William Spengler

Quick-fix legislation won't solve our gun violence problem

Sometimes you just think there ought to be a law. In the case of William Spengler Jr., who killed two firefighters and wounded two others on Christmas Eve in Webster, N.Y., there was a law, in fact several of them ("Firefighters killed in ambush at N.Y. blaze," Dec. 25).

In 1980, Mr. Spengler killed his 92-year-old grandmother with a hammer. Killing people with hammers has always been illegal in New York, and in 1980, it carried the possibility of a death sentence. Mr. Spengler didn't get the death penalty, though. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a prison term. He was paroled in 1998.

But it was OK. That same year, a new law was enacted to protect...