"It's Not About The Guns" - But They Are Involved
When Are We Doing Something About Gun Violence?
On August 26, 2018, news of yet another mass shooting in the United States hit the headlines. This time, it was at Jacksonville Landing where a Madden NFL 19 video game tournament was taking place. Allegedly, the suspect opened fire and ultimately turned a gun on himself after injuring at least 11 and killing at least two others.
While questions swirl as to the shooter's motive behind the attack and whether he knew those he injured or killed, other questions loom on the horizon. The biggest among these is likely, "When is the United States going to do something - anything - about gun violence?"
This is not to say that other nations, such as Canada, are immune to gun violence. Goodness knows there are many locations worldwide that deal with the threat of gun violence daily. However, to deny that the United States has had an ongoing problem with shootings, particularly in recent years, would be to bury one's head in the sand.
Some have argued it's because people today are ill-equipped to deal with the stresses of living in the 21st century - that pressures continue to mount and ultimately, the person snaps and lashes out. Certainly, we do see people become angry and irritable as a result of stress, but for much of the population, this anger and irritation will boil down to a whole lot of bark and no bite. Perhaps some yelling, perhaps some tears, but generally speaking, there is not a violent response to stress becoming overwhelming.
Some have argued the spate of gun violence is a direct reflection of the current political climate. That may well be, though I would seriously doubt that this is the case.
Some have even said that "it's not about the guns."
You read that right: there are those who believe a mass shooting is not about the guns. On its surface, this is a true statement, as there are doubtless underlying causes behind every shooting incident that occurs. However, there are problems inherent in taking this approach.
Let's look at access. Some have suggested that a gun registry could be the way to go to help eliminate gun violence. However, one of the big issues with legislating gun control is that criminals will not just simply turn in their firearms, whether they are legally owned or otherwise. Unfortunately, that means that those citizens who own firearms - the pistol that their grandfather had during World War I, for instance, or the handgun that they use for competitive shooting - but who have not, for one reason or another, registered them could get in serious trouble for breaking the law, although they have never had nor will ever have an inclination to shoot people. Meanwhile, real criminals who have access to firearms will continue to maintain them without any sort of registration license and will almost certainly not adhere to any sort of codes that state they need to have trigger locks or be in a gun cabinet.
A gun registry will likely do very little to curb gun violence, largely because (from what I understand, anyhow) firearms are relatively easy to access illegally. A Google Search asking if it was easy to buy a gun illegally received 287 million hits, and the first of these led to a National Post article with the headline "Getting crime guns in Toronto can be as easy as sending a text message. Getting rid of them is much harder". That article was from July 24, 2018, shortly after a gunman killed two and injured 13 in the Danforth neighborhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In the States, there are, of course, citizens who own firearms, just as there are here in Canada. There are also those who know how to obtain firearms illegally if they were of a mind to do so. While there are questions about how the Jacksonville Landing shooter obtained his firearms and how they got into the video game tournament in the first place, the fact is that it seems that firearms are in many ways just easily obtained, in spite of waiting periods and gun registries.
We can't outlaw guns altogether - there are those responsible firearms owners who go hunting for food as part of family or cultural traditions, or who own a farm and sometimes, unfortunately, need to defend their crops or livestock from wild animals. However, politicians need to get together with law enforcement and come up with a way to control access to firearms that makes sense so that those who might be inclined to violence won't have easy access to a gun.
I don't have the answers - not by a long shot - but something has to change.