On Complacency: The 355th Mass Shooting in 2015
[I originally wrote this as a comment to some anti-gun control friends on Facebook, as a reaction to a pro-gun control post I’d made. I put a decent amount of time into it, so thought I’d reproduce it here.]
“Complacency is nothing but an an awesome trigger of mediocrity and failure.” — Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
Thanks for your replies, friends. I’m glad we can discuss this kind of thing on here. I feel that, at the very least, gun violence needs reasonable discussion to find a resolution. This comment of mine got long, but I’d really appreciate if you could read and respond to it. I genuinely want to hear all sides of the argument — we HAVE to do something about this at this point, and we should be considering any and all options.
Unfortunately for the mental illness argument, a wide consensus within the mental health research community agrees that “only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness” (citation here: http://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/).
While I *completely* agree that we should pay more attention to mental health here in the US, and boost funding for people who need it, it won’t solve the gun violence issue. Using the high bound on that statistic, even if we curb *all* violent crime by the mentally ill, assuming that the mentally ill commit 5% of the crime in our country, we’d still have had 338 mass shootings occur this year — down from the 355 we’re actually seeing now. 338 is STILL far more than I’d like to see, personally.
A great number of studies have shown that more guns result in greater rates of gun violence (some of them here: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/.../firearms.../guns-and-death/). This is the best science we know, across the board from reputable research: that more guns result in more gun violence. It’s *FACT* at this point. It’s fact, like germ theory is fact, like thermodynamics is fact. More guns result in more crime. It’s a moral choice now: do we care more about our guns or our gun violence?
(And if you don’t think we should be treating gun control efficacy as fact: please, please, direct me to reputable research that says the same. “More Guns, Less Crime” doesn’t count because it’s been discredited by several independent studies.)
The “more guns more crime” argument holds true whether you’re looking at homes (homes with guns tend to have more accidental gun deaths, or maybe someone gets *really* mad, and reaches for a gun instead of say, a knife, or punching, or something else); it’s true for cities and states, and whole countries too. *Across the board*, fewer guns result in fewer gun deaths. This has been studied many times over, and it’s worked *incredibly well* in Australia, Canada, the UK, and Japan (citation: http://www.businessinsider.com/canada-australia-japan... ).
Sure, we can argue that all those countries are different from the US, but all those countries are *different from each other* too. The US isn’t such a special snowflake after all. I’m curious, friend — you say that “in order to say this type of control [like they have in Australia] would work here, the US would have to change many other fundamentals.” If we’re going to resolve this in the US (which we should) then we should understand, “different in what ways”? What’s so different between us and Australia pre-strict gun laws? The *only* argument I’ve heard put forth is that we have a lot of guns in circulation in the US, and couldn’t possibly get all of them off the street. And yet Australia conducted a rigorous gun buyback of more than 600,00 guns (around 1/5 of all guns in circulation in the country), and, along with other legislation, gun deaths plummeted by 59 percent over the following 11 years. That’s HUGE — that’s way more than we could achieve by *only* addressing mental health (citation: http://www.slate.com/.../gun_control_after_connecticut... ).
So, friends, I’d really like to know: if gun control isn’t the answer, then what is? According to our best knowledge, even ELIMINATING mental illness in the US would reduce violent crime by 5%, at best, which isn’t much (that would be 338 mass shooting this year, which is far too many). The best science we have to date says that fewer guns = less gun violence, whether you’re looking at homes, cities, states, or nations.
So: we have to do something. 1.05 mass shootings per day isn’t sustainable; it’s insane. What do we do? What ideas do we have to try anymore? What harm is there in *trying* more gun control — if it’s a disaster, then we repeal? It’s worked in *every other country in which it has been tried thus far* — why shouldn’t it work here? I’d love an answer to this so I can stop fretting over it.