Lax gun laws did not cause Wade Michael Page to fly off the handle and go on a killing spree at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI.
His hatred and bigotous outrage did.
The tragedy of this unspeakable act cannot be understated, but it seems reckless to throw wild claims about gun laws in its wake.
In plain terms I’ll ask, “What else can we do?”
Earlier this week, I argued about the nonsensical arguments being made by the left about gun laws.
Men like Page and James Holmes, the shooter in Aurora, bought their guns legally and never tripped any governmental wires in the process.
Short of banning hand guns and assault rifles, what more can we really do to stop violent crime like this?
Before that question is addressed, let me remind you that violent crime in the United States is actually at a 50 year low.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 did turn the trend of violence in America downward, but the trend has continued even after the sunset provision ended nearly 8 years ago.
In England, where handguns were banned nearly 20 years ago, violence has steeply increased. In fact, that article in the Daily Mail cited gun crimes as increasing 89% from 2008 to 2009.
You’re now actually more likely to be a victim of crime in England than you are in the U.S., and the murder rates have grown closer over the last decade and a half.
A USA Today article in 2002 cited the failures of Austalian gun bans as well saying:
Since Australia’s 1996 laws banning most guns and making it a crime to use a gun defensively, armed robberies rose by 51%, unarmed robberies by 37%, assaults by 24% and kidnappings by 43%. While murders fell by 3%, manslaughter rose by 16%.
– USA Today ‘Gun laws don’t reduce crime’
Countries with low gun ownership like Switzerland and France actually have higher rates of gun violence than the United States (See the table at the bottom of the link).
Gun violence in the United States has a sorted past. We know about Fast and Furious and we see the gang violence all over the country, particularly the kind of year Chicago has had with what seems like an a tidal wave of homicides. It’s worth pointing out, Cook County has a restrictive gun ban that has done literally nothing to quell the rising tide of gang-related gun violence.
Just saying we have a lower rate of gun violence than other countries is clearly insufficient. Furthermore, just because gun bans haven’t worked in other countries doesn’t mean we can’t take additional steps to make our country safer.
Unfortunately, too many district attorneys are not prosecuting felons who shouldn’t have guns but do, and courts have been lenient on too many of these cases.
It should not be the goal of anyone to prevent law-abiding citizens from purchasing guns. There are untenable arguments about limiting ammunition (specious claims given that the Sikh Temple shootings were carried out with a fully legal handgun and Page reportedly was taking down people with a single shot or two).
As an important aside, how many crimes do you hear committed by the armed-to-the-teeth quazi-militia groups in the south?
What is the solution? The reality is, you can’t prevent wingnuts from going nutty. It’s an unfortunate reality. People who do own guns legally absolutely must be responsible with them because most crimes committed with guns use illegal guns.
Many of those guns were stolen from people who purchased them lawfully, but couldn’t be bothered to properly secure them.
But it seems impractical to attempt to impose a penalty on someone if their gun, having been stolen from them, is then used in a crime, and its determined that person didn’t take proper care to lock or otherwise secure that gun.
Dealing with problems like poverty and education are much more likely to bring down violence as few people turn to crime as a way to deal with their lives.
It’s easier now to hear about these senseless shootings, and national media coverage makes them seem more frequent than they truly are.
The numbers, in terms of violent crimes, speak for themselves. In reality, we are safer now than our parents were growing up and yet we have more guns in the hands of our citizens than at any time in history.
Fix the real problems, rather than trying to find nonsensical arguments aimed at creating an impossible utopia.