ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Politics and Social Issues»
  • Social Issues

Gun Control - Will Public Safety Improve by Controlling Guns?

Updated on August 7, 2013
Source

The heartless slaughter of 20 kindergarten students and seven adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut has placed gun control at the forefront of the national conversation - once again. The logic has an inexorable simplicity to it. If Adam Lanza did not have guns this never would have happened. It seems straightforward, doesn't it? No guns, no deaths. This article questions the logic of assuming that more gun laws will improve public safety. It also questions whether leaders who argue for more gun control are being responsible or even intellectually honest.

Guns Are the Weapon of Choice in Most Mass Murders

Mass murders of innocents often involve guns. That is undeniable. The list, sadly, grows:

· Long Island Railroad New York 1993 - 6 deaths and 19 injuries

· University of Texas Tower massacre in 1966 - 16 deaths and 29 injuries

· Moses Lake Washington 1996 - 3 killed 1 injured

· Thurston High School Oregon 1998 - 2 deaths and 22 injuries

· Westside Middle School Arkansas 1998 - 5 deaths and 10 injuries

· Columbine High School Colorado 1999 - 12 deaths and 21 injuries

· Red Lake High School Minnesota 2005 - 10 deaths and 5 injuries

· Amish Schoolhouse Pennsylvania 2006 - 6 deaths and 5 injuries

· Virginia Tech 2007 - 33 deaths and 29 injuries

· Chardon High School Ohio 2012 - 3 deaths and 3 injuries

· Aurora movie theater shooting 2012 - 12 deaths and 59 injuries

The shooter or shooters are often killed during the incident or they committed suicide. Because of this, psychiatric details are often missing and professional mental health opinions are rendered based on factual details gleaned from interviews with the perpetrator's family and acquaintances.

What is a Psychopath?

Few would disagree that the killers in these cases were mentally ill, possibly psychopaths. According to an article in the Association for Psychological Science,a psychopath suffers from a personality disorder manifested by shallow emotions, lack of fear, no empathy, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, impulsivity, antisocial behavior, a lack of remorse and a parasitic lifestyle. In Erik Larson's bestselling book The Devil in the White City, he provides a detailed story of psychopathic serial killer H.H Holmes. Holmes was a charming con man who lured victims to his elaborate Murder Castle.

A Cunning Mentally Deranged Person Will Not Be Deprived of His Weapon

When I say a mentally deranged person I am including the mass killers mentioned above as well as committed jihadists and other radicals who kill in the name of religion or ideology. These are not killers who turn to murder out of rage, jealousy or any of the other motives known best to opera writers. These are cold blooded killers who drench themselves in the soothing waters of evil and turn their desire for death upon innocent victims.

Try a mental exercise. Imagine that we could eliminate ALL guns in the hands of people other than those in law enforcement. This is quite an imaginative exercise, because it can't be done, at least not here in the United States under our Constitutional framework. But let's imagine on and let's see how it could be done. First it would require a repeal of the Second Amendment, the one that guarantees us the right to bear arms. Next it would require martial law, because removing guns means removing guns from all citizens, and that takes some pretty tricky police work, not the kind that could be done under current law. Then we would have to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus, because we couldn't brook a lot of pesky lawyers demanding to know why their clients were incarcerated. To further imagine a totally gun free society we would need the authorities to conduct warrantless home and car searches to make sure nobody is harboring a gun. This, of course would require a repeal of the Fourth Amendment, the one that protects us from unreasonable search and seizure. So yes, using the above theoretical framework, we could achieve total gun control, and if you owned one you just may use it one more time - to blow your own brains out.

In the exercise above, we've eliminated all guns. So what's a killer to do? Will he sit down and pen a nasty Letter to the Editor? Will he let out a deep breath and say, "Gee, maybe I shouldn't kill anybody"? Unlikely. A killer kills not because he wants to get practice using his gun. He kills because of his mental derangement or because of his moral derangement. By eliminating all guns, in the above theoretical mind game, all we will have done is to change the choice of weapons. The killer will not be deprived of a weapon.

The Killer's Choices in a Post Gun Control World

A gun is a weapon, nothing more nothing less. A weapon doesn't cause its own use, it is merely an instrumentality.

· 9/11 - Boxcutters were used by Islamic terrorists to subdue the aircraft personal leading to the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the failed attempt possibly aimed at the US Capital. Total killed almost 3,000.

· The Tokyo Subway Attacks of 1995 - Sarin Gas was the weapon of choice by the domestic terrorist group. 13 were killed and about 1,100 injured.

· Car bombs, Molotov cocktails, roadside bombs, and suicide vest bombs. To review all of the incidents just in the last 25 years would take a book not an article.

