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Stopping Mass Shootings: Let's begin with gun control...
To shoot or not to shoot...
In the wake of yet another mass shooting in the Unites States of America the gun control debate is seeing renewed life. Again. Tempers are flaring. Again. Fingers are pointing. Again.
Guns kill people, no matter what the NRA says... they make it easier to kill a large number of people in a small amount of time.Thirty-two students at Virginia Tech, twenty-three people at a Luby's Diner, fourteen postal workers, and twelve theater goers. We have even seen shootings in houses of worship and peace centered communities in the past few years. These shooting can take place in a matter of minutes. Virginia tech was over in 20 minutes, the Aurora theater killings took about ten.
If we did not have easy access to guns in the US, these shootings would not happen.There is no question. So the debate renews once again, and the politicians take their sides.It sounds great as a political platform, but does it really solve the problem?
As Eddie Izzard says, Guns don't kill people without a little bit of help. The trouble with blaming the guns is, they still need a mind troubled enough to pull the trigger.
A Nation Bearing Arms
There are now more than 350 million guns in this country. Enough to arm every man, woman and child. One in four U.S. homes owns guns, and most of them own more than one. So, before we even begin a debate on gun control we must ask... how do you even begin to control something that is that widespread?
Violence is a problem that has been growing in our country for a very long time. Every year, 42% of Americans will be the victim of a violent crime. Very nearly half of us. 436,000 of those offenses will be committed by an offender visibly armed with a gun. The bad guys have guns, and a lot of them.
Bad Guys With Guns
I am a gun owner, but I'm still not certain how I feel about guns on the whole. The man who stalked me is a gun owner, therefore I own a gun. It wasn't an easy decision, but in the end I feel safer with a gun than I do without one. I can safely assume that that is the reason that most people who own guns have chosen to do so. Because they feel safer.
There are a lot of bad guys out there, and they are most certainly armed. While many would like to believe that removing the guns from everybody is the answer... what happens when the guns are taken away from the good guys?
Gun Laws Wont Fix This
I'd like to believe that we live in a nation full of law abiding citizens, but around 10 thousand people are murdered with a firearm every single year in the United States. Let's assume that strict guns laws were passed tomorrow, and all American citizens were required to turn their firearms over the the U.S. Government... how many do you assume would do so?
I'd be willing to bet that those 10 thousand people who picked up a gun and killed someone would not be among those who would voluntarily turn them in. Nor would the rapists, the muggers or the angry partners. If they are willing to break the laws now, why would they suddenly be willing to comply just because new laws are passed.
Where a new gun control law might convince me to give up my guns in the name of legality, I am also aware that it would put me at a distinct disadvantage when it came to the bad guys who chose to keep theirs. Then my choice would be to protect myself from criminals or to be a criminal.
A World Without Guns
In many of the worst school tragedies, guns weren't even a factor and in many of those that were there were already strict gun control tactics in place.
Germany 2002 - Germany has strict gun laws, however, Robert Steinhaeuser joined an officially accredited club for sport shooting and passed the rigorous German tests required to own a gun. He entered his school and killed killed 17 people, mostly teachers before being restrained and killing himself.
Michigan 1927 - The worst school tragedy in US history happened in 1927 when farmer, Andrew Kehoe was responsible for a bizarre series of explosions that ripped through Bath. Destroyed were his farmhouse and the local school building. A total of 38 children, 7 adults were killed, and 61 injured. Had officials not discovered the remaining explosives in time the death toll could have been in the hundreds.
Japan 2001 - Japan has some of the strictest gun legislation in the world, yet has still had its share of mass violence. People have armed themselves with rat poison, homemade guns, and knives. Mamoru Takuma was armed with a 6-inch kitchen knife, he wounded 13 first- and second-graders and two teachers. He killed seven girls, ranging in age from seven- to eight-years-old, and one six-year-old boy. He plead guilty and was sentenced to death... at his execution he stated : "I should have used gasoline, so I could have killed more than I did."
Germany 1964 - Walter Seifert converted a garden sprayer into a flamethrower and filled it with an easily flammable mixture that could deliver a six-meter flame. He took his new flamethrower, a lance that was 1.5 meters long and a homemade iron centrifuge to the Catholic elementary school at Cologne, Volkhoven.
Sweden 1998 - Shoresh Kaveh was disappointed that his reputation alone did not get him admitted to a dance without paying the cover charge. He and his friends blocked the exits and set fire to the building, 63 were killed and another 200 were injured.
Guns, Guns and More Guns
So far not one person has been able to tell me exactly how "Obama is going to take our guns away!!!" How does one go about removing the guns from an estimated 52 million of American households?
Is he planning on knocking on all of our doors, or just a select few?It seems to me that guns have been a part of our culture for a very long time, and despite numerous mass tragedies they are still readily available to anybody who cares to look for them.
There has to be a way to stop mass shootings such as the one in the Aurora movie theater, but the discussion always gets sidetracks by politics and personal feelings.If you take away the guns, and we have made no other changes that will address the mental health issues that drove the man with the gun, or the society that created that man in the first place. Normal healthy people do not kill other human beings - there is something far deeper than a weapon at work here.
While I will be the first person to push for ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, mentally unstable people and school children nobody has offered a solution that will also keep the rest of us safe.When that say comes I will gladly hand over my handgun.
I am all for discussing gun control and how it can be used to keep guns away from those who would do harm, but lets not stop there. There are so many other factors that go into the creation of a school shooter - the gun was just a small part of the overall recipe.
My award winning article "Profile of a School Shooter - Recipe for Mass Murder" take an in depth look into these "ingredients."
Let's begin with a discussion about gun control... but please let's not end there.