Regarding the myth that Timothy McVeigh wasn’t a gun nut

Amid the current political furor over gun control, I’ve seen it implied on Facebook and elsewhere that firearms had nothing to do with Timothy McVeigh’s infamous attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

The truth is that firearms had everything to do with it. McVeigh used a fertilizer bomb only because it was more efficient than guns would have been. It also afforded him a better chance of fleeing the scene.

His motivation for the crime was deeply rooted in his paranoid obsession with guns and his fear that the Second Amendment was under siege by an oppressive federal government.

McVeigh was introduced to firearms as a child by his grandfather and often expressed a desire to own a gun shop when he grew up. He reportedly even took guns to school on occasion to impress his friends. After graduation from high school, he became became even more intensely interested in guns and was an avid reader of such mercenary trash as Soldier of Fortune magazine.

As an enlistee in the U.S. Army,  McVeigh spent most of his spare time reading about guns, sniper tactics and explosives. He also gravitated toward white racists among his fellow soldiers. He eventually applied for service in the Army’s Special Forces but was rejected on psychological grounds.

Upon his return to civilian life, McVeigh became increasingly wacky, complaining that the Army had implanted a microchip in his ass to keep track of him, devouring more and more anti-government screeds and drifting from one gun show to another, where he encountered kindred souls.

At these gun shows, he took to distributing gun-rights literature and selling bumper stickers that read: “When guns are outlawed, I will become an outlaw.” He once told a reporter:

The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.

At one point, McVeigh prevailed upon his sister to illegally mail him 700 rounds of military ammunition, suitable for use in a machine gun or assault rifle. This was after an upstate New York gun shop, Johnson’s Country Store, refused to sell him the stuff.

Wikipedia says this of his obsession with firearms:

McVeigh defended the practice of owning multiple guns, saying it was like the common practice of keeping an assortment of screwdrivers in one’s toolbox; one needed to be sure of having the right tool for the job. He said that six particular guns were essential: a semiautomatic, magazine-fed rifle(for defending against large mobs); a bolt-actionhunting/sniper rifle(for killing large gameor defending against an entrenched marauder); a shotgun(for fowl hunting); a .22 caliber(to hone shooting skills and bag small game); and a pistol(for close-in self-defense). He viewed guns as the first tool of freedom, necessary to protect supplies in the event America fell into chaos.

For a while, McVeigh contemplated a campaign of assassinations of certain prominent officials, including then-Attorney General Janet Reno. Ultimately, however, he decided to bomb a federal building. The rest, as they, is history.

Shortly after 9 a.m. on April 19, 1995, McVeigh lit the fuse on a bomb in a truck he had parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Okahoma City. The ensuing explosion killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured 450 others.

A self-styled defender of the Second Amendment had performed what he considered a patriotic act.



  1. This is interesting, seems gun violence is down, when was did last weapons ban end?


    Ted Nugent is a gun nut, so we better be watching him.

    I wonder if the assault weapon ban drove McVeigh to use a bomb vs. the kind of weapons he could not purchase legally.

  2. Craig Knauss

    McVeigh was also a Neo-Nazi and associated with the half-baked Michigan Militia.

  3. wilson: Your advice regarding Ted Nugent is well-taken.

    But your last paragraph is nonsense.

  4. McVeigh was crazy.

    But he didn’t act out his crazy with guns he did it with a truck bomb. Of course you realize that the current move to limit access to guns would have:
    a) Not prevented his heinous assault
    b) Made it more likely for someone like him to believe that he was right about his gun paranoia and possibly more likely to act out in his paranoid rage.

  5. doc: The point is that McVeigh displayed much the same kind of paranoia about Second Amendment rights that so many other gun nuts exhibit.

    The proverbial woods are full of these people, and Republican politicians are afraid to speak out against them. You know, the kind of politicians you vote for.

    You may not be a gun nut yourself, but you’re an enabler.

  6. Speak out against them in what way exactly?

    Should I tell them not to worry, because nobody wants to take away their guns? Well that would be a lie.

    Should I tell them that their fascination with a legal, and many would argue consitutionally protected item is wrong?

