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Former Law Abiding Citizen, Nhan Lap Tran.

National Gun Victims Action Council

Beware The "Law Abiding Citizen"

A New Weekly Feature from National Gun Victims Action Council.


Martha Rosenberg
Senior Editor
National Gun Victims Action Council 

 

Every insane gun law we have is based on the fiction of the "law-abiding citizen." The NRA says law-abiding citizens (a.k.a. “good guys”) will always follow the law so there is no need for them to endure regulations. But this is absurd. The truth is, all criminals were once law-abiding citizens. In fact, all the high-profile US shootings from Virginia Tech to Tucson to Aurora to Newtown were committed by "law-abiding citizens." Each week, Beware the “Law-Abiding Citizen” will highlight a law-abiding citizen turned murderer thanks to our insane gun laws.

Previously Law-Abiding Citizen in Oakdale, MN Shoots Random Strangers, Killing Child
Almost two months after the Newtown massacre, on February 12, 2013, 34-year-old Nhan Lap Tran walked out of his parents' home in the St. Paul suburb of Oakdale and began randomly firing at passing cars. The hail of bullets killed 9-year-old Devin Aryal, and wounded his mother and 68-year-old Karen Knoblach, who was in a different car. Knoblach underwent finger amputation.

Tran was charged with six felonies, including second-degree intentional murder and second-degree murder during an assault.
Like James Holmes, the Aurora gunman, Tran was combat-ready for his spree, carrying a pair of loaded 9mm magazines and roughly 200 rounds of ammunition on him and other weaponry. And like Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, law enforcement officials found evidence of his mental state in his home--the date "12/12/12" was scrawled on his bedroom walls and a note reading "Random Kill, Fake Plates" was found.

Tran told investigators that "cars had been following him around for a while, and the persons driving the cars had been revving up their engines while parked in front of his house waking him up," the search warrant affidavit reads. "Nhan Tran said this is why he shot at the cars tonight."

Like many, perhaps most gunmen, Tran was a "law-abiding citizen" with no criminal history, no prior contact with police and a legal permit for his murder weapon. He comes from a long line of "law-abiding" mass shooters like James Holmes, Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson gunman, Stephen Phillip Kazmierczak, the Northern Illinois University gunman and Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech gunman who all, similarly, passed their background checks. Even if states had forwarded their disturbing mental health records, who would know they were armed without a firearm registry which the NRA has always blocked? ("A registry is the first step toward confiscation," trumpet parano gun sites.)

Still, the NRA defends the rights of law-abiders like Tran to protect themselves against "bad guys" (or is that other bad guys?) and even defends their right to not have wait too long for a background check clearance. Hey, their anger might go away.

Hundreds of other murderers have been armed through the Law-Abiding-Until-You-Kill premise of current gun laws from Bruce Pardo, who dressed as Santa Claus and killed nine on Christmas Eve in California to Richard Poplawski, who killed three Pittsburgh police officers, and Jiverly Voong, who killed 13 in Binghamton, NY. The Law-Abiding-Until-You-Kill premise also arms the parade of enraged husbands, boyfriends, family members, employees, students and drivers who kill for no other reason than they are Armed While Angry.

The "law-abiding" gun owner is a legal fiction that sells firearms and advances the NRA agenda. Its mistakes are written in blood.
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Martha Rosenberg is an investigative reporter and editorial cartoonist whose commentary has appeared in the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Atlantic Journal-Constitution, New Orleans Times-Picayune and other top US dailies.  Rosenberg began reporting about the gun industry in 2005 when shootings at the Red Lake Indian Reservation, a Wisconsin church service and a Wisconsin hunting area left 22 dead--and two of the shooters had passed background checks. She has appeared on CSPAN, the Ed Schulz show and numerous radio shows.

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