Yet another mass shooting (this one at a community college on Oregon) prompts yet again calls for stricter gun control laws. That’s the “usual response”, and it is wrong. Here’s why….
If stricter gun control laws were actually successful at reducing violence, then Chicago and Washington DC would be the safest cities in America in which to live, precisely because they have the strictest gun control laws. They are actually the most violent cities in America by the statistics, and by far.
So, clearly, this approach is wrong, it does not work. QED. Get over it!
Look a bit deeper than the customary knee-jerk reaction, for something that might actually work, and try that instead! To keep trying something again and again, that does not bring about what you want, is a pretty good operational definition of insanity. Just how insane are you, my neighbors?
This means that you look for what might actually be causing the problem, and do something about that, instead. You will not find it by listening to knee jerk reactions and political sound bites.
You might try history instead, but you’ll have to be read between the lines to find any truth in history. It’s written only by the winners/survivors.
If you look at mass shooting incidents over the last several years, there are really only two common threads. And that’s a good place to start. (1) With one exception, every one of these incidents is an example of people known to have mental problems getting guns legally. (2) Without exception, every single one of these was a gun-free zone that was not adequately defended.
The exception to (1) was the Newtown school incident, where the perpetrator obtained his guns illegally. He killed his mother, so he could get access to her guns, otherwise locked up beyond his reach. That right there ought to tell you something!
Current laws are based on a federal standard that is essentially an “on-off switch” with too high a bar. To be prevented from obtaining guns, a crazy person must be judged crazy by a judge in a court of law. Otherwise, he may buy the gun legally, and the seller has no grounds not to sell it to him. Period.
That’s demonstrably the wrong standard. It was written that way to make things easy and convenient for lawyers and judges. Yet it quite demonstrably kills people. The people who sold “xxx” the gun with which he shot congresswoman Gabby Giffords were uncomfortable selling him a gun, but they had no choice. That is a matter of public record.
It is simply outside my expertise to give you practical details, but I do suggest a staged, multi-step approach to this. If a seller is uncomfortable, that should spark a deeper investigation by local law enforcement than just a review of existing paperwork on file. Family, friends, and colleagues should be questioned about just how well we can trust “xxx” to behave responsibly with his weapons.
As for item (2) defense of a gun free zone, we have the example of the 19th century American frontier. There are perfectly-good reasons to establish gun-free zones, well-known since long before that time. It actually works quite well to reduce violence, if done correctly. Not done correctly, this approach demonstrably does not work.
There are two items, completely forgotten today, that are required to do a gun-free zone correctly. (1) An easy way to comply by checking your weapons with local law enforcement when you enter the gun-free zone, with easy retrieval when you leave. (2) Timely defense of the gun-free zone (extremely crucial). Of the two, (2) is more important, but both are actually crucial to success.
The history of the 19th century American frontier confirms this assessment, if and only if you look very closely at it.
Today, we completely ignore item (1), and force people who are armed to leave their guns at home, or (more damaging to us all), in their cars. Guns left in cars are targets for criminals who steal them and use them to commit violent crimes. Period. End of issue. Not to mention terrorists.
We have known this since the 19th century. That’s why back then, you checked your guns with the local sheriff/town marshal/constable (pick a name) when you entered town. You knew they would be safe in his custody. And you knew you could drop by his office and pick them up easily when you left town. This stopped a huge proportion of the drunken-cowboy gunfights in saloons.
Item (2) is more arguable today. Back then, a town was a physically-small thing around 2, or at most 3, modern city blocks in dimension. An armed deputy could arrive anywhere in town within about 60 seconds, at a dog trot.
This standard of response time actually worked quite well. It did not prevent every problem, but it did prevent the vast majority of them. That’s the real truth of our history.
There’s absolutely nothing in any of the accounts to suggest that anything is any different today. In point of fact, the longer the response time, the worse the typical outcome. 5 minutes is too long. 20+ minutes is way too long. Period.
Now, the mistake made at every mass shooting site in the last several years is not defending the gun-free zone adequately (essentially a 60-second response).
In Oregon, they not only declined to have an armed officer on site, they declined to have an unarmed officer on site (all this is a matter of public record). Just how stupid is that?
So, what do you defend your gun-free zone with? I suggest that only folks with actual peace officer training qualify. You are quite literally counting on whoever might be armed to do a peace officer’s job.
The holder of a concealed-carry permit might be trained in what he can and cannot do with his firearm, but HE HAS NOT BEEN TRAINED TO BE A PEACE OFFICER. There’s quite a difference.
What that says is that Donald Trump is wrong when he says the faculty should have been armed at the community college in Oregon. It takes a real peace officer to defend a gun-free zone, just like it did in the 19th century American frontier.