Monday, February 11, 2008

Preventing Gun Tragedies

How many more shootings before we realize we have a problem?

Mentally ill/deranged people are getting a hold of guns. The recent shooting at a city hall is a good example, and there are dozens of others.

They are using these weapons in vengeance - to kill fellow students, teachers, professors, co-workers or random people. Their crimes are senseless and shocking.

I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I'm certain this is not what the founding fathers intended with the second amendment.

I'm not suggesting that we take away the guns. I admit I agree with the philosophy, guns don't kill people, people kill people.

But this is ridiculous.

At some point, as a society, we've got to face facts. The current system is not working. With the freedom we give everyone (hunters, enthusiasts) to get guns, we are selling those weapons to a few disturbed people who use them for murder.

It's time for national conversation about guns and threats of violence.

I don't think we should make gun ownership illegal - or somehow force the guns underground.

I do think we should study other countries' laws. Most western countries restrict use or have strict laws about gun ownership. How much of this crime do they see? And the cop-out that our countries are different isn't always valid (yes, they are different but maybe we can learn from them). We need to revisit our laws (even the second amendment) surrounding threats of violence and the mentally ill.

Not sure if cranberry blog readers were aware, but there are certain threats that automatically trigger an investigation by various government entities. Even as a "joke" - they trigger an investigation. In college, on our old unix/pine/pico system, someone pretended to be another student (by hacking into the system) and emailed a joke threat. Even on our small midwestern campus, government representatives from this particular agency showed up. It's like saying "bomb" in an airport. You just can't say that unless you want to be investigated.

I say, if an adult starts making certain violent threats against another adult or group of adults - let's have them automatically investigated/evaluated. Maybe 99.9% would be false leads. Are we willing as a culture to spend that kind of time and money? I think the lives saved would be worth it.

What about strengthening the laws to allow people to be committed to a mental institution? What about paying for that kind of intensive therapy if someone makes credible threats? What about protecting whistleblowers/family members or friends who can report threats that are made? I don't know the current laws - but obviously they're not strong enough. Afterwards, people seem to be aware that the people who went on sprees had lots of problems.

What can we do to help them/protect us? What about a longer waiting period for guns?

Whenever registering guns is suggested, people usually bring up that guns were registered in Nazi Germany. Well - it seems to me that if by registering weapons we can save just one life, it would be worth it. If we added technology to only allow one person to use a gun - it would be worth it. Yes, Nazi Germany was full of horrors. They did many evil things that can't even be listed in this blog or anywhere.

But that taint/stigma shouldn't stop a national conversation about gun violence. And if registering guns is a possible solution, we should look into it.

We can keep our liberty, but also protect our families. The chances of most people being involved in such shootings are very rare. A little like the flammable toddler pajamas - you are more likely to die in a car accident. But they happen. And they seem to be happening more often. These deadly shootings will continue to happen unless we start a conversation about it and change how we handle this issue.


C. L. Hanson said...

Even if gun control is desirable, it would be extremely difficult to implement at this point. There are just too many guns already in circulation, and a typical gun-owner would not surrender them willingly. It might be a good halfway measure to at least require gun safety lessons (in school) including accurate information about how owning a firearm affects the chances that you or a family member will get shot. This plan wouldn't protect you from being shot by a paranoid schizophrenic, but it might decrease the probablity of getting shot by a kid whose parents didn't know better than to leave a gun lying around the house...

Aerin said...

Thanks chanson. It's true, there are a lot of guns lying around. It would be nice if there were some sort of "turn in your gun for cash" program here in the states (like we did/do in Iraq/Afganistan).

I agree with your points - I don't know why gun safety isn't taught in school. I certainly learned a ton of safety type information in driver's ed - and automobiles are incredibly dangerous in their own right.