Michael McDerrmott, 43, was convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder after walking into his workplace -- a software company in Wakefield, Mass. -- and shooting seven co-workers on the day after Christmas, 2000.
McDermott did it, and he deserves the vast bulk of the blame. (Prosecutors said McDermott went on his rampage because the company planned to comply with an IRS order to withhold a large part of his salary for "back taxes." Whether the IRS should be allowed to dragoon such unpaid enforcement help, without indemnifying those thus put in harm's way, is a question for another day.)
But there was no mention in court of the shooter's accomplice.
"When Michael McDermott walked into the offices of an Internet consulting firm and shot seven people dead, he had an accomplice -- the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," writes Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America.
"Tragically, one of the victims was a legal gun owner who was licensed to carry in next-door New Hampshire," Mr. Pratt points out. "But Massachusetts law prevented him from carrying his firearm in the state and on the job" -- a firearm the licensed Vietnam veteran could very well have used to cut short McDermott's deadly spree.
"There is no doubt Sandy Javelle was bold," Pratt writes. "When the shooting started, Sandy ordered his coworkers to lock the door behind him and barricade it. He then confronted McDermott and soon became the third victim."
Javelle would probably have had his gun with him if Congress had passed a law -- first proposed by Maryland's Roscoe Bartlett several years ago -- requiring states to recognize the concealed handgun carry permits of other states, as they recognize other states' drivers licenses, Pratt points out.
"Lamentably, Javelle was more afraid of the Massachusetts cops than he was of Michael McDermott. Deadly choice."
Since Rep. Bartlett's bill failed to become law, the House of Representatives now tries again.
By a bipartisan vote of 272-154, the House on Nov. 16 passed H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, would allow gun owners with valid state-issued concealed firearm permits to carry concealed in other states that also allow concealed carry. (That is to say, it wouldn't apply in Illinois, the only state which won't issue a "permit" for this purpose to anyone.)
The bill is unlikely to even be scheduled for a Senate vote by Majority Leader Harry Reid, who's "in favor of gun rights" only once every six years, when he returns to Nevada to run for re-election,
Needless to say, members of the usual victim disarmament gang are going nuts.
"This is an atrocious idea," editorialized the Eugene, Ore., Register-Guard on Nov. 14. "This is more than an issue of states' rights. It's an issue of safety. Contrary to the gun lobby's propaganda, not all concealed carry permit holders are responsible, law-abiding citizens. Eleven police officers and at least 370 other people have been killed by concealed carry permit holders over the past four years, according to the Violence Policy Center."
What an interesting statistic. Note the VPC doesn't say permit holders "wrongfully" killed 381 people. It doesn't even say all these victims were shot.
The VPC "killers count," accessible on the Internet at www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm, "is so egregious," says Erich Pratt of GOA. "They count shooters without permits. They count non-gun deaths involving people with permits."
An outfit called PajamasMedia.com analyzed the VPC statistics back in 2009. The anti-gun group "double counts victims to inflate their statistics," reports Bob Owens, in "Violence Policy Center Makes It Up as They Go Along -- Again" (http://tinyurl.com/85rn3cz.)
Furthermore, the gun-grabbing outfit "even counts 'murderers' who were later cleared in court as having acted in self-defense."
According to the Pajamas Media analysis, less than half the deaths attributed to concealed carry holders by the VPC were actually "committed by a permit holder drawing and firing his or her concealed weapon."
"The VPC is desperately trying to inflate its statistics," says Erich Pratt of GOA. "That's why they've included examples where children grabbed a parent's gun and unintentionally inflicted harm."
In fact, the one Nevada example included on the Violence Policy Center's "death list" involves a Nevada concealed handgun permit holder who in July 2009 was using a drive-in window at a local Walgreen's drug store when his 5-year-old picked up a 9mm handgun from the vehicle's console and fatally shot himself in the head. The father pleaded guilty to a felony charge of child abuse and neglect with substantial bodily harm, the VPC reports.
That was a terrible event. Nonetheless, you don't need a permit to own a handgun, nor did the permit holder, in this case, shoot anyone. Is this the kind of incident you thought of when that Oregon newspaper reported, "Eleven police officers and at least 370 other people have been killed by concealed carry permit holders over the past four years"?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, and author of the novel "The Black Arrow" and "The Ballad of Carl Drega." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.