Gun Control, Mass Shootings and Mass Distraction

October 7, 2015

There appears to be an immediate discussion about gun control every time an unfortunate incident occurs. It seems such a discussion is based on dogma and entrenched in political beliefs rather than a rational discussion of what’s truly going on. Having considerable knowledge of firearms and regulation, it is frequently puzzling that many do little but discuss “guns” when a tragedy strikes, instead of the other more crucial factors:

  1. Mental health diagnosis/treatment & involvement
  2. Cultural dynamics;
  3. Education;
  4. Poverty;
  5. Crime;
  6. Socioeconomic factors;
  7. Parental involvement;
  8. Personal responsibility;
  9. Family structure;
  10. and a host of others.

In other words, if one believes in the principle of gun control, having such a discussion somewhere way down this list maybe worthy–but when it is put ahead of these other factors, it is truly problematic.  To say nothing of the fact that most people have no idea about gun laws or how firearms function (many don’t know the difference between a semi-automatic weapon and full automatic; single action versus double action; or what a so-called “Assault Weapon” really is or is not).  Many also mistakenly believe that it is easier to get a gun today than it was fifty years ago or think that you can go into a store today and buy a firearm without a background check. This of course is false, but they are nonetheless promulgated as fact.

In states such as California (and municipalities like Los Angeles), every major piece of gun control legislation you hear discussed today already exists…and has for decades. Universal background checks, one-gun a month, waiting periods, ban of high capacity magazines, ban on certain guns altogether (including what are commonly referred to as assault weapons). Yet, California has one mass shooting after another. Recall the Santa Barbara (Isla Vista) shooting last year by the disturbed student; the Santa Monica college mass shooting; the LAX airport shooting. All of these (and others) were in the the last three years.

There were virtually no gun restrictions fifty years ago and firearms could be purchased with little or no regulation. (Lee Harvey Oswald ordered a pistol and the rifle he shot President Kennedy with from a mail order catalog for a few dollars. No background checks, no waiting period, or anything of the sort). Virtually the same type of weapons we see today also existed fifty years ago (AK 47’s have existed since about 1947, thus the name). Yet prior to the 1960’s and 70’s there were virtually no mass shootings, nor the kind of individual shootings we see on a daily basis today. Shouldn’t the real question then be why? What is it about our culture, our upbringing, our health and our youth today that make such violence and murder so common place?  Often this question is buried and never addressed. Further laws are passed, and further frustration ensues when these laws don’t work…because, after all, the root of the problem is never addressed.