Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Gun Made Me Do It

Bob Costas has been echoing the same tired old talking point that gun control advocates have been spewing for years.  On the O'Reilly Factor, Bob Costas said (paraphrasing) that if more people possess guns that it is more likely that a dispute would escalate because someone has a gun.  What he actually said is here, on the second clip at about the 1:30 mark.  This assumes that the possession of the gun is more likely to cause one person to want to kill another in a dispute.  This is false.  It's true that a person with a gun is more likely to succeed in killing someone else, but the gun does not magically cause someone to be more aggressive.

The problem is not the presence of guns.  The problem is that people in the United States are more likely to want to kill someone than they would be in many other countries.  Many of the highly publicized murders we've seen were preventable without taking away guns.  Kansas City Chiefs Guy had a history of problems in his personal life.  Crazy Guy in Arizona had been reported acting loony at his community college.  Nobody did anything.  If we had been more proactive about identifying and dealing with these problems, they never would have escalated into violence.

More recently,  Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida.  This was an escalation of a simple argument.  A motive for murder that is all too common.  This is the real problem.  People in the United States are willing to kill for stupid reasons.  Apparently, Jordan Davis and his pals were just playing their music too loud.  That's not a sufficient reason to kill.  We should be focusing our efforts on figuring out why people are willing to do things this senseless.

Instead, Costas and others simply fixate on the guns.  If two guys want to kill each other and we take away their guns, it doesn't suddenly make them not want to kill each other.  Disarming us isn't the answer.

Gun control advocates like to point to other industrialized nations which have strict gun control laws and lower crime.  But they always forget to mention Russia and Brazil.  Russia has extremely strict gun control laws, but twice the murder rate of the US.  Brazil is the most violent industrialized nation in the world, despite its gun laws.  Here in the US, gun ownership has been on the rise, despite the fact that violent crimes have been declining for years.  The presence or lack of guns or gun control laws isn't the problem or the solution.

The problem of violence is extremely complex and nuanced.  Simply demanding gun control every time a tragedy happens is a simple-minded solution.  Simple-minded solutions do not fix complex problems.  We need to make an effort to identify why we can't identify dangerous people in time and why ordinary people are so willing to kill for ridiculous reasons.  Until we accept that deeper analysis is necessary, this problem won't go away.

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