    These are law abiding, gun toting citizens. Why should they be spoken out against?

    It would make more sense to speak out against people who are fixated on mainstreaming kids with clear mental issues. I don’t think you want to do that, I know I don’t.

    It would make as much sense to speak out against those who develop uber violent video games, movies and music, but I don’t think you want to do that.

    It would make more sense to speak out against those who support a bullying mentality. I do that all the time, but I don’t see it from you too much when it comes to the tactics of some of those on the left.

    What exactly are you asking me to do again? How exactly am I acting as an enabler and just who am I enabling?

  7. Here’s another take.


    The hard question for liberals is what else they want to do. Certainly gun laws and other types of gun violence prevention could be thoughtfully improved with better background checks, more rational tracing systems, and more aggressive and effective policing, including more cops on the street and especially in big cities. But the reality is that none of this would have prevented Newtown.

    The NRA and gun owners don’t trust gun controllers in part because they suspect the real liberal agenda is a near total ban on gun ownership by the law abiding. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg claims to believe in the Second Amendment, but try getting a gun permit if you are an average New York citizen. The regulators have made it exceedingly difficult, though this de facto ban hasn’t stopped gun violence and didn’t prevent a killer from blowing away three unarmed shopkeepers as recently as this fall.

    As the gun control battle rages, meanwhile, discussion over the mental illness of mass killers has all but vanished. Yet the common thread running from Jared Lee Loughner to James Eagen Holmes and now perhaps Lanza is severe mental illness. They expose the degradation of the institutions that once defended civil society and treated the sickest among us.

    E. Fuller Torrey and Doris A. Fuller recently explained on these pages how the dismantling of public psychiatric hospitals that began in the late 1960s was a social catastrophe. Thousands of unstable people were released into a world with few medical or cultural guardrails, and there are even fewer restraints today.

    The three largest mental health hospitals in the U.S. are the psychiatric wings at Riker’s Island in New York, Cook County Jail in Chicago and Los Angeles County Jail. This ex post facto patch is not a credible replacement for coercive institutionalization of those who pose a danger to themselves or others.

    After every gun trauma, people call for a “conversation” about how to manage these disorders of the mind, but like the gun “conversation” that liberals want to have, it never advances. A Hartford judge named Robert K. Killian Jr. has been arguing for a bill in the Connecticut legislature that would give the state the authority to forcibly medicate and stabilize people with severe mental disabilities like schizophrenia for up to 120 days. Judge Killian is working from his own experience with repeat offenders, but Democrats keep killing the bill on civil liberties grounds.

    A good-faith effort to modernize mental health law also requires the political right to answer some hard questions. The often squalid and brutal mental asylum system of the 1950s isn’t coming back, and it shouldn’t. Can the social service planners who can’t run health care, education or public housing be trusted to identify when erratic, disruptive or alarming behavior tips over into pathological danger? Probably not, but states with so-called assisted outpatient treatment laws have shown results in limiting violence among the mentally ill.

    This strikes us as a more promising path to reduce the number of mass shootings than another long and politically frustrating battle over gun control. President Obama seems determined to pass new gun laws, but the likeliest outcome will be new regulations that will satisfy a political yearning to respond to Newtown but will have little practical effect on the next Adam Lanza.

    As the late James Q. Wilson once adapted Oscar Wilde’s remark about bad poetry, all bad public policy springs from genuine feeling. The political impulses after the trauma in Newtown are raw and sincere yet are more likely to result in the illusion of progress instead of the real thing.

  8. Well if I was Chinese and couldn’t buy a gun legally I’d use another means, maybe a car or a knife.
    So is that nonsense?
    Is it nonsense that gun violence has decreased sine the “assault weapon” ban expired?

  9. Craig Knauss

    “Well if I was Chinese and couldn’t buy a gun legally I’d use another means, maybe a car or a knife.” Yeah, and how well would that work out? The guy that went berserk recently stabbed 22 kids, but didn’t kill even one. Conversely, the Newtown guy killed 20 children with his assault rifle and many of them had been shot multiple times. And how many kids could you kill inside a school building with a car? Give us a number. So, yes, it’s nonsense.

