Guns are Not the REASONS For the Mass Shootings
We should all be able to agree that the United States has a unique problem in terms of seemingly senseless mass shootings – defined as where four or more individuals are killed or wounded in a single event. It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed in a serious manner.
We should also be able to agree that the vast majority of reported mass shootings are not senseless. We can know and understand the reasons – even as we deplore those reasons. Many are related to gang warfare. Others relate to domestic violence. Some are based on workplace anger. Some are terrorist related. Others are expressions of hate toward racial or religious groups.
The mass shootings that are the most shocking – and get the most media attention – are those that are directed randomly at innocent people, especially children. We call those senseless because we cannot comprehend why anyone would do such a thing. At the same time, we know there are reasons.
Those on the left place great emphasis on THE GUN. We all should be able to agree that the gun is never the REASON for the killing. It is merely the instrument. It takes the human brain to reason – to have a motive. Guns do not have motives and they cannot reason – at least until they acquire Artificial Intelligence (AI). Then, we may have to look at the gun as a perpetrator. Until then, the emphasis needs to be on … the shooter.
There is nothing wrong with regulating the possession and use of weapons. Automatic weapons – one trigger squeeze releases a constant flow of bullets – are currently illegal. There is no operational difference between the semi-automatic (one bullet per squeeze) AR-15 and a basic hunting or target rifle. How can you ban one without banning the other? That is the conundrum legislators face.
But there are restrictions that can be placed on rifles (and pistols) generally. In the past, I have supported outlawing bump stocks that essentially turn a semi-automatic rifle into an automatic rifle. I think background checks are a good Idea – which means some sort of registration.
There are two views as to whether a gun owner should be licensed or the owner AND the individual guns. I tend to favor the former since guns are traceable from the point of purchase – or at least should be. That means guns would have to be legally transferred if privately sold or given away – even if inherited. That would be similar to how we handle car ownership. I need a driver’s license no matter how many cars I own, but the cars are licensed individually.
Age restrictions on the purchase of a gun is already a fact. The issue is establishing the proper age. The legal age of the majority is 18. That seems reasonable. Restriction on purchasing does not mean a restriction on usage. Younger children traditionally engage in target shooting and hunting with family and friends. Competitive shooting is a sport and an Olympic event in which participants start training at an earlier age. Should there be a different usage age restriction? Possibly.
There are features that do distinguish the AR-15 style riffles. They are designed to carry clips with scores of bullets. I can see no legitimate recreational or protective use of a gun that would necessitate many rounds being fired without changing the magazine. I would limit the magazines to 10 or 12 bullets. That is only a small reform since a lot of carnage and be committed with a dozen bullets – and changing magazines is a matter of seconds. But any reduction in firepower is helpful on the margin.
I would also outlaw the bullets that do the most harm on impact. There is no doubt that some mass shooting victims would have survived had it not been for the extreme injuries caused by the most lethal bullets. Standard bullets should suffice for competitive shooting, hunting, and protection.
However, all the aforementioned proposed restrictions will have little impact on mass shootings because the gun is not the shooter. They may make us feel good, but do not do a lot of good to mitigate the problem. In many cases, the deadly use of a gun – mass killings or more limited murders – is committed with an illegal gun. We are not doing nearly enough to get the illegally possessed guns off the streets and out of the homes.
So much for THE GUN.
We should all be able to agree that the gun is not the reason for the killings. It is never the motive. No gun has ever committed a crime. The real problem is the shooter.
There are millions and millions of guns in the homes of millions and millions of people – and the vast majority are responsible citizens who pose no threat to others – with the possible exception of criminals.
I am not sure if we need more or harsher penalties for possessing and using an illegal gun – especially in conjunction with a crime. We already have such laws. Not only are we not doing enough to confiscate illegal guns, but we seem too timid in applying the law to the person. WE may get a gun off the streets, but we leave the shooter at large. It may be partly because of the woke prosecution we currently have in high crime cities. Failure to enforce laws against illegal gun ownership pre-dates cultural wokeness. It just made matters worse.
The mind of the shooter
As long as those on the left keep myopically focusing on the gun, there will be no change. Gun violence is not a single problem susceptible to a single solution. We need to enhance enforcement and prosecution to address the gang-related shooting. We need to look to family counseling to address domestic killings. We need more aggressive intelligence and law enforcement to interdict terrorist attacks – domestic and foreign.
However, all that does not address the reasons why a small number of people see killing others as a viable option – and what makes them cross a restraint that most others have.
The solution to this uniquely American problem is in the mind of the shooter. What is it in our contemporary culture that has people senselessly killing others? Any prosecutor will tell you that the hardest cases to convict are those in which the perpetrator of a crime appears to have no obvious motive.
Keeping guns out of the hands of those with significant mental issues – red flag laws – is a good idea. But red flag laws require a careful balance between identifying a potential killer and demonizing innocent people. Under virtually all proposals and many state laws, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman, would be prevented from owning a gun since he spent serious time hospitalized for mental illness. How do you prevent red flag laws from being abused by angry spouses, friends, or fellow workers?
We are told that contributing issues for shooters are low self-esteem … lack of friends … loner … acting oddly … even threats. However, that can describe millions of people who do not – and would not – ever commit such heinous crimes.
So, how do you find and “flag” the one in a million who seeks to address personal issues by killing a bunch of helpless innocent children? And what is it – besides the gun – that makes so many people in America see the solution to their “problems” in killing others?
If we are to find the means to mitigate the American habit of mass killings, it will not come by focusing on the gun. It is only the instrument of a troubled mind. We need to concentrate on what it is in the American culture that produces this tragic national characteristic. The answer is in the minds of the shooters. Everything else is a distraction.
So, there ‘tis.