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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Response to Fareed Zakaria on Gun Laws

Since about 46% of suicides are by gun (not by semi-automatic assault weapons) I figure that a lot of people want a gun with which to kill themselves. The assault weapon controversy is a red herring. The vast majority of firearm deaths and injuries are by the hand gun. Let's keep the two issues separate. We all get wrapped around the axle when a mass shooting occurs while letting the thousands of handgun incidents fade into the background. It's like getting angry about airline crashes that kill hundreds at a time while ignoring the 30,000 or so annual automobile deaths and the 2 million annual critical injuries. We are all having our attention diverted by conflating the two issues. Then Fareed, in his article, adds the psychological status of the shooters and future shooters. We continue to ignore psychiatric treatment for people who need help before they act. So often we know who the potential shooters are but opt to do nothing. Fund the mental health care and work to solve the issues that give rise to the desires in people to shoot others.

I don't support millions of people having guns at the ready in order to be "effective" in their road rage, settling a disagreement with a neighbor, scaring a spouse, or walking the neighborhood watch beat. The laws we do have don't work and none of the proposed laws have much promise since there are already 90 million or so guns in circulation already. It doesn't take 90mn handguns to stop the 1 or 2 mass shooters per year that we have.

It is like the War on drugs. As long as people want to take drugs all the laws and punishment will not stop it. We need to focus on the causes of violent behavior and let the fearful have their guns. Soon they will put them away.