    And gun violence has NOT decreased appreciably since the assault weapon ban expired. It was significantly higher before the ban and has remained pretty much constant ever since. But since you believe that it has dropped so much (link?), then I guess there is no need for you to carry a concealed weapon, is there?

  10. Craig Knauss

    “While the homicide rate decreased continuously between 1991 and 2000 from 9.8 homicides per 100,000 persons to 5.5 per 100,000, it remained at 5.4-5.7 until 2009, when it dipped down to 5.0, and continued to drop in 2010 to 4.8.”


    The assault weapons ban went into effect in 1994 while the homicide rate was declining and expired in 2004 while the homicide rate was still declining at about the same rate. So it appears the ban didn’t reduce the national murder rate, but didn’t increase it either. So, it can’t be said the rate was reduced after the ban expired, because the change was insignificant. However, we must remember that most murders are not massacres, but are one on one confrontations. Regardless, firearms are still by far the weapon of choice for homicide.

  11. Well you site homicide rates, those include not just gun related homicides, but all homicides.
    “In 2006, firearms were used in 68 percent of murders”, so I think that means, help me out Craig that 100-68 = 32? so just in 2006 32% of the homicides were knifes? Cars? baseball bats?
    From my first government link.
    I can’t argue one thing 68% means that a gun is a weapon of choice of criminals who bare people intent on breaking the law.

    I suggest moving to a safe city like the South side. Chicago has the laws that will prevent these homicides.

  12. Craig Knauss

    The 32% would be all other methods. Also strangulation, poisoning, beatings, shaken babies, negligence, etc. But some of those involve getting personal. With a gun, you don’t need to get real close and personal, do you? Do you think that’s why a gun is preferred?

    At one time I lived four blocks from Chicago’s Austin district. Lived there 2 years and traveled through almost all of the city. And I did fabrication shop inspections just east of downtown Gary, IN. I’ve been in Detroit, Cleveland, Newark, Oakland, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Memphis, Ft. Worth, New Orleans, Philly and other places with more crime than Chicago, so you’re little joke about moving to the South Side is a total flop. And those places had concealed carry too.

    And since concealed carry is going to become legal in Illinois, why don’t YOU move to the South Side. With everyone there packing heat, it’ll be the Garden of Eden! Unless of course, you don’t think you’ll be safe. ;-}

  13. Yea, this is a joke, if you’re a progressive and it doesn’t affect you directly.
    I bet you’ll get a kick after reading this.
    I bet this has you on the floor laughing

    This is a joke?

    “Evans says he owns “a few” handguns and rifles that he’s registered with the city under its year-old gun law, and while carrying a firearm outside of the home is illegal in Chicago”

    If I still resided in Illinois I’d gladly move there as long as you did as well and of course you’d have to cover me with a very large life insurance policy since it is your idea.
    Personally I don’t find humor in people killing people and children in urban settings. Those children are all but ignored by the press, progressives and the politicians.

  14. Then Craig you should know what causes these crimes so why do you not voice your opinion on that point rather than this one you’re on? We both know that the people who do own guns are not the problem, it is the illegal gun sales that is.

    But the rant you and many others have on this issue will never end this problem.

  15. pitchfork

    If Waco didn’t happen, OKC WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED!

  16. “… By calling attention to a well-regulated militia for the security of the Nation, and the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fear of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the 2nd amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic military-civilian relationship, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the 2nd Amendment will always be important.”

    John F. Kennedy

  17. Craig Knauss


    Cover your own butt with a large insurance policy. Your safety is not my concern or responsibility.

    Your “Deadliest Global City” link (which is an opinion) doesn’t help your cause very much. It essentially says there are too many guns in Chicago. Big surprise. I don’t suppose you read the part that said, “But Chicago’s murder rate is not proof that gun control doesn’t work. It’s proof that, in a country with one gun per citizen, local gun laws are meaningless. Let’s look at Tokyo, one of the safest cities on that list, with a murder rate of 0.5 per 100,000 citizens. Japan’s constitution does not guarantee its citizens the right to bear arms. Handguns are prohibited. Semi-automatic weapons are prohibited. Automatic rifles are prohibited. The only exceptions are hunting shotguns and target-shooting pistols. The penalty for illegal possession of a gun is up to 15 years in prison. Japan has a population of 127 million. In 2006, two people were murdered with guns.
    Japan starts with the principle that citizens have no right to a gun, and forces them to prove they need one. The United States starts with the principle that guns are an inalienable right, and forces the government to justify banning them.” You did read it, right?

