UPDATED 10/25 — The tragic slaying of a 21-year-old University of Utah student by an older man she had briefly dated underscores a fact that so far seems to have escaped people: It was another failure of gun control.
The killer, in this case, has been identified as 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, a convicted and registered sex offender who had spent time in prison, according to CNN. Because he was a convicted felon, under state and federal statutes, Rowland could not legally possess a firearm.
However, Utah authorities have reported that Rowland got the gun “by telling an acquaintance that his girlfriend wanted to learn to shoot,” according to Fox News. No charges will apparently be filed because Rowland “duped” the unidentified acquaintance.
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Fox quoted University Police Chief Dale Brophy observing, “He was very, very good at getting people to trust him.”
According to the Associated Press, Rowland once said during a parole hearing that “he was a womanizer who manipulated women to get what he wanted.” He reportedly admitted to being attracted to teens and “vulnerable women” during a 2012 parole hearing. He spent time in prison “after pleading guilty in 2004 to trying to lure an underage girl online and attempted sex abuse charges, according to court records,” Fox News reported.
When McCluskey learned of his true background, she broke off the relationship. But he apparently continued harassing her, according to various reports, and Fox reported that he had apparently extorted $1,000 “to prevent the release of ‘compromising pictures’ of the pair,” attributing the revelation to investigators. After murdering McCluskey Monday night and after later fleeing from police, Rowland shot himself to death inside a church.
McCluskey had been talking to her mother on the phone when, according to ABC, she suddenly blurted “No, no, no” and the call ended.
Her mother, Jill McCluskey, released a statement saying, “He lied to her about his name, his age, and his criminal history.”
In the 50 years since passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act, there has been an incremental erosion of Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens ostensibly to prevent criminals from getting guns. But homicide data from five decades suggests to gun rights advocates that those laws have become more of an impairment against honest gun owners than criminals.
Background checks, waiting periods, one-gun-a-month schemes and other restrictive gun measures have not prevented criminals from getting guns, either from friends or family members, acquaintances or by theft. Research indicates that they rarely get firearms at gun shows.
Would a background check requirement have prevented Rowland from getting the gun from the acquaintance? Possibly, but then, if Rowland was intent on committing the crime, there are no background checks on knives, baseball bats, crowbars or any other common item that can become a murder weapon.
There are laws against murder, harassment, and felons having guns. For some reason never explained by the gun prohibition lobby, those laws don’t seem to prevent murders or harassment, and when it comes to firearms regulation, instead of admitting a law’s failure, anti-gunners invariably push for additional restrictions on law-abiding citizens, arguing that, “If it saves just one life it will be worth it.”