Gun Tragedies are Crimes…but not the problem

Posted on: July 16th, 2013
I talk to lots of people about the need to address America’s “gun culture”.  It is real and it is in front us almost every day. Something needs to be done…but the question is WHAT.

I recently saw a cartoon with fill in the blanks essentially calling the NRA rabid and the reason why gun violence and mass killings are “on the rise”.  It surmised we need radically new gun laws that restrict whether or not citizens can own guns of any kind, and making AR-style rifles and magazines illegal.  But is that the real answer? I think not…

Mass killings are horrible.  Guns give great power to little people, but they protect law abiding citizens on a daily basis.  So we need to understand what we need the law to do and what can it actually do to protect people.  Can new laws prevent crimes or merely add more ways to charge someone after they commit an atrocity, assuming they do not take their own life during their crime?

Professor James Alan Fox made some interesting statements in his blog last month in his blog Crime and Punishment.  He took a lot of heat for sharing some statistics, but that is the problem with emotionally charged situations.  We take action that may or may not be sensible, workable and successful solutions.  Here are two of his observations.
Myth: Mass shootings are on the rise.
Reality: Over the past three decades, there has been an average of 20 mass shootings a year in the United States, each with at least four victims killed by gunfire. Occasionally, and mostly by sheer coincidence, several episodes have been clustered closely in time. Overall, however, there has not been an upward trajectory. To the contrary, the real growth has been in the style and pervasiveness of news-media coverage, thanks in large part to technological advances in reporting.
Myth: Mass murderers snap and kill indiscriminately.
Reality: Mass murderers typically plan their assaults for days, weeks, or months. They are deliberate in preparing their missions and determined to follow through, no matter what impediments are placed in their path.
There were more and I would encourage you to read his blog to get more details, but you get the point.  Again, the horror of Sandy Hook, Aurora, and all the others is undeniable and unacceptable to anyone, gun owner or not.  There is a great pressure to do something.  Stopping such senseless murders of the innocent is something we all want to do.  But it seems to me that attempting to regulate some 300 million firearms owned by an estimated 80 million Americans, the vast majority of whom obey the law, may not address the actual problem. 

We need to discuss this thoughtfully so that what we do fixes it. Just trying to be “politically popular” and throw out solutions that common sense tells us won’t work…won’t work. As gun owners, let’s be supportive and thought leaders in how to solve the problem, not throwing tomatoes to those who don’t know what to do. It’s our problem as well, let’s help with the solution.
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