    And since you no longer live in Illinois, why are you whining (like a two year old) about Chicago? You’re obviously in a concealed carry state, so you should be safe. Right?

    I also live in a concealed carry state. Have for the last 11 years. I live in a small city in heavily Republican SE Washington and we just had another shooting last night. This goes on all the time. Our metro area has about 200,000 people, not 7.5 million like the Chicago area. And we don’t have nearly the poverty that large cities like Chicago have. And yet, we have almost daily shootings.

    And spare me your “If I still resided in Illinois I’d gladly move there as long as you did as well…” BS. I lived in Illinois for 50 years and the Chicago area for 27 years. How long did you live in the Chicago area? Did you ever live there? You sure don’t seem to know much about the place.

  18. Craig Knauss


    You know full well that the vast majority of guns used in crimes were legally purchased originally. How they fell into the wrong hands is a major issue. Were they stolen? Lost? Illegally resold? Given away to a friend or relative?

    I wonder what the shooting death rate would be if everyone had kept their weapons properly secured. Unfortunately it’s too late for that now.

  19. Craig, you don’t know a thing about what I believe or don’t believe or which states I have lived in or didn’t. “You are just “guessing”. And your guesses are always wrong. You sound like a miserable adolescent acting out for attention”.

    “I’m guessing that you don’t have a clue what your own”, other than criticizing the beliefs of others. You are making a fool of yourself. But, I’ll concede that you’re quite good at it”.

    I’d suggest you move to Japan as it appears that country meets your criteria.

    daily shootings? all no doubt by law abiding gun owners letting off some steam.

    Born and raised in Rockford still have family in the area and visit often.

    It isn’t the guns it is the culture all cultivated by the progressives in this country.

  20. Craig, do yourself a favor and do some research on I-95 (the gun runners highway). Also some research on what it takes to be a Gun Dealer and what rights you give up in doing so.

    Then again I wonder why you and your ilk never what to know more information on Fast and Furious since it was run by Obama and democrats?

  21. Johnny Appleseed

    Your points about Japan’s gun control fail to take into account their exceptionally high rates of suicide and depression. Perhaps it has something to do with population density or lack of feeling empowered. For comparison the US is 34th on the list of global suicide rates while Japan is 6 right before China, also with strict gun control and governmental intervention in the lives of their citizenry, at #7 . I’m sure it’s about more than guns but it could be that the total policy making is incompetent in the first place. Government that degrades the quality of life for the citizenry – intentionally or not – is little better than the horrific selfish colonial exploitation of the Congo by Belgian King Leopold the II. Better policies are certainly welcome but I don’t observe that they have been adequately arrived at yet. Rushing to knee jerk policy reaction has seldom helped society in the past either.

    Disclosure: Our household does not own any guns but we also don’t trust government policy making to be competent or helpful when it comes to genuinely improving quality of life.

  22. Luke Fredrickson

    Mr. Appleseed,

    A country that regulates firearms strictly and only averages one annual gun death per 63 million people does NOT “degrade the quality of life of the citizenry”. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    The right to live in community free of violence is something every government should aim to protect.

    How you can blame a safe and democratic society for high rates of suicide is baffling. Not owning guns in a community where you don’t even need one sounds mortally depressing to you?

    And then you define the nation of Japan as “little better” than the Belgian colonization of the Congo? Just because they can’t hoard guns in Osaka?

    You need to revaluate your relationship to firearms, Johnny. It ain’t healthy.

  23. Houston

    You saw this “implied” on Facebook? And “elsewhere”? What a BS straw man article.

  24. Wink Windsor

    No one is saying McVeigh didn’t own or even like guns. I own guns and I suppose If i own them I must like them.
    The point is McVeigh killed hundreds of people quickly, and DID NOT use a gun!
    Get it?

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