Can There and Should There be Reasonable Gun Control Laws?

You will notice that the above question is loaded - loaded with the word "reasonable." I submit that we have many reasonable gun control laws, that we could use some more, and yes, they should be on the books. Here is what my idea of reasonable is. Please add to this in your comments.

· Mental health background checks. A person who has suffered from mental illness should not be able to possess a gun. This will avoid countless domestic dispute deaths. Will it avoid a mass murder as in the Newton Connecticut tragedy? No it wouldn't. As of this writing we have learned that the killer, Adam Lanza, had a history of mental problems. But the guns were not his. He stole them from his mother.

· Alcohol and drug abuse background checks. It's hard to argue that a habitual drunk or drug addict should not have a gun. These people are not known for their reasoned judgment. But, just as in the above discussion of mental health checks, such regulations will not prevent an intentional mass murder. A committed killer will find his weapons, guns or otherwise.

In the wake of a tragedy such as Newtown, the issue of gun control inevitably comes up. Who can be more innocent than the little victims in their school? A lot of the gun control pleas that began within hours of the tragedy could almost be recorded messages. This article is intended to focus on a terribly important issue, the murder of innocents, and to avoid the clichés of the gun control debate. I will be happy to respond to reasoned comments. If you majored in psychology and regurgitate your senior thesis in a comment, I'm not available to respond. This is a far more serious matter. If experience is any guide, I will see that many commentators will read my title and respond to it without reading the article. Please read it and then respond.

Copyright © 2012 by Russell F. Moran


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Oppeakra profile image

      Oppeakra 4 years ago from Min, USA

      Hi! I like how you write, and your point of view. Could you please check out my hub that is about gun control? Thanks!

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      mikeg422 thanks for your comments. The MSN has a playbook and if Americans don't want to play by their rules we will be ignored.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Suzette, the truly scary thing is our inability to predict these events. Like earthquakes, they suddenly happen. All we can do is hope to cut down on the odds.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago from Pasadena CA

      I've traveled halfway around the world - lived in three other countries - met people from all walks and levels of life. Only once have I met anyone outside of prison who was inherently violent. They were professional killers and I couldn't speak to them or even look at them. The hair stood straight up on the back of my neck when I heard them call out to my friends. I don't believe that inherent violence is the problem here. If I were to put two and two together, I would say that creating life-like violence in the imagination (e.g. avatars), coupled with alcohol and drugs that release inhibitions (incl. prescription), teamed with the easy availability of guns and how the media portrays killing, contribute or even cause the killing sprees. There aren't more of them because all of these factors don't conjoin with most people. My nephews who play games online are not using the realistic ones, but cartoon-like characters, for example. People who don't have access to guns, but do have the other factors converging, play it out in other ways - arguments and abuse in the home, severe headaches when their inherent decency wars inside with the push to fight, etc.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      mikeg422 thanks for your comments. The MSN has a playbook and if Americans don't want to play by their rules we will be ignored.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thanks for your comments my friend. Getting illegal guns off the streets is a worthy goal, if an unattainable one. Buybacks work a bit, but I fear the ones bringing their guns in for cash are not the ones we need to worry about.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 4 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Great hub, very thought prvoking and I agree with most of what you say. One thing that must be done is getting the illegal guns off the street. Why I think this is so important is that in the area I live there is lots of gangs and they are the ones doing the killing in my neck of the woods. It won't solve all the problems around people who murder, but it would be a start!

    • Mikeg422 profile image

      Michael Gill 4 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      A big point that many seem to miss is one simple fact. Humans are inherently violent animals, murder is as old as man regardless of the chosen tool. The only reason it is now such a heated issue is because the main slime media report only one side of this debate, and make many Americans feel as if they will be forced to do something they don't want to do. I would wager that if the media was fair, and unbiased reporting facts and statistical data instead of opinion and propaganda it would be far easier to come to a compromise. Americans do not like being pushed around or told what to do.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago from Pasadena CA

      So it comes back to healing the broken parts of our society that is precipitating the killing. Anyone know if there was an escalation point and what was going on at the time? Could there be a psyche involved that relates to the number of prisoners in our country, which seems to have jacked up beyond reasonable measures? Again, I know that people never do what they haven't imagined or "seen" first, so where is that vision coming from?

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Phyllis, I think all that we can realistically hope to acheive is to cut down on the odds. We are a nation of 315 Million, and it shouldn't surprise us that some of us are insane killers. We can cut down on, but can never eliminate senseless killing.

