cartoon gun pistol shooting

Gun Control: You Can’t Test Irresponsibility

When people are careless or irresponsible, no amount of laws, ordinances, and guidance can help keep things like this from happening.

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cartoon gun pistol shooting

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Before I start this piece, I would like to take a moment of silence, or space I guess, just to send my condolences to anyone affected by the shootings at the Newtown, CT, school. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children is a phrase used when a teenager dies in a car accident, but they really shouldn’t have to bury a five-year-old after something like this. Its just really tragic.

To debate gun control, their legality, and other gun-related issues simply takes away from the bigger picture here, 27 people are dead, including 20 children. No amount of senseless debate will take away from that.  Needless to say, people will debate this point and people will crave to be educated at a time when so little is known about many details involving this situation.

Around the nation this morning, millions of people watching the tragic events of Newtown, Conn. will begin to clamor loudly for heightened gun control laws.  “If there were better gun control laws, this would never happen,” is the one statement many, including my own friends will make. However, in no way, shape, or form would gun control laws have helped prevent this tragedy that took 26 innocent lives including 20 children.

The two states really involved in this, Connecticut and New Jersey (where the shooter’s brother lives), are listed as the 5th and 2nd highest. According to The Star-Ledger, Connecticut law has a partial ban on assault rifles and people under 21 are prohibited from purchasing and/or carrying handguns. The shooter, Adam Lanza, was 20.

Time and time again, people will continue to get their hands on whatever item they want if they so choose. Think about it, alcohol was illegal in the 1930 during prohibition yet it became one of the most crime ridden times in recent history. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug-related deaths have more than doubled since the early 80s, even with stricter drug abuse penalties.

“But if they just outlawed guns and had stricter laws, this could have been prevented.”

False.

In 1996, as a direct result of the Dunblane school massacre, the United Kingdom banned the private ownership of handguns in the kingdom with two separate acts simply called “Firearms Act 1997 1 & 2.”  However, despite those heavily enforced laws, the UK still has problems with school shootings. In June 2010, Derrick Bird, a lone gunman, killed 12 people and injured 11 others during a killing spree across Cumbria, England.

Did these extremely strict gun laws, which were put into place 13 years before the incident, help stop the violence?  The answer to that question is no. You can have all the gun control you want, but people will find a way to get the items they need to commit heinous acts such as these.

I’ll speak for New Jersey (as I am a resident) and their gun control programs, listed as 2nd best in the country. In the Garden State, a rigorous six-month process is needed just to obtain a firearm purchase id. This background check occurs several times between state and local authorities, including a full criminal background. Even after getting the card, purchasing a weapon can take several weeks.

That explanation doesn’t even include special handgun purchase IDs, permit to carry and permit to conceal applications, which in total could take over a full year.  With all the hurdles of current gun control there is one statement that rings true.  You can’t test crazy or irresponsibility.

Admittedly, I’ve been shooting under the guidance of my father since I was seven years old. I’ve been through several NRA and Boy Scout programs that encourage safety and take many precautions. When taught right, target shooting (which I partake) is one of the safest activities.  In my home, bullets and guns are never in the same place, guns are checked constantly for chambered rounds or loaded clips. These safety precautions are necessary in order to instill that no one is injured.

Just search “gun accidents” on YouTube and you’ll find a lengthy variety of gun accidents from people that aren’t being responsible. Holding a pistol one handed is going to hurt. Attempting to hold a rifle with one hand is just plain stupid.  There’s no way to test for this sort of irresponsibility and carelessness.

Think about it from another point. Anyone with a driver’s license has gone through hours upon hours of driver safety and testing, yet, you still see people drive drunk and drivers speeding by on the highway at 110 miles per hour. Hell, we’ve all rolled through a stop sign at some point.

The main point is simply this: when people are careless or irresponsible, no amount of laws, ordinances, and guidance can help keep things like this from happening.

Regardless of your stance, 27 people have been taken from this Earth in what has become one of the biggest shooting massacres in U.S. history. No amount of debate will bring back those lives.

Prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy. May they rest in peace.

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Photo Credit: Andorand

10 thoughts on “Gun Control: You Can’t Test Irresponsibility”

  1. Despite a shooting in 2010, I believe the UKs overall shooting incidents decreased by 50% since the ban.
    If true, that seems compelling evidence to contray of your “false” dichotomy.

  2. “the UK still has problems with school shootings” – Nothing on the scale of the US, and as Planner stated, spree shootings have nose-dived. You are deliberately falsely portraying the situations to try and avoid the iron-cast fact that stricter gun laws = less spree shootings.

