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Gun Control Laws Don’t Work

Posted by cann0nba11 on December 16, 2012

The Newtown school massacre is obviously a horrible tragedy. The death of a child causes so much pain, from sadness to rage and everything in between. A musical acquaintance and fellow Bloomfield High School graduate was caught up in this disaster; his six year old daughter Ana was one of those killed. His family moved to Newtown this past summer and it was their first year in this school for both of his kids. My heartfelt prayers go out to his family and to everyone else affected by this tragedy.

As I peruse the many comments and posts lining my Facebook wall I see the full spectrum of emotions. There are two obvious camps, those that want to do everything they can to remove guns from our society, and those that believe that people, not guns, are not the problem. I fall in the latter category.

We will learn more about Adam Lanza. What we know so far is that he was 20 years old, lived with his mother who was divorced. We know that he has not spoken to his 24 year old brother or his father since 2010. We know that he was considered a challenge to raise, an odd “Goth” kid and described by some as very smart. We know that he had problems in school that led his mother to pull him out and give homeschooling a try. We know that he played violent first-person shooter video games. And we know that he planned for this event because he had a protective vest, he killed his mother at home in her bed after stealing her guns, and he destroyed his computer hard drive before going to the school. And as more people are interviewed we are beginning to learn that he had serious mental issues.

“It was almost painful to have a conversation with him, because he felt so uncomfortable,” said Olivia DeVivo, who sat behind him in English. “I spent so much time in my English class wondering what he was thinking.”

“He didn’t have any friends, but he was a nice kid if you got to know him,” said Kyle Kromberg, now studying business administration at Endicott College in Massachusetts. He studied Latin with Lanza.”He didn’t fit in with the other kids,” he said. “He was very, very shy. He wouldn’t look you in the eyes when he talked. He didn’t really want to lock eyes with you for very long.”He was also a technical whizz kid, keen on computers and video games, and part of a group who would meet up for computer programming get-togethers.

“My brother has always been a nerd,” Ryan said, according to Gloria Milas, whose son was a club member along with Adam Lanza.Adam Lanza had few friends and, as a child, went to great trouble not to mix with his fellow students at his state school.

A Newtown resident also suggested he was home-schooled for some time.”I always saw him walking alone, sitting on his own at a table or on the bus. Most of the time I saw him he was alone,” said Alex Israel, who was at school with him as a young girl.”He was really quiet. A little fidgety, uneasy. I think socially he was just going out (into the world) and not making friends with everyone.

“Her mother Beth Israel, who lived nearby, said: “I know he had issues. He was a really troubled kid … a very quiet kid, a shy kid, maybe socially awkward.” He was not on Facebook, unusual (sic) for any Westerner of his generation, and did not appear in his 2010 High School Yearbook. Instead were written the words: “Camera shy”. (source)

But the immediate reaction in social media was to blame guns, to instantly politicize this, to post death threats to NRA members, to call for stricter gun laws and to exploit this tragedy for political gain. Many people are ignoring the mental health aspect. And even more are ignoring how to better prepare our society for this in the future.

We have crossed a line in America where violence is no longer a rare event. It should be expected. Why? Decades of declining moral values, increasing violence in movies, television, music and video games, the increasing removal of religion, and the crumbling family unit.

So, what do we do? Most knee-jerkers are screaming for the president to get tougher with new laws. But doing this will just restrict good people while evil/sick people ignore the laws and carry out their twisted plans. America needs to become more proficient with regard to personal defense, it does not need to battle increasing regulations and restrictions of our liberties.

Surely there will be plenty of articles, blog posts and Facebook infographics touting positions on both sides of this. Sadly, scientific thought is usually not part of these discussions and the concepts of correlation and causation are virtually ignored. But damn it, people need to think, not emote. Emotion is the enemy of critical thought and we need more people thinking, not reacting.

If anti-gun logic were to hold true, in a list of state rankings for firearms murders you would expect to see the weakest states at the top, and you would certainly not expect to see the toughest states anywhere in the rankings, right?

Wrong.

Consider the following chart I created based on 2011 Brady Campaign state rankings and 2011 FBI crime data.

FirearmsCrime2011

States highlighted in yellow rank in the top 15 strictest gum law states according to the Brady Campaign.  States highlighted in green are at the very bottom of the list, they are the bottom fifteen states, a.k.a. the “weakest” states when it comes to gun control laws. In other words, yellow equates to the top third of the nation in gun control efforts (“safe” states for liberal logicians), green states are in the bottom third.

So what do we see in this chart? Three of the “safe” gun control states are in the top ten for firearms murders. Only two from the lowest “safety” rankings make the list. “Safe” states are also higher in the firearms assaults list. The two categories are basically tied in the firearms robbery list. But this article was inspired by a horrible murder, not assaults or robberies, so let’s stay on point.

Interestingly enough, The District of Columbia is not actually on the Brady list, despite having by far the most rigid gun laws in the nation, even more so than California. I’ve included it to further reiterate my point that gun control laws do not work.

There are no gun control laws that could have prevented the massacre in Newtown. The late Mrs. Lanza may have made a horrible mistake if she did not have her guns properly locked away. But we don’t know this, and given that her son lived with her he may have known how to unlock and gain access to them. But even if he couldn’t get to them he could easily have acquired weapons elsewhere, or could have taken a different approach to carry out his plan, such as explosives, fire, poison, etc.

Prohibition didn’t work. It created a black market for criminals. Drug laws and the drug war have proven to be woefully ineffective, resulting in rampant violence and overpopulated prisons. And as seen by the raw data displayed above, there is no correlation to gun laws and crime.

What do we do? We step back and look at the bigger picture. For decades our society has repeatedly lowered the bar on what is acceptable to do or watch. Long ago Elvis Presley was considered dangerous because of his hips. Before that it was considered wrong for a woman to show off a little ankle. But those standards faded away, and we can laugh about them. But look at what we see on television today, or in music videos or movies or video games. Intense, extremely detailed and realistic violence. How many versions of C.S.I <insert city here> do we really need? Do we really need to see open chest cavities, autopsies, murder reenactments, etc.? Yes, older shows and movies had violence: Wiley Coyote got crushed by an anvil, Charlie’s Angels shot guns, and shows like S.W.A.T., Shaft, Hill Street Blues, and myriad others portrayed violence. But have you ever gone back and watched old reruns of shows like these? They are laughable from a violence perspective compared to today. Remember, Alfred Hitchcock terrified us without ever showing gore. And once upon a time rating systems were put in place as an attempt to control access, which brings me to my next point.

Parents. How many parents leave their kids alone on the computer for hours upon hours, unmonitored? How many parents let their young kids play games rated T for Teen, or M for Mature? How many parents take young kids to see rated R movies? Far too many, because parenting is hard and it is easier to cave in than it is to do the right thing. I’m not saying that violent games are a singular cause for violence. But I am saying that as we add all of the negative and violent stimuli up we see a strong negative influence on our youth.

The family unit is a thing of the past for too many of us. Divorce is not only accepted, but it is rampant. Pregnancy is perceived as a burden, not a blessing. Discipline becomes more difficult for parents because of politically correct laws usually written by people that don’t have children.

We also have the issue of mental illness. We will learn about Adam Lanza’s problems and perhaps we will discover signs that were ignored. We will also learn that America is truly lacking when it comes to resources for parents with troubled children. Maybe if politicians cared more about their constituents than about their image and legacies, perhaps we would be in a better place. And maybe if parents and children put their phones down and spent more time together we would strengthen personal relationships instead of creating silos and isolation for people in need.

I pray for everyone affected by this tragedy.

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