Stopping Gun Violence

As people continue to mourn the victims in Sunday’s horrific shooting in Orlando, a familiar debate is starting again: what to do about gun violence. Talk to someone, and you’ll most likely hear the phrase, “it feels like every time I turn on the TV, I hear about killings somewhere.”

What can we do to stem these acts of violence?

Some groups say that these killings are the reason why people should be allowed to carry firearms. Others believe that further gun restrictions are the solution. If one analyzes the situation objectively, there are valid arguments on both sides.

Could increased gun ownership and conceal-carry laws help prevent these types of shootings? Perhaps. In Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, they suggest that more people with guns tilts the balance of power in our favour. It increases the risk to a criminal that a potential victim may be armed. On the other hand, it could needlessly escalate a situation. What if pulling a gun on a potential shooter caused them to have a fight-or-flight reaction and start shooting? What if a would-be hero misses the criminal and hits an innocent bystander?

This is where I believe the problem lies with our discussion of gun control. If you strip away the fanatics on both sides, you are left with rational arguments that are equally valid. However, these questions and solutions do not address the underlying cause of violence.

I don’t believe that more gun control laws will make a big difference. Why? Well, in my video about the Paris attacks, I discuss similar ideas.

With ISIS and other terrorist groups, you have a group of people who have been so disenfranchised that killing a group of people is a rational option. More details are emerging about the shooter, Omar Mateen. His ex-wife has said he had a violent temper and had emotional issues. The imam at his mosque said he rarely interacted with the congregation.

Once again, disparate data points suggest that Omar was somehow isolated from society. However, these points alone are not enough to definitively explain why he opened fire. Claiming that he is just “a radical Islamist” is also not an explanation. Nobody is asking why Omar became a killer. What triggered him to kill someone?

Until we seriously look at the root cause of gun violence in society, we will continue to have mass shootings. No amount of adjustment to gun control (less or more) will have an impact on gun violence numbers. Guns are a weapon, just like knives, crossbows, and pressure cooker bombs – they need someone to use them in order to kill.

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