    “people will find a way” – Maybe, but hell, if they might find a way we may as well make it easy for them and GIVE them the weapons whenever they consider it. That is the argument you just made.

  3. Amazingly, murder, rape and burglary are illegal and yet … they still happen, too! That doesn’t mean we don’t chuck all of our laws against them, throw up our hands and say “laws don’t work.”

    America is a nation of laws for a reason. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired on September 13, 2004. Since then, 5 of the country’s top 10 deadliest mass shootings have occurred (via CNN). In fact, since Obama was elected gun sales spiked — and 4 of those deadliest mass shootings all happened after his election. These figures are just for the deadliest gun massacres — every year there “smaller” gun events that get little if any national attention.

    Gun laws have been rolled back all across the country thanks to the gun lobby. To not connect the dots between the tremendous number of guns out there and the escalation of gun violence and gun accidents is to be drinking some powerful Kool-Aid.

  4. Laws and restrictions might not have the power to control all firearm incidents, however a ban on guns can make an impact on the daily use of firearms in anything from petty crime to gang war.

    These isolated incidents are tragic, but should not be used as an argument for or against restrictions on guns. The larger picture is the daily use and the sheer volume of intended and accidental deaths as a result of the ‘freedom’ regarding gun ownership.

  5. I think this is truly one of the worst articles i’ve read on the risky shift.

    To compare the prohibition of alcohol to that of guns is just ridiculous. Perhaps being British I just don’t have a true grasp of the importance of firearms in US society and this perhaps discredits my views slightly in this particular debate.

    However, the fact you you draw comparison to the UK, sighting the example of Derrick Bird is again, ridiculous. How many times have we seen these events unfold in the US in comparison to the UK. It isn’t a question of eradicating it, as like previous comments have suggested, having laws doesn’t completely eradicate crimes, it helps prevent them. With this particular crime we would hope that it didn’t ever happen at all, yet if it did we would hope it would be limited to perhaps one rare occasion. What’s happening in the US is a regular occurrence.

    Civilians own semi-automatic weapons and lots of them as well. Its just ridiculous. Your made to believe you need them for self protection, second amendment and all that. Its time the people woke up, stood up and pressured for an end to this ridiculous situation that leads to such destruction.

  6. Sorry you are wrong regarding the UK laws failing to reduce gun crime.

    In 1987 a man called Michael Ryan killed 16 people in the town of Hungerford (about 10 miles from me) using an AK-47 clone and an M1 self-loading carbine, as well as an automatic pistol. After Hungerford, self-loading rifles, automatic pistols and shotguns capable of holding more than three rounds at once were banned.

    After Dunblane handguns were effectively banned (technically sports shooting pistols can be owned, but must be stored at a gun club). The only weapons allowed to be owned privately are the so-called Long Arms, long barrelled shotguns and .22 rifles.

    Derek Bird used a shotgun and a .22 rifle during the Cumbria massacre. Both were legal, and he had a permit.

    Alex Lanza would not have been able to have gotten a permit for a long arm in the UK. His Mother may have been awarded a permit, but the weapon would have had to have been secured in a locked gun cabinet that is fixed to the house. These are inspected periodically by the Police and the permit (and weapons) removed if they are not satisfied.

    To say that the restriction on gun ownership after Dunblane did nothing to prevent the Cumbrian massacre is ignorant of the facts.

    Fact 1: Cumbria was the first mass-shooting incident after Dunblane – a gap of 14 years. In the US THIS YEAR there have been 12 mass-shootings (more than four fatalities)

    Fact 2: The UK firearm statistics include Airguns. Of the 11, 227 offences recorded during 2010-2011, over 4,000 offences were committed by air guns. There were only 60 homicides, a figure that includes homicide attempts. Yesterday in the US, 158 people were killed by guns.

    More than double our annual figure. In. A. Day. I know we’re about 1/5th the size by population, but still…

    Despite these two facts, we in the UK are in the grip of a gun epidemic by our standards. In the cities the number of shootings has risen – proving that bad people can still get their hands on weapons.

    However it is estimated that less than 3% of all gun crime results in a death or serious injury. The vast majority of guns used in crime are either airguns, sawn off shotguns or illegal handguns. Possession of either will result in a jail term.

    Whatever happened in Alex Lanza’s head will forever remain a mystery. The tragedy that unfolded in Newtown, CT was exacerbated by that young man, possibly mentally unstable and undiagnosed, being able to get access to semi-automatic weapons, to be able to get ammunition for those weapons, to load and cock those weapons, to travel across a city and enter a school with those weapons, and to perpetrate such carnage. If his mother had not had such weapons in the house, or if they had been well secured, or if the ammunition had been stored out of the house, would he have been able to have murdered so many people?

