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Author Topic: Gun Violence and Gun Control  (Read 2947 times)
IceAndFire1328
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« on: April 25, 2013, 07:49:46 am »

Gun Violence and Gun Control

I want to start out by saying that I am not a gun enthusiast or a gun collector and I have no personal stake in this argument.  I just want to bring up two points that seems to be lost in all of the frustration and anger resulting from this debate.  There are two questions we need to consider:

1.   Would new gun laws actually resolve the current problems?
2.   Is this recent rise in gun violence directly related to the abundance of guns?


1)    Gun Laws:  There are two types of gun control laws that could be enacted:

•   Add extra criminal charges and more prison time when a gun is used in a crime.
•   Eliminate purchasing loopholes and make it much harder to purchase a gun.

We already have extremely strict penalties regarding using guns in criminal encounters.  These laws help deter gun use in certain types of crimes and I’m not opposed to adding stiffer sentences to these crimes.  However, a person intent on murder (or mass murders) is not going to be concerned about facing additional years in prison because he used a gun.  He already is facing the death penalty or life in prison. 

This only leaves the option of enacting laws designed to keep guns from these people in the first place.  Apart from any Constitutional arguments, is it even realistic to think that this would work?  Restricting gun access might work if the U.S. didn’t have many guns in the first place and we could restrict guns from coming across our borders. 

Even if the U.S. didn’t have many guns, we would never be able to keep new guns from crossing our very porous borders.  Remember, we are almost powerless in stopping drugs and illegal immigrants from crossing our borders.  Even with all of our security concerns after 9/11, we still have not been able to seal up these borders.

As of 2007, there were over 270 million civilian guns in the U.S (Small Arms Survey 2007 p. 67).  We are not even talking about military or law enforcement guns.  Do we really think that all of these civilian guns are owned by upstanding law-abiding citizens?  No, it is estimated that around 75 to 100 million of these guns are owned by the criminal underworld or by people who could not pass the current background checks.  In addition, millions of guns are currently available on the black market.  For all practical purposes, buying an illegal gun is just as easy as buying illegal drugs. 

Yes, it is true that many of the recent high-profile shootings were done with guns that were purchased legally.  However, is that really the issue?  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we are able to enact laws that would completely close off all loopholes for the sales of legal guns.  Only solid law-abiding citizens can now purchase guns.  Let’s also say that we don’t have over 230 thousand guns stolen from homes every year (Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 8, 2012). 

Do you really think that a person who is bent on murder would have a moral dilemma about buying an illegal gun from the black market instead of through legal channels?  Unless you can effectively eliminate the sales of guns in the criminal under-world, new gun control laws will be virtually ineffective.  Yes, these laws would make us feel good, but they would be unproductive.

2)    The reason for the recent gun violence:   

Is our recent increase in gun violence a result of a recent surplus of guns?  No, the United States has always had an abundance of guns, but we have not always had this level of violence or gun violence.  Violence, especially gun violence has increased significantly over the past several decades.  If the abundance of guns is not the source of this violence, what is the source?

For whatever reason, there has been a marked shift in the stability of our society.  A large number of people are now developing a tendency toward violent outbursts.  Their ability to control these outbursts also seems to be diminishing.  In addition, a large number of people have taken on the mindset that they don’t need to follow “normal social behavior.”  What is causing this shift?  I’m sure there are many factors involved in this problem, but I would like to offer a partial explanation. 

We are all governed by various sets of values.  Some of these values are hard wired within us, such as the feeling that it is wrong to lie, steal, rape, and murder.  Other values have been instilled in us by our parents, schools, and community, such as work ethics, cultural expectations, etc.  As we grow up we begin to realize that some of these values are man-made and we start to wonder if we need to keep them.  Some of these values are discarded while others are kept.

Despite all of these changes, the person still feels that certain behavior is inherently right or wrong.  However, what would happen if the person would be continually bombarded with the teaching that there are no absolute truths, no universal standard of right or wrong?  Well, basically, he will begin to feel that no behavior is inherently good or bad, nothing is really wrong.  He would feel that he can basically do whatever he wants.  He would be free to pursue whatever would profit him the most. 

Now, couple this mindset with a person who is extremely angry.  Normally, when a person is angry, his actions are governed by a value system that prohibits certain anti-social actions.  However, when a person believes that there are no absolute values of right or wrong, then there is nothing to hold him back.  An extremely angry person who has no anti-social restrictions is capable of doing almost anything.  They are hurting deep inside and they want others to hurt.  Hurting a large number of people becomes one of their consuming desires.

