For the record:
The weapons Adam Lanza used to slaughter children at Sandy Hook Elementary weren’t exactly “stolen from the owner”. I know those defending the ability to purchase and possess assault weaponry want these to be “stolen” guns, and keep referring to them as “stolen” guns, but that’s not really the case.
The guns were household items. According to reports, Adam Lanza had access to them while living at home. His mother reportedly took him to the range to shoot the weapons. The mother bragged about owning the weapons and made very clear the reason why she had them, had many of them, and had quick access to them.
These were not weapons, for instance, that were stolen from a gun shop and then used to commit a crime; they were household items to which the killer had regular access.
If while living at home, a kid takes his dad’s shovel from the shed (the one that he uses to do his usual yard work and chores) and instead uses it to kill the neighbor’s cat, it’s not a “stolen” shovel. It’s still a crime, but the shovel isn’t reported as “stolen”. The kid had regular access to it.
Or if, let us say (completely hypothetically of course) that a church (likely Baptist – see link at right) held an annual father-son breakfast and gun shoot, and the kids were taught and encouraged (as some form of evangelism, Bible study, of parental bonding in the name of Jesus) to shoot weapons by their parents, and then if the kids, while living at home and while having access to the same guns they are accustomed to shooting, used these guns to commit a crime, you’d have a hard time arguing that the guns were “stolen”. (Of course, the parents might claim that the teenager “stole” the gun to avoid legal liability, but the guns would be better classified as “proud household items”, not items “stolen” from somewhere or someone else.)
[For more on the dangers of giving kids access to unnecessary assault weapons, read this very sad case.]
A better example is the terrible scenario of when a kid living at home takes mom’s car (which he has driven before with his mom, and alone with his mother’s permission), and hits someone with the car and kills them. The police don’t consider the car a “stolen” vehicle, especially if the kid is listed on the mom’s insurance, and especially if mom had given the car to her child in the past, and even taken him to the range to drive the car for practice. Again, the mom might claim that the car was “stolen” to avoid legal liability, but I’m pretty certain that the victim’s family would have success arguing that the child had regular access and permission to drive the family’s car.
Gun advocates want to frame the weapons used by Adam Lanza as “stolen” so they can argue that banning assault weapons won’t stop “thieves” from “stealing” legal assault weapons (say, those owned by law enforcement officials), and then using these “stolen” weapons to commit crimes. They want to classify the Adam Lanza’s weapons as “stolen” so they can make a rhetorical defense of assault weapons and argue that new legislation against assault weapons won’t stop “thieves” from “stealing” them.
The only problem is that the weapons that Adam Lanza used weren’t “stolen”. They were household goods, proudly passed down from generation to generation (as gun advocates are wont to say). They belonged to his family, just like the car. It may have been registered in mom’s name, but it was the family car. And they were the family’s weapons. She may have kept the guns locked (again, like the car, and like the shed), but they were still the family’s guns.
The fact that some would resort to the rhetorical reclassification of weapons used to commit a crime in order to defend the ownership of assault weapons is a not only a transparently fallacious argument, but it betrays the weakness of the advocates of assault-weapons’ position.