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1/13/2006

When gun laws cost children's lives

The risk of gun control laws. (I have written on this before, but it is nice to see the story updated.)

Jessica Lynne Carpenter was 14 years old on Aug. 23, 2000, the morning 27-year-old Jonathan David Bruce came calling at the Carpenter house in Merced, Calif.

Jessica Lynne knew how to shoot -- her father had taught her. And there were adequate firearms in the house to deal with what happened next.
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That Wednesday morning, Jessica was home with four of her siblings -- Anna, 13; Vanessa, 11; Ashley, 9; and John William, 7 -- in the San Joaquin Valley farming community, 130 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Bruce, an out-of-work telemarketer apparently high on drugs, was stark naked and armed with a spade fork. He cut the phone lines to the house shortly after 9 a.m., broke in, and immediately began chasing down and stabbing the children in their bedrooms.

Jessica Lynne tried to dial 911. The phone was dead. So she ran to the gun closet.

Then she remembered the new "safe storage law" that had just been enacted in California, and which her parents had told her about. When John and Tephanie Carpenter had left the house that morning, they had locked the gun closet so no one under 18 could get access to the family firearms ... as required by law.

Jessica's only option was to climb out a window and run to a neighbor's house.

By the time Merced County sheriff's deputies arrived at the home, John William and Ashley were dead. Anna was wounded but survived.

As deputies arrived, Bruce rushed them with his bloody spade fork. So they shot him dead. They shot him more than a dozen times.

The following Friday, the children's great uncle, the Rev. John Hilton, told reporters: "If only (Jessica) had a gun available to her, she could have stopped the whole thing." Maybe John William and Ashley would still be alive, Jessica's uncle said.

"Unfortunately, 17 states now have these so-called safe storage laws," then-Yale Law School senior research scholar John Lott, author of the book "More Guns, Less Crime," told me at the time. "The problem is, you see no decline in either juvenile accidental gun deaths or suicides when such laws are enacted, but you do see an increase in crime rates" perpetrated against the newly disarmed victims. . . .

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