    Gun control will not stop the gangs, or the robbers, or the violent offenders getting hold of weapons, but it requires planning and resources. Derek Bird had his weapons to hand, and he used them. In that way you are correct, our gun laws did not prevent the Seascale massacre.

    Ultimately, however, Bird was only able to kill 13 people in two hours. Partly through his ‘tactic’ of driving around and randomly selecting targets, and partly through his lack of firepower. Lanza was able to kill over twenty in a little under six minutes. He is believed to have fired over a hundred a fifty bullets in that time. Even if Bird had been presented with the same density of targets, and had the same mindset as Lanza, I doubt he could have fired the same number of shots in the same time with his breech loading shotgun and rifle.

    Which comes back to the salient point that we in the UK just cannot understand about US gun control. It is not just the numbers of weapons in the US, it is their potency. Why does a rifle such as the Bushmaster remain on sale to the general public? Why does a hunter need a semi-automatic rifle to take down a deer? Why is it still possible to purchase extra capacity magazines for these weapons, magazines that carry up to 150 bullets? Why is it now legal to carry concealed firearms to school in some states?

    The US is full of vibrant, intelligent people who are caring, honest and forthright. They want the best for their children, and for their neighbours.

    And yet no-one seems to think that reducing the number of guns on the street, or in the schools, or in their homes will reduce access to those weapons, and reducing access to those weapons will reduce the amount of gun related murders and the horror of mass shootings such as Sandy Hook.

    Or look at it this way, if Alex Lanza had only been able to get hold of a single six shot revolver instead of a 30 shot Bushmaster, a 17 shot Glock and a 6-shot Sig Sauer would he have killed as many? Would have many have died if the .223 Bushmaster was limited to single shot mode?

    These are the questions that America needs to answer. Gun control doesn’t need to mean ban all guns. Just to impose some sensible curbs to gun proliferation, and improve checks on sales, storage and licensing of those weapons.

    My heart goes out to those families denied their little ones this Christmas, and to those brave teachers and staff who went into harm’s way to defend their charges.

  7. The above comment’s classification of your article’s presentation of a “false dichotomy” is spot on.

    Your repackaging of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” just should not hold water anymore, and it’s astounding to me that it does. Your reasoning is flawed in two major ways.

    First, your assumption that, if society were just more responsible with their handling of firearms, these tragedies could be avoided, is just ridiculous. It is impossible to mandate responsibility – the closest one can come is some sort of extensive licensing process which typically already exists. Since responsibility cannot be mandated, it is precisely the role of government, with regard to protecting civilians from gun violence, to prevent tragedies like this from occurring. Public policy should search to create an environment where tragedies like what happened last week do not happen. If Adam Lanza, an unstable 20 year old, did not have a semi-automatic rifle he would not have killed 27 people. To say that the official response should be to do nothing is fundamentally absurd.

    Second, your classification of this incident, by your reference to Youtube, as an accident is truly offensive. I am sure that your heart is in the right place and that you’re not a terrible person, but given that your underlying argument is that this massacre was the product of irresponsibility, it is clear that you just don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. These guns were not used to shoot clay pigeons, they were used to murder children. Adam Lanza’s intent was to end lives in as violent and dramatic a fashion as possible. If he had a better understanding of how a rifle should be properly used is irrelevant.

    It is precisely these arguments that are so dangerous, that something can be written off by saying “this instance is anomalous, if we knew how to work a gun better, none of this would have happened.” The Second Amendment is a gift and a privilege, and as such it should be valued and respected. You clearly do value and respect it, and I applaud you for that. But not everyone does, given that school shootings and massacres persist. This is a problem, and it needs to be solved, and there are countless people right now who have been devastated by this tragedy. Nothing can change that. The NRA, and you, given that you are a writer and people read what you say, need to step back and think a little bit more about the power of your words.

    You talk about people having the responsibility to use guns properly. You personally have the responsibility to think before you speak.

  8. I should also say, as a graduate of La Salle University, an employee of La Salle University, and a current Master’s-level student at La Salle University, this article being published with La Salle University’s name attached to it, gives me serious pause and concern about the value of my own degree, not only because I got a good education here and will have a successful, productive, and lucrative career because of it, but also because I believe in the Mission of this University and feel that your perspective, as presented above, is antithetical to that Mission.

  9. I’d like to thank our former Australian PM John Howard and all Politician’s who were in power in 1996/97 who had the foresight to change Australia’s Gun Laws (prompted by 1996 Port Arthur Massacre). Between 1980 and 1996 Australia had 13 mass murders (mass murder consider 4 or more death) and the USA had 21. Since our new gun laws, Australia 0 (ZERO) and the USA 42.

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