Monday, April 16, 2007

Today's Shooting and Gun Control

Would today's tragedy have been prevented or lessened if students and teachers were allowed to carry guns?

The right-wing blogs think so. And maybe they're right. Or maybe fifteen other students would have pulled guns and started mistaking each other for the first shooter and escalated the problem.

And maybe there would be a lot more suicides the 99.9999% of the time there is not a crazed gunman on campus. And more single and double homicides. And accidents.

Would today's tragedy have been prevented if guns were banned?

The left-wing blogs think so. And maybe they're right. Or maybe a war on guns would be as ineffective as the war on drugs, only less Constitutional. From some reports, at least one of the guns used today has already been banned.

Making policies based on exceptional circumstances is foolish.

There are about 400,000 crimes, more than 10,000 homicides, and more than 15,000 suicides committed with firearms every year in the United States. Almost none of them are school shootings in the manner of Virginia Tech or Columbine.

P
olicies must be targetted sensibly.

Our country seems particularly bad at this. We've banned knitting needles from planes but allow 16-year-olds to drive cars. Growing medical marijuana can land you in jail, but cigarettes are available at every 7-11.

How about we start basing some decisions on data? Focusing on mental health from a public policy perspective could probably save thousands of lives a year while debating the gun control issue will just waste a bunch of time and money. I can't tell you how many people I've known with clinical depression or anxiety that couldn't get (or at least thought they couldn't get) treatment because they didn't have sufficient insurance. How many veterans and ex-police officers are out there with untreated mental issues and the training to kill efficiently?

I don't know how we can get public debate to become more reasonable in the age of cable news and vacuous politics. I guess we can at least start with ourselves. Quit shouting slogans and start using reason. Stop focusing on anecdotes and start working with data.

14 comments:

Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Or maybe fifteen other students would have pulled guns and started mistaking each other for the first shooter and escalated the problem.


Escalated the problem? How can it get any worse than 1 person killing more that 30 people?

Jewish Atheist said...

There could have been a couple "friendly fire" killings, but you're right, it's unlikely things could've gotten much worse today.

asher said...

Are you trying to understand the motivations behind people who do these things? Can you give an answer as to why those upper middle class nutcases at Columbine High did what they did? I've yet to hear a coherent explanation

beepbeepitsme said...

I heard about the tradegy on the news this morning, so firstly let me extend my sympathies to the people of Blacksburg, Virginia and to all the families and students who are suffering as a result of this tradegy.

It is incomprehensible to me how this type of action occurs. I am also not convinved that every student totting a gun would be the answer.

I would fear that with everyone carrying a gun, that a "wild west mentality" would ensue.

Ezzie said...

I would fear that with everyone carrying a gun, that a "wild west mentality" would ensue.

Unlikely, seeing as how that's never happened in Israel, where a huge percentage of the people carry, particularly in certain areas.

I don't know how we can get public debate to become more reasonable in the age of cable news and vacuous politics. I guess we can at least start with ourselves. Quit shouting slogans and start using reason. Stop focusing on anecdotes and start working with data.

Agreed. That's why I really enjoyed that 'essence of liberalism' debate we had going (sorry, Pesach kind of killed that). :)

On a lot of subjects, there simply IS no data. That's why we use our logic, and logic in this situations seems to dictate that banning guns is shooting ourselves in the foot (not to mention pretty unconstitutional). What's a greater risk? A couple of students accidentally shooting one another instead of the gunman, or a gunman with a ton of bullets purposely shooting everyone in sight? I'm guessing the latter situation will generally result in more deaths.

Jewish Atheist said...

Ezzie,

I don't support banning guns, but you need to also take into account all the extra suicides and homicides you have with more guns around.

Ezzie said...

While guns may make some suicides easier, I'm guessing that many would manage to find a way if they are truly intent on taking their own lives. I'd also be curious as to how many of those, and especially homicides, are committed by using legally acquired handguns.

Ezzie said...

Sad irony: See my top post.

And I realize you called me right-wing in the post. What the heck!? Since when am I RW? I'm a registered Democrat! :)

Jewish Atheist said...

While guns may make some suicides easier, I'm guessing that many would manage to find a way if they are truly intent on taking their own lives.

I'm pretty sure that fewer people commit suicide when it's harder to do. Depressed people aren't known for having a lot of motivation and follow-through.

I'd also be curious as to how many of those, and especially homicides, are committed by using legally acquired handguns.

That's not precisely the right question. The question is how many of those are committed by guns which would not have been in circulation if guns were illegal. That would include guns that are stolen as well as guns that get into the system through loopholes or backdoors in the current legal system.

But, again, I don't support banning guns. I'm just trying to be reasonable.

Jewish Atheist said...

Since when am I RW? I'm a registered Democrat! :)

It's too bad we Dems don't have a way to excommunicate sinful members. ;-)

CyberKitten said...

Maybe its not a gun issue, maybe its a culture issue?

Don't Canadians have as many guns per capita as Americans - with a whole lot less homicides?

Are people prepared to 'put up with' with incidents like these periodically in order that they retain the freedom to carry or own deadly weapons?

Oh, and don't get me started on Bushes "loving and merciful God" quote.......

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Maybe its not a gun issue, maybe its a culture issue?

If the reports are true that the guy has been in America less than a year and is on a Visa, it's hard to believe he would have been culturalized by the US.

Second, if he is on a Visa he can't legally own a gun anyway.

beepbeepitsme said...

I'm with cyberkitten on this one. There seems to be a form of cultural gun worship in the US. (Yeah, worship might not be exactly the right word, but what the hey - )

In Australia we have a cultural mentality of worshipping sport. Therefore more people are whacked over the head with a cricket bat, than with any other implement. (Ok, I made that bit up.)

But there is more of a tendency towards guys physically fighting - as in bashing the shit out of each other as they do in many of our sports, rather than pulling a gun on each other. In fact, there would be many australian men who would consider the use of a gun to be a cowardly act.

This is not to say that we haven't had gun problems here as well, the event in Tasmania a decade or so ago was a terrible tradegy as well.