    • phyllisjeangreen profile image

      phyllisjeangreen 4 years ago

      All I know is, there is significantly more violence in the U.S. than other industrialized nations, and well over half of the homicides that are committed here involve guns. Since an assault weapon makes it possible to kill more people at once, and to do it quickly, it seems to me that we need to ban them again. Like, now. Like via a law that has meat on it. Is enforceable!

      We have to think things through. Picture a future in which most people over age 17 have ready access to assault weapons. To my way of thinking, bloodthirsty individuals {and groups} will see that they are expert shots, and they alone will have no compunction about shooting innocent people. Some will do it for money, some for pure pleasure. The only outcome I can envision is a bloodbath.

      Just because we failed to come up with -- or enforce -- a reasonable gun law doesn't mean we are incapable of it. The causes of violence, as is ably pointed out above, are many and complex. All need to

      be looked at closely. One that seems not to come up is irresponsible medicine. I have read that most school-shootings are perpetrated by children who have at one time or another been prescribed anti-depressants. It is no secret that side effects are sometimes as bad or worse than the malady. Oftentimes, no one is monitoring drug

      intake, efferts, etc. I don't know anyone with any smarts who says controlling assault weapons is 'the' answer, but surely it is one of the important ones.

      Thanks for opening this dialogue. Very useful!

      Phyllis

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments Mike. I totally agree that we should allow armed people for school security. The conventional wisdom used to be that if you're caught in a mass shooting incident, lie down and make like you're dead. But the behaviour of mass killers, such as in the Newtown case, hows that they repeatedly shoot bodies to make sure they're dead. The photo all over the Internet of the Israeli woman teacher with a rifle slung over her shoulder is telling - There have been no mass killings in any Israeli school. I'm hung up, however, on the availability of semi-automatic weapons, These are offensive weapons and only have use in a military or law enforcement setting. Here is a link to a fabulous article on the subject, even better than my hub! http: //bit.ly/RBVIxX

    • Mikeg422 profile image

      Michael Gill 4 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      rfmoran Great hub. I would like to interject my thoughts on this whole "gun control" issue. For anyone wondering why we need assault rifles to be legal the answer is simple...that is the weapon of choice for our military. Why should we have the same armament as the military you ask? Again simple, our country was founded by rebels, thus our forefathers installed laws garunteeing that revolution would always be possible. Our Second Amendment right is not for hunting, self defense, or sport shooting, it is so the American people can never be ruled by tyranny, so our government is always afraid of our wrath.

      "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.

      The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is

      wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts

      they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,

      it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...

      And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not

      warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of

      resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as

      to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost

      in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from

      time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

      It is its natural manure." Thomas Jefferson

      Another point of view that is often forgotten in this debate is the level of National security our gun owners offer to our country. Allegedly in WWII, Isoroku Yamamoto Commander in Chief of the Implerial Japanese Navy was quoted saying "You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass." You really have to think about the truth of this statement, any foreign general even thinking of invading the mainland US would be faced with a logistic nightmare. Our military is having a hard enough time in the Middle-East, and their gun ownership statistics pale in comparison to ours. This is honestly the reason no US president has been foolish enough to try and ban guns in the US.

      Terrible tragedies perpetrated by madmen will always happen as you said regardless of weapon availability. My argument would go one step further to say if gun laws reflected the intentions of our forefathers many may have been saved. Let's say theoretically every citizen was allowed to carry firearms on their person at all times, in the most recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary one of the teachers instead of cowering with their students, and praying to survive, may have been able to put a round through the shooter's head effectively cutting short his reign of terror. I know it sounds harsh, but we all know criminals and lunatics alike prey on the weak and defenseless, so in what world would making ourselves more defenseless be the right answer.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Bandaids are exactly what any of these measures are. Bandaids and photo ops for grandstanding politicians. What we're talking about it legislating away evil, a tall order.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago from Pasadena CA

      Hmmm. Have you noticed that our society has a strong focus on bandaiding and doesn't really look well at initial causes? This article was well written, for as far as it went. It was all about the reactive suggestions people have had to ban gun or bullet sales or treat our mental health system better. But those are both bandaids. What caused the kid to see himself shooting children in the first place? I still believe it goes back to the imagination overwhelming common sense or losing control - which means exposure to violent video games and movies, (killing associated with heroism), and also our educational system that has removed early life practice in using the right brain.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Suzette. Check out this excellent article by a writer for Newsweek. It's the most thoughtful and thorough I've seen (including mine). http: //bit.ly/RBVIxX

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thanks Rick. Yes, some people imagine a disembodied gun going around firing at people.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago from Pasadena CA

      . . . which disarmament doesn't apply in the case of these kids. I read that most of the kids had been shot 5 or 6 times, which implies the use of the semi-automatic.

