USA's gun problem isn't a gun control problem

by Gene Michael Stover

created Friday, 2012-12-21 T 18:52:18Z
updated Friday, 2012-12-28 T 16:57:15Z


Here's some context in case you are reading this at a great temporal distance from when I wrote it.

  1. On 2012-12-14, Adam Lanza murdered 26 people. One of them was his mother. The others were students or employees at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut, USA.
    1. I believe the event qualifies as a spree killing.
    2. Time Line of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings
    3. "Adam Lanza Identified as Connecticut Elementary School Shooter". Fox News Latino. 2012-12-14.
    4. "Breaking: Adam Lanza had `wild argument' with four teachers at school a day before". 2012-12-15.
    5. "Newtown shooting victims named; Police have `very good evidence' regarding Adam Lanza’s motives". Associated Press. 2012-12-15.
  2. As a consequence, there's a lot of talk about gun regulation.
    1. "Where Did Gun Control Go?". Whet Moser. 2012-12-17.
    2. "The shootout in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a lone gunman killed 27 people, including 20 children, in an elementary school explains a broader tragedy". Vijay Prashad. 2012-12-29.
    3. "President Obama calls for gun regulation". Dara Kam. 2012-12-19.
    4. "NRA to oppose any new gun regulations". Kevin Freking and Adam Goldman. 2012-12-24.

My thoughts

The rationale for more restricted access to guns is that it'll lower the rate at which spree murders occurs. Evidence is that countries which have similar restrictions also have lower rates of gun violence.

It's true that England has both more restricted gun access & a lower rate of murders with guns. In fact, their rate of murders with guns is about a tenth that of the United States. One of the things I enjoy about England when I'm there is that the cops don't carry guns; it serves as a reminder that they are there to help.

However, more restricted access to guns is like treating a symptom rather than the disease which causes it. Is it possible that the social attitudes towards guns, violence, & safety in those other countries is more mature than that of the United States? Were those societies able to restrict access to guns because they first achieved mature attitudes about guns & safety? If so, is the United States trying to achieve a goal of infrequent gun violence without laying the foundation of more mature attitudes towards guns & safety?