartisan opportunists respond with hearty religious fervor: Amen, amen, amen! Thankfully, not everyone touched by the Columbine tragedy is singing the same cheap tune.
Listen to Rick Castaldo: "Last year, 6,000 juveniles brought guns to school. That's a federal crime. They only prosecuted 13. What good would a few more laws do?" Castaldo is not a member of the National Rifle Association. He is not a politician or lobbyist. He doesn't own a gun.
Castaldo is the father of Richard Castaldo, a Columbine survivor who was shot eight times in the arm, kidney, lung, spleen, and back. The hits to his spinal cord left the teen paralyzed from the waist down. When his son was shot, Castaldo recounted in a TV interview, there were "somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 different laws broken. In Richard's opinion and mine and a number of other people's, a few more laws would not make much difference."
"But what really disturbs me and my son," Castaldo said, is when "politicians go out and lead you to believe that we're going to pass more laws and make your children safe without enforcing the ones they have. It's not a worthwhile effort."
His son agrees. "I don't think they should pass any more" guns laws, the teen said after appearing with his dad at a press conference in Washington, D.C. last fall. He repeated his beliefs to a befuddled-looking reporter on MTV. The special, aired last week, was intended to goad young people into politically correct activism. After Castaldo's remarks, the MTV interviewer hastily changed the subject.
Gun-control advocates may have telegenic tears and emotions on their side. But the Castaldos have the cold, hard facts in their corner. According to a Senate Judiciary Committee report released three months ago, the number of federal gun prosecutions by the Justice Department plunged nearly 50 percent under the Clinton administration. The report also found a 44 percent decline in the number of gun cases referred to prosecutors by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from 1992 to 1998.
And while 100,000 people were denied gun purchases since computerized background checks came online, the BATF referred a mere 200 cases for federal prosecution. Money is not the problem: In the past three years, the Justice Department budget has ballooned by 54 percent.
The Castaldos are not alone in opposing post-Columbine gesture politics. Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was killed during the shootout as she lunched with Richard Castaldo, echoed grave doubts about the coming pile-on of anti-gun legislation. "No amount of laws can stop someone who spends months of planning [on] this type of massacre," Scott said.
These common-sense heretics have received negligible press attention compared to hysterical advocates demanding everything from mandatory trigger locks to outright gun bans in the name of school shooting victims. The media bias against Columbine's contrarians is overwhelming. In a report released this week by the D.C.-based Media Research Center, pro-gun control stories aired on the morning and evening broadcast news outnumbered stories opposing gun control by a ratio of 10 to 1.
Gun-control groups laughed off the study. They and their media sympathizers can bury their noses in their NRA-bashing hymnals, but they can't drown out the truth. "Passing any law will not stop any criminal from getting a gun if he knows the violation won't be prosecuted," the elder Castaldo notes. In short, the calmer voices of Columbine are pleading: Enforce existing laws. Punish criminals, not gun owner. Stop the blame.
01/12/00: Dying to be an American