Gun control — is that the problem?

First off, I’m completely in favor of eliminating all non-military and non-police access (even that might be questionable) to guns unless they are built and intended for use in hunting game. Anything semi-automatic, automatic, hand-sized, or otherwise developed to kill people has no place in a civil society which is what we are aiming to create, right? Posession of any gun should only come with proper registry and training in its use. Period. Arguments for civilian self defense are rooted in propaganda spread by the gun lobby. I’m not deluded enough to think that this will keep all guns out of society, but it will reduce the number of available tools designed for the killing of humans and that’s fundamentally and indisputably a good thing.

With that out of the way I ask the question: “Is gun control going to prevent killings similar to what happened in Conneticut, Colorado, and Oregon in recent months?” No, or at least probably not. Expecting gun control to solve such problems is a little like making crack cocaine illegal and expecting addiction issues to go away. The operative substance in both cases is much more symptomatic of a larger problem than the cause of the problem. I suppose with guns it’s easy to identify the agent as a discreet unit and imagine making it go away. Declaire a war on guns! The real problem in many of these shootings is that of disaffected youth, often socially isolated, and almost certainly clinically mentally ill falling through the cracks of society and then acting out. The real problem is that the mental health of our citizens is poor and seems to be growing worse. Further, mental health problems are stigmatized enough that parents and friends of sufferers are afraid to address any problems, or don’t know how to identify or address the problem because of a lack of education.

In my idealized vision, the US wouldn’t have a gun control problem because such guns would already be illegal. There would still be shootings. A light .22 rifle would be no less capable in the hands of the wrong person. So, when an incident like this happens the ideal outcry would be for better care for our youth. There would be a movement to seek out why so many are seeking to act out in such extreme ways. There would be a searching for the underlying societal causes of that isolation. There would be fewer band-aids and political knee-jerk reactions (The guns! The guns!) and more humane approaches to improving the lot of our people. Most importantly is that the humanistic approach would address the millions of kids out there that are suffering, but aren’t ever going to reach the threshold of shooting up a school or theatre or mall. Without help, a percentage of these kids will grow up to lead unproductive lives, become homeless, become addicts, or otherwise suffer the consequences of living a life with untreated, poor mental health. This is an outcome that benefits no one. Taking guns away will do nothing for them and I would argue that more suffering comes from those millions of untrteated mentally ill than all of these shootings combined. They just get far less media attention.

The “Sea of violence” take

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