If the shift in society is the real reason why we have an increase in gun violence, especially the high-profile school shootings, then gun control or even gun elimination will not make any significant difference in the violence we are experiencing.  Violent people will simply find a new weapon of choice.  If a person wants to harm other people, he will find a way to do it. 

If clubs were the only weapons available, this angry person would use a club to try to beat to death as many people as possible.  If there are no other people nearby who also have clubs, he will probably be able to hurt or kill a large number of people.  As a general rule, any weapon can be used as a weapon of mass murder if there are no other weapons nearby to stop him.

Many people will disagree with me.  They will argue that eliminating guns will eliminate the ability to quickly attack a large number of people.  While it is true that guns are quick and convenient, other weapons can also be used to attack large groups of people in a short period of time.  The stabbing of 14 people at the Lone Star Texas Community College two weeks ago is proof of this.  If guns were eliminated, knifes or machetes could easily take their place.  Machetes have been used in numerous attacks at school.  Following is a quick list of attacks at schools where machetes were used.
   
•   1977, a man kills five people in El Socorro
•   1996, a man slashed seven people in a primary school in England
•   2001, a man brutally slashed nine people in Pennsylvania
•   2010, a man in Nanping China hacked 13 children, killing 8
•   2011, a student was killed in South Africa
•   2012, a man in Guangxi China hacked 16 people in a private day care, killing 3
•   2012, a man in Guatemala City killed two children

The only reason why we have more shootings at school verses stabbings is because guns are currently the weapon of choice.  If guns were eliminate the violent people would simply move to a new weapon of choice.
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2xA Ron
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2013, 11:59:57 am »

I think you have some valid points.  In particular, your idea for why gun violence is rising is interesting and fits with cultural trends.

I'm not sure that eliminating guns (were there a magical way to do so) wouldn't reduce the death toll of killing sprees.  I agree that spree-killers would then turn to the next most convenient and dangerous weapon, which would probably be a bladed weapon of some kind, but such weapons are slower and hard to use with lethal effectiveness, as the statistics you cited demonstrated, where most of the victims in machete-sprees survived, whereas most victims of shooting sprees die.  Anyone can kill a victim by putting a gun to their head and squeezing the trigger, but killing someone with a knife generally takes a slightly better knowledge of anatomy as well as more muscle and fighting skill (not much, but some, since if the attacker's close enough to stab them, they're close enough to break the attacker's nose; whereas guns allow attackers to kill without giving the unarmed victim any chance at self-defense).

The most compelling argument I've seen for further restricting the possession of guns is to reduce the risk of suicide.  Previous studies with suicide-prevention barriers on bridges have shown that preventing suicide by one means drops the overall rate across all means.  It seems most people who would commit suicide from one means won't simply seek the nearest or best alternative if that means is blocked to them.  Instead, they generally think better of it.  Eliminating guns might have a similar effect on the suicide rate: if people couldn't simply end it all by putting a bullet through their head using the gun in their nightstand, they might have a change in heart instead of reaching for six bottles of sleeping pills.

But as far as realistic gun control goes (control that doesn't involve magical elimination of firearms), I agree that I don't think it would be very effective in preventing spree shootings (the usual stated goal).  It seems to me that most shooters either possess their firearms legally, having no previous record, or else (like the Newtown shooter) by forcibly taking them from friends or family who possess them legally.  Requiring additional background checks on the law-abiding family member won't keep someone else from stealing the guns using them.  And of course, this ignores the possible sources of the black market, who obviously won't be following gun-control laws or running background checks on customers  Tongue.

In some cases, gun control measures--specifically gun-free zones which prevent legal concealed-carry permit holders from bearing weapons--may be contributing to the rise of spree-shootings.  A disproportionate number of spree shootings take place in posted gun-free zones, and spree-shootings in such areas arguably result in significantly higher casualties.  For instance, there was a shooting at a church here locally which was ended when an ex-cop shot down the gunman before he could get into the auditorium.  If the church had required the ex-cop to leave her concealed handgun behind, the gunman probably would have killed dozens at the least instead of only two.
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Linda
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2013, 12:51:44 pm »

Why are we talking about gun control?
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2xA Ron
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2013, 08:28:40 pm »

Why not?  Wink

I suppose this one might actually belong over in "off-topic," but then that's just my perspective.
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Linda
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2013, 01:46:15 pm »

Yeah, it's off topic. I hate to detract from people who are coming here actually looking for information about GC.
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BTDT
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 12:39:15 pm »

FWIW, I think this should be in "off topic" as well.  I'd really like to see GC, and recovery from GC, be the main theme here.  Just one vote, but consider it cast. :-)
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