      What I hope for (and expect, really) is that the discussion will start with renewed determination to do something about gun laws, but then extend to looking at the underlying causes of such actions and making correspondingly deeper changes. Much needs to be changed in the US, societally and legally, and many of our ills are interrelated, as are their potential solutions. I know we're in agreement with this.

    • Rbostick profile image

      Rick Bostick 4 years ago from Spearsville, LA

      Great article. It helps place the attention on the shooter, which is where it should be. It takes a person on the other side of a firearm for that weapon to take a life. People find it easier to focus on the means instead of the cause, which is usually mental instability.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Susette, I too wonder what is the purpose of a semi automatic for other than police or military use. The killer can spray bullets with a long time before he has to stop to reload. When a killer reloads it gives the victims a chance to disarm him.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago from Pasadena CA

      True, those who intend to kill will find a weapon of some sort, but making the kinds of weapons available that kill numbers of people in one shot is not a good option. In fact, it's almost an open invitation, especially to terrorist or crazy types. That includes the shot used by those weapons. Something needs to change on many fronts.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Thanks Bill. I had replied to you before but I have no idea where it went. Frankly I don't know what one needs with 15 rounds, except in an offensive weapon.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Frank, It isn't clear what arguments can be made if "one thing is certain." The left, quite predictably, is seizing on this tragedy to jump on a long loved political agenda, the objective being a docile disarmed populace. To repeat what I said in my article, in spite of your "certainty" is that a killer will choose his weapon, whatever it may be.

    • profile image

      Frank Orzo 4 years ago

      Russ: There are many intellectual arguments that can be put forth. But one thing is certain. If that mentally ill person did not have access to automatic weapons, 20 innocent children students and 6 educators would be alive today. We need change on several fronts, and it will not happen quickly but let this be a defining moment - change our constitution, make it more difficult for these individuals to acquire weapons and eliminate violent video games.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Interesting question about games Susette. As this case goes on and we try to plumb the depths of what turned a human being into a monster, many answers will show up. I think video games and their impact on people has been studied. I will track this down.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago from Pasadena CA

      What is giving all these people the idea of grabbing a gun and killing people to solve their problems? Or make them a hero? None of this would have been done without the imagination being somehow involved. And what causes people's imaginations to go to killing in such a vivid way - that they can hardly distinguish between their imagination and real life? I would like to see the relationship between sales/use of violent video games and actual killings. I know games can be addictive, even to adults. I have a brother who's addicted to them. Could they somehow causing a breakdown of users' grip on reality?

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Our challenge is to find a solution that will help. Once a killer follows his plan there is no regulation that will even slow him down.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Yes Jackie. A committed killer will always find his weapon.

    • rfmoran profile image
      Author

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi Rog! Excellent point. Norway also had stringent gun control laws and that didn't stop a mass assasin

    • dailytop10 profile image

      dailytop10 4 years ago from Davao City

      I doubt. Illegal guns are so widespread nowadays to the extent that putting an end to their circulation is impossible. Nevertheless, efforts stop this are not futile. The only way to solve this problem is for the people and government to unite. Gun owners should be held responsible on their weapon as well, by keeping it secured away from unauthorized and irresponsible hands. Thank you for sharing this timely hub! I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Gun control is simply government control. Killers will always get their guns and everyone knows that...or whatever weapon of their choice. I just have to question the same government wanting gun control that sold criminals untold amounts and only accidentally got caught up in it. Was that unsolved mystery number one?

      What happened was horrible and it always is but no one goes about finding an answer in a sensible way. Tougher laws for crime that are held up no matter your lawyer might be a first good step. Let the criminals know some fear for a change.

    • profile image

      Roger Moran 4 years ago

      Russ, I couldn't agree more. Consider that Connecticut has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, and that the criminal-record-free murderer used properly purchased and registered weapons that he took from his mother's home after he killed her. The killing was apparently carried out with two widely owned 9 mm pistols. What constitutionally permissible gun control regime could have stopped this? None.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Russ, I am torn on gun control, mainly because I have always believed it is a bandage for a cancer in this country. When parenting took a backseat to other interests, we began to see a problem in this country. When the supply of Social Services far outnumbered the need, we began to see a problem in this country. I do not for a second believe that getting rid of assault rifles will end mass murder; on the other hand, I can't for the life of me understand why they shouldn't be banned. Magazines with 15 rounds??? why would anyone need fifteen rounds?

      I hate guns and will never own one, but I'm not convinced that they are the reason why we have these senseless killings. I hate the NRA, but they are not to blame for this.

      I'm in no way arguing with you; just tossing out random thoughts.

      Thanks for a very interesting and compassionate article.