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Calls For Gun Bans In US Are Futile

May 26, 2014

Again… another mass shooting with multiple casualties. Again… calls for guns to be banned. Again… anyone that says it is not that simple shouted down as lackeys of the NRA.

I am not a gun owner. I don’t like guns. I don’t like to be around guns. I am not American. I have some distance. Perhaps that allows perspective.

If people are GENUINELY interested in solutions to complex social issues, they need to be discussed openly and earnestly. Shouting down opposing, or even slightly varying viewpoints, ONLY continues the status quo. Refusal to debate, or even discuss, and actively working to suppress the exchange, reinforces the current state of stasis and inaction. How do you expect to solve a problem without first determining what are the true causes?

First point: The second amendment. If you want to revoke/repeal gun ownership, the second amendment has to be dealt with. And this is not something that can be changed by decree with the stroke of a pen. It is enshrined in the constitution. In fact POTUS has no more than a ceremonial role. This means there is a set amendment formula that MUST be obeyed. (Click here for Constitutional Amendment Process)

Second point: Gun violence is NOT just a matter of gun ownership. If it were, gun crime rates per gun owner would parallel other countries with private gun ownership. They don’t. This can be seen here: (Click here for gun homicides numbers by country)

Third point: Deaths in mass shootings are horrible and headline grabbing, but are a small fraction of the approximately 32,000 total gun deaths (mostly suicides) in the US every year. It is NOT, as it is often described, an ‘epidemic’. In fact they account for less than 1% of total gun deaths. There is definitely a gun violence problem. Mass shootings are an isolated and seemingly nonrepresentative part of the overall statistics.

Fourth point: Most gun deaths are attributed to handguns.

Fifth point: Gun crime is predominantly an inner city crime.

Let’s just deal with these 5 points. There are, of course, many other things to consider, but this will get us started….

First Point

As gun ownership is a constitutional right, it can’t just be taken away by shouting or pouting. Facts: “amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures”, and “proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the States (38 of 50 States)”. These are high hurdles and why there have only been 27 amendments to the constitution. The will of the people to keep private gun ownership, the ‘gun lobby’, and the power of money and incumbency means these requirements are unlikely to be met any time soon. So by all means try to exert influence on your elected members for a gun ban. Just be aware this is not likely to bear fruit for a long time… if ever. Violence mitigating strategies would seem to be a better bet.

Second Point

Since we can see that gun ownership does not parallel gun crime in all cases, we can logically deduce there are other factors at play. To properly address the causes, they need to be identified. Otherwise any actions taken are a metaphorical shot in the dark, and even have the potential to make things worse… like taking away legally registered weapons from law abiding citizens in areas prone to crime, and leaving them unprotected from criminals with unregistered firearms. Who are the people committing the bulk of gun crime? Why do they do it? We know gun crime is connected to inner cities. Is poverty necessarily a motivator? These areas tend to have lower incomes,  high rates of gang membership, high rates of drug abuse, low rates of graduation, higher unemployment, less choices for recreation, etc… How much of a role do these factors play? If this is known, root causes can be tackled one by one.

Third Point

As previously mentioned, mass shootings are not representative of most gun crime. In most of the identified cases, the perpetrators had known psychological issues, and some were previously delusional and violent. Combine this with inadequate mental health care and/or medication, lack of oversight, and guns in the home, and there is a recipe for disaster. Make no mistake: A violent and delusional person with a gun is potentially much more deadly than the same person without a gun. But there is no question a determined lunatic can kill without guns. We need to ensure that when these people are identified as delusional and/or violent that they get proper care AND are not provided easy access to weapons. Simply banning guns and not treating the source of the violent tendencies would still leave the potential to kill with other weapons, like knives and bombs.

Fourth Point

Most gun deaths are attributed to handguns. If you want to make the biggest impact in the shortest time, given what we’ve already outlined above, work on handgun restrictions. Hunting rifles… and even assault type rifles… are not often used in gun crime. They are too obvious and bulky to conceal easily. Of course, given the widespread ownership, and the power and money behind the gun lobby, this may not be the most effective strategy.

Fifth Point

Gun crime is centered in the inner cities. All too often these areas are left to the criminal elements. Investment stops, jobs disappear, tax base crumbles, quality of education plummets, and on and on… People turn to drugs to numb their despair. Drug profits fuel gangs. Gangs fight over drug profits, reinforcing the cycle. So how do we stop this cycle of violence? STOP THE WAR ON DRUGS. Stop treating drug addiction as a crime against the state. Start treating addiction. Legalize pot. Put more money into helping people in the inner cities help themselves and take the profits out of the hands of armed gangs. If it doesn’t pay, the gangs will dry up. Help rebuild the tax base and give residents more local control.

Of course this is not an exhaustive list, nor a blueprint. I only want to emphasize that the reactionary calls to ‘ban guns’ is futile at this time, and probably will remain so, at least in the short term. It also does nothing to identify WHY there is all this violence. If WHY is not known, it can not be addressed or treated. And let’s not forget; in the aftermath of these shootings when the call for bans is loudest, gun sales surge…

From → Politics, Skepticism

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