The murder of a prosecutor and his wife in a small
community is a terrible tragedy. It is a
very personal tragedy for the family of the couple. And the family’s grief should not be
compromised by commentary on the political aspects of the shooting.
But two things must be noted, because any individual gun tragedy cannot help but be a part of the national debate on the availability of guns in the
United States. The first point is that Mr. McLelland was
on high alert because of an earlier shooting of an assistant. As a result he was armed.
Mr. McLelland told The Associated Press less than two weeks ago that he carried a gun at all times since Mr. Hasse’s killing, even when he walked his dog. He said he had urged his employees to remain alert. “The people in my line of work are going to have to get better at it, because they’re going to need it more in the future,” he said in the interview with The A.P.
But being armed did not prevent Mr. McLelland from being gunned down. The point, in a society such as the
the argument that the public has a right to be armed in order to protect
themselves is false. Protection can only
come from a highly trained, strongly supported police force and system of
justice. Yes it is true that in isolated
situations a person who is armed may prevent violence, but for the most part
being armed will not make a difference, as it did not to Mr. McLelland.
The second point, of course, is that whoever gunned down Mr. McLelland had easy and ample access to firearms. So again, unlimited possessions of weapons does not make anyone safe, it makes them more vulnerable. Tragically, there will be many more shootings like the one that killed Mr. McLelland and his wife before the general public becomes aware of this.