Guns Don’t Kill People – But Crazy People Who Buy Them Do

No, guns don’t kill people (at least not by themselves) – but disturbed people who can buy guns more easily than they can get help with their mental illness do.

guns don't kill people, crazy people doAnd while America’s gun lobbyists chant said familiar refrain, assault rifles and automatic firearms are a force multiplier for anyone who has an impulse to murder.

Something is wrong here. Very wrong.

We are 4th in the world for murders with firearms, behind South Africa, Colombia and Thailand. Germany, the closest European country to the U.S., has 2.8 percent as many murders. Mexico, a country we Americans like to look down our noses at as some kind of wild drug-gang infested, murderous hell-hole, has just 28% the gun violence rate that we do annually.

The majority of Americans have consistently been for such things as mandatory waiting periods, background checks and even psychiatric evaluations before a person may obtain a gun legally.

There has been a steady decline in support for stricter gun control, however, which, even as late as the early nineties, was around 70%. But by October 2010 Gallup found support for stricter laws nationally had fallen to just 44 percent. This can be attributed to a very strong, consistent public campaign and congressional lobbying efforts by pro-gun groups, mostly the NRA.

The constant refrain from the pro-gun lobby and its adherents is that the world is a dangerous place, and it’s best to be armed for defense. Bad guys find it harder to commit crimes, so the theory goes, when people are armed. And of course, heroes can be ready to defend against these crazies in incidents like the theater shooting. For all these reasons, they say, gun ownership should not be restricted.

But there are a lot of holes in their arguments. For example: Had there been another citizen carrying a gun at this theater, perhaps he could have successfully incapacitated the murderer. But with the hi-tech weaponry this guy had (and I don’t want to do the bastard the honor of repeating his name), and the bullet-proof armor he was wearing, he would most likely have succeeded in killing and injuring nearly as many as he did anyway.

I think most sane people would agree that it should at least be harder to buy a gun than to get a driver’s license. Automobiles can kill people too, but killing is not their primary purpose, yet a driver’s license can be harder to obtain.

Last, but not least, there needs to be free and easy access to counseling and help with mental illness. Pre-Reagan, this was the case. Now, lost souls without the financial wherewithal to seek help (most of them) or families to help them are left to their own devices. And too often, those devices include guns, and demented fantasies of glory that lead them to seek “fame” by staging massacres.

Most people know we need changes. And yet, with a heavy sigh, they say, “It’s just the way it is,” what with our representatives so meek in the face of retribution from a powerful NRA, should they seek gun control.

But with enough popular support, even the NRA can be defeated. Don’t be so ready to concede this battle. It is a battle that must be fought, not with guns, but with a citizen lobbying effort strong enough to convince our legislators that we have their back.

James Israel
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