Following the recent UCLA murder-suicide and Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, a man who carried out a campus shooting in 1992 is speaking out about what stricter gun control laws might have meant for him at the time he planned his attack.
Wayne Lo, who is currently serving two life sentences in Massachusetts, spoke to his friend Quentin Lee for an Apopolis.com interview about the role gun laws had in Lo's own attack, which took place in 1992 and resulted in the death of a professor and a student at Simon's Rock College. Lo, who used a semi-automatic assault rifle, surrendered himself to police afterward and showed up in court the following day wearing a sweatshirt bearing the words SICK OF IT ALL, which was the name of a rock band.
Now an artist who uses the name Skid Lo, Lo told Lee that while he can't say whether stricter gun laws could have prevented the UCLA or Florida tragedies, he felt they certainly could have deterred him from carrying out his attack.
"Speaking personally, having gun control would have made it different for me," Lo said. "If I hadn’t been able to get a gun so easily, I would not have done what I did. [A] gun lends more courage to people, if you know what I mean."
Lo added that the process of buying a gun for him was "very easy" and that he wonders what might have happened had he been forced to wait a week to purchase a gun.
"In my case, if I had to wait for a week I would have gone home," he said. "In an agitated state, you want to do something imminent. But what if that person calms down?"
After the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, Lo made similar comments in an interview with Newsweek, saying guns ought to be eliminated entirely. He also said a two-week waiting period would have stopped him from going through with the shooting:
"There should be stricter checks. Obviously a waiting period would be great. Personally, I only had five days left of school before winter break: school got out on Friday, and I did that on a Monday. If I had a two-week waiting period for the gun, I wouldn’t have done it."
Lo's remarks shed light on the potential benefit of a waiting period after purchasing a gun.
Though Lo can only speak for himself, his remarks draw attention to the larger debate surrounding gun-purchase waiting periods. Many argue that waiting periods can give law enforcement an opportunity to perform necessary background checks on gun purchasers, as well as provide people a "cooling off" period in the event that they are plotting an act of violence. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, laws that enforce waiting periods require that "a specified number of days elapse between the time a firearm is purchased and it is physically transferred to the purchaser." Waiting periods vary by state in the U.S.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was enacted in 1993 as an interim measure imposing a five-day waiting period before a "licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may sell, deliver, or transfer a handgun to an unlicensed individual." Once the National Instant Criminal Background Check System was implemented in 1998, however, the interim provisions of the law dissolved.