Each time there is a tragic shooting, including an incident Friday at an elementary school in Connecticut and another Tuesday at an Oregon mall, you can count on two things.
One is the shock and outrage over the fact someone would dare prey on innocent victims in public venues near and dear to Americans’ hearts: places where we go to school and shop, in the case of the latest tragedies. This response is certainly in order, given that more than 20 people might have died senselessly in Friday’s shooting and three in Oregon, including the shooters at both locations.
The other thing you can count on — not as welcome, in my book — is that gun-control advocates will come out of the woodwork even before the smoke has cleared and use the latest catastrophe as political fodder to further their goals.
On the surface, they always seem to target assault rifles or weapons that hold large numbers of rounds. But there is an undercurrent that makes you believe that if the staunchest gun-control advocates had their way, no one would be allowed to own any firearms whatsoever.
Certainly none of us like to see these violent events occur, particularly during the Christmas season. Even sadder is the fact they happen so frequently nowadays we have come to lose count of them. Plus, there is the feeling in the back of everyone’s mind that at any given time they are out in public, another madman might strike.
However, would outlawing guns prevent such incidents, or allay our fears?
I will answer that question with another one: Did Prohibition keep people from drinking alcohol?
Not only did Prohibition fail in preventing liquor consumption or the harm it can cause, it also created a set of new problems even worse. First and foremost was the birth of organized crime and all the murder and mayhem that has resulted from it to this day.
Just as making drugs illegal hasn’t kept them off the streets, outlawing guns would not prevent the possession of them as well. People would simply get weapons through black-market channels.
As is the case with most anything else, tighter gun regulations would affect only the law-abiding citizens in making it harder for them to own firearms for legitimate reasons including self defense.
Study after study has shown that gun ownership lessens violent crime rather than increases it, as those in favor of more regulation would have you believe.
One such analysis in Colorado was based on news stories published between October 2003 and November 2011 in the wake of that state passing a concealed-carry law in 2003.
In response to that provision, Colorado State University opted to allow concealed weapons on its campus, while the University of Colorado prohibited firearms. Colorado State subsequently experienced a rapid decline in reported crimes, while crime at the latter did just the opposite. Since 2004, incidents there rose 35 percent at the same time they fell by 60 percent at Colorado State.
Not only do those figures indicate that guns don’t undermine safety, they would seem to promote the aim of safety since thugs are less likely to victimize someone they think might be armed.
It almost goes without saying that persons with a criminal mindset inherently do not obey laws. So more gun regulations would seem to have no effect on those people, who simply would find other ways to secure weapons. Meanwhile, good folks would be deprived of a means to protect themselves against the bad.
The anti-gun forces are additionally misguided in targeting the tools that someone uses to cause mayhem rather than the human behavior that’s responsible. Along with shooting rampages, there have been well-publicized cases of people driving cars into crowds and causing deaths, but I haven’t seen anyone call for a ban on motor vehicles in response to that.
Persons who have a desire to harm others will find some way to do so. In the days of cavemen, clubs were used and later on came knives and swords and bows and arrows. Now it’s weapons of the powder and lead variety, but in the future ray guns or lasers probably will be employed.
Rather than focusing on guns, and restricting law-abiding Americans who own them responsibly, why not concentrate on some of the societal ills that promote violent acts?
One is the deplorable justice system that recycles violence criminals in and out of prison, which we see all the time in Surry County with the same people committing crimes again and again. Why not lock up some of these individuals until we’re sure they won’t cause further problems, or until they’re too old to do so — whichever comes first?
And while there’s no excuse for someone murdering another, I would think that the decline of the family, the deterioration of our educational system and general moral decay also is to blame for the recent rash of gun violence.
But the solution is definitely not more anti-gun legislation, so lawmakers should look elsewhere for the answer.
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1924 or email@example.com.