Gun Control: Leftist conspiracy or sensible social policy?
Some people shouldn’t have guns…
Like so many issues in this great land of ours, gun control has been polarized by self serving politicians and extremists, to the point where sensible debate is all but impossible. (I find extremists on any issue tiresome, and this is one of the worst.) So of course our social policy never really changes, and like so many other issues, the USA lags decades behind the rest of the west in his regard. Whether this is good or bad is debatable, sort of, but what is not debatable is that gun violence in America is a problem. In year 2000 figures, the USA was number eight on the list of the world’s gun homicide rate by nations. This is frankly, shameful.
My position on guns is twofold: I think a tremendous amount could be done to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, children, and lunatics…without infringing on anyone’s rights. I have no problem with waiting periods, buy-back programs, trigger guards, and limits on types of guns and the amount of ammunition they can hold. Since the individual right to bear arms is clearly and safely protected by the constitution, I find it downright annoying that the NRA and others fight any and all restrictions on gun ownership. Sorry guys and gals, and I speak as a former NRA member, the second amendment clearly states: “A well regulated militia…”
Secondly, the people that think guns are the problem and that gun control alone will fix it are also barking up the wrong tree. Gun violence is a complex social problem, there are plenty of countries with restrictive gun laws that have terrible gun crime. There is at least one country where citizens are issued assault rifles and required to keep them in their homes that has virtually no gun crime. Why some countries have a lot of gun crime and others don’t is a complex issue. Europe had far less gun crime than the US long before they banned most private gun ownership. Some Eastern European countries passed carry laws recently to fight the crime wave than ensued after the Russians pulled out. (A carry law is a law that allows qualified citizens to own and carry a weapon.) For every example about gun violence and guns laws, there is a counter example.
There is no doubt that there is a culture of gun violence and violent retribution in America. I think that is a huge and understated part of the problem, and most people don’t want to look at it because it’s complex and hard to understand. (In actuality, in some ways it’s pretty simple to understand: Monkey see, monkey do.) Violent movies and violent video games don’t cause gun violence, but they sure as hell aren’t helping. And having a government that freely exercises the “right” to bomb people anywhere on the planet also isn’t helping. Violent song lyrics are part of the problem. Then of course there is the endless flow of reporting on and images of violent crimes coming from our news media. (Heck, they might as well start a “Virginia Tech Killer Cable Network” at this point.) My point is that by living in a world where people are immersed in a sea of violent messages and images…is it any wonder that too many unstable Americans resort to violence to solve their problems?
So I certainly am in favour of efforts to keep guns out of the hands of people who might misuse them, and that includes most young people. I was an irresponsible gun owner as a young man, and honestly think that since guns are more dangerous than alcohol, maybe they should be restricted to people 25 and over. I also don’t see any need for people to own guns that can fire massive amounts of ammunition in a short time. Either restriction might have mitigated or prevented the massacre at Virginia Tech. Conversely the carry law people do have a point, I’m willing to bet that there are professors at Virginia Tech who are mature and responsible enough to carry a gun. It’s a lot harder to gun down people who cannot shoot back, and I suspect it’s a lot less tempting. Would the pathetic immature coward who pulled this massacre off even have attempted it, had he known some of his victims might be able to fight back?
In the final analysis, all of the above is just attacking the symptoms. Which is just fine as far as it goes, but if there’s an overall observation I would make, it’s that stable settled countries with a high degree of social fairness (IE few slums and poor people) are the ones with little or no violent crime. Until the day America is one of those countries, (and I’m afraid we seem to be moving in the opposite direction,) crime and gun violence is going to be a problem. I can only hope that this tragedy inspires us to look for reasonable stopgap and long term solutions to our failings as a society
Snort. In reality there will likely be some ultimately toothless laws passed purely for show, and the problem will be further compartmentalized as colleges “increase security” by further isolating their students. Security consultants, firms, and talking heads will cash in handsomely for some time to come. The gun industry won’t even be fazed and may even make more sales as people buy guns to protect themselves. No change will be made in the social areas that are fostering crime and violence, we won’t even discuss them. Immigrant bashers, Asian bashers and gun bashers will have a cause célèbre for years to come. And none of this will make a dent on the problem of gun violence in America.
So sooner or later, coming to a venue near you: Virginia Tech II
(The above Simpsons image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post. The Simpsons were created by Matt Groening.)