Laws are ineffective on predators, whether human or alligator

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The June 11 murder of fledgling singer Christina Grimmie in Orlando provided enough shock and horror to reinvigorate the national discussion on gun violence, but the tsunami of grief and horror over the Orlando shootings, scarcely 24 hours later, swept Grimmie’s murder aside.


If all this weren’t enough for one city to bear, Orlando was reeling yet again when a toddler was killed by an alligator at the Disney World resort, on a beach where the only warning that there are live alligators in the water were a couple “No swimming” signs.

Really? Live alligators in an easily accessible pond on Disney grounds, and the only warnings are “no swimming” signs? AYFKM? Does this even need to go to court when the culpability is so painfully obvious? But to court it surely shall go, and may the toddler’s parents sue Disney for all it’s worth. In the case of Disney, that’s a lot. As it compares to the death of your child, it could never be enough.

Last weekend, Orlando became the epicenter of national heartbreak. The Orlando shootings monopolized the news coverage in this trilogy of tragedy, and understandably so. But I don’t want to let the Grimmie murder just slip away unnoticed. What happened to her happens to everyday women with astounding frequency: Someone who once loved them, whether a former partner or an obsessed “fan,” when faced with rejection, channels that passion into hatred and destroys what he can’t have.

It’s called stalking.

It happened right here in sweet, safe little Winters when Leslie Pinkston was gunned down on the sidewalk in front of our office one random, sunny, quiet Monday morning. Sadly, neither Pinkston’s nor Grimmie’s story are unusual. According to, 6.6 million Americans experience stalking issues within the span of one year, and the majority of the victims are women; one in six women will be stalked at some point in their lifetime

When stalking victims become murder victims, 76 percent are killed by an intimate partner (like Pinkston), leaving 24 percent killed by a stranger (like Grimmie). Although stalking is a crime in all 50 states (which means there are existing laws against it), my personal experience with it is that the police department takes a rather lackadaisical approach to the issue.

They’ll take the stalking report, sure. They’ll advise you to get a restraining order, sure. Does that make you any safer? No. Because restraining orders only work on people who obey laws. In addition, a restraining order only protects you if you’re able to notify the police, and the chances of a stalker being ever so gracious enough as to allow you a moment to call 911 before assaulting you are pretty slim.

However, law enforcement can’t really take a proactive approach with stalkers because they can’t predict when a stalker will become a killer — any more than they can predict when some angry, disgruntled lunatic will snap and turn a nightclub into a bloodbath. Whether stalker or mass murderer, we’re dealing with sociopaths, who are disinterested in our silly little laws. This is one point that keeps getting glossed over by those who pin all their hope on new gun laws: Laws only work on law-abiding citizens.

Much as it pains me to do so, on this particular issue, I must agree with the NRA: A weapon can’t hurt anyone by itself. It requires a homicidal lunatic to pull the trigger. The human brain is infinitely more deadly than guns.

Look, I’m married to an NRA member. I’ve heard the talking points so many times, I can recite them myself. I understand the NRA’s singular goal: protecting Second Amendment rights, to the exclusion of everything else. Period. I get it.

But I don’t like it.

The NRA’s complete lack of simple human sympathy for shooting victims and their families is stunning. From the Sandy Hook massacre to the Orlando shootings, and every shooting incident before, after, and in between, the NRA’s first response is silence, followed by a terse condemnation of the person who committed the crime. On a strictly technical level, it’s an accurate response: The killing was neither performed nor endorsed by the NRA. But the utter lack of compassion is abhorrent. The NRA response is as cold and hard as the cold, dead hands from which they obsess about their guns being taken.

The paranoia over losing their guns is the blood running through many NRA members’ veins, pulsing in their ears so loudly that it drowns out everything else. Ironically, their refusal to acknowledge the pain and carnage is what’s propelling the country toward having no choice but to enact tougher restrictions. The NRA is its own worst enemy. It could protect existing gun rights by participating in the conversation about curtailing gun violence.

Regardless of motivation, we all want the same thing: to stop the killing. While non-NRA members want to talk about this, the NRA’s just sticks its fingers in its ears and drones, “No, no, no!” and also lines the pockets of greedy, cowardly politicians — the more appropriate target of anti-gun vitriol because they enact the laws. However, the NRA is such a hideous beast, the politicians get off scot-free.

On the other hand, believing that new restrictions will prevent gun violence is just naïve. New gun laws will be as effective on sociopathic killers as installing “No eating humans” signs would be on the alligators at Disney World. Sociopaths and alligators are predators. They’re hard-wired to kill. They aren’t the same animal as you or me, and the methods that work on you or me (like laws) have no effect on predators.

New laws could create barriers between predator and prey, but it’s not enough. We — all of us — need to find a solution for the problem of intrinsic human violence. Either you’re part of the problem or part of the solution, and it’s about time the NRA gets off its stubborn, self-righteous ass and starts being part of the solution.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at; read more of her work at www.winters and

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