The Great American Gun Neurosis!

By: Sal Palma

I grew up in a time when an individual, 18 or older, could walk into a Montgomery Ward store and purchase a .22 caliber squirrel gun, shotgun, a Marlin 30-30 or a .270 Remington 700 deer gun and walk out the door with his purchase.  There were no background checks. The clerk simply recorded your name, address and driver’s license number in a log book and that was that. It was also a time when you were hard pressed to pick up a newspaper or tune in to a news channel to hear about some lunatic committing an honor killing, or walking into a theater killing dozens of people. It simply did not happen even in the gun permissive environment prevalent in those days.

Over the years, purchasing a firearm has become more difficult with more restrictions than in the past; yet we’ve seen an increase in violent crimes where a firearm was used in the commission of that crime. Were I to follow in CNN’s footsteps, I would lead you to the conclusion  this proves that gun control does not work. Instead, I will withhold that conclusion and in its place suggest that American society has undergone a dramatic change, and that this social morphing is the underlying reason for the increase in violence across the country. The liberal members of the intelligentsia would probably not dispute my assertion opting to immediately jump to the conclusion that social morphing is precisely why we need to impose gun control. (Note, this is the same thought process incubated  at Yale, Harvard and Columbia during WWII. It was the liberal intelligentsia who advanced the concept the Holocaust was a fabrication to draw the U.S. into the war.)

Take for example a piece written by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria published in The N.Y., titled “ The Case For Gun Control”, Aug 20, 2012.

There are 88.8 firearms per 100 people in the U.S. In second place is Yemen, with 54.8, then Switzerland with 45.7 and Finland with 45.3. No other country has a rate above 40. The U.S. handgun-ownership rate is 70% higher than that of the country with the next highest rate. The effect of the increasing ease with which Americans can buy ever more deadly weapons is also obvious.
Over the past few decades, crime has been declining, except in one category. In the decade since 2000,violent-crime rates have fallen by 20%, aggravated assault by 21%, motor-vehicle theft by 44.5% and non-firearm homicides by 22%. But the number of firearm homicides is essentially unchanged. What can explain this anomaly except easier access to guns?”

In his article, Fareed draws the conclusion that since the United States has more firearms per 100 people than other countries and since homicides, in which firearms were used,  remains unchanged – ergo, firearms are the cause.

Recognizing that CNN is proselytizing gun control in America, with folks like Piers Morgan, Fareed Zakaria and others, it’s difficult to present a logical counterpoint. However, maybe it’s possible to shame them into taking an unbiased and systematic approach to the debate, without regard for their personal opinions. Some may call this approach the scientific method. So let’s begin!

I have never had a gun walk up to me and suggest that I kill or rob someone. Therefore, it follows that it is the gun owner making the decision to employ  a firearm in that manner. Let us also agree, the gun owner’s desire to kill or rob is driven by fear, ignorance, jealousy,dementia or any number of behavioral stimuli. If you can agree with this let’s move on to the next step.

You visit a gallery and are moved to purchase a work of art. You joyfully take it home to hang it on a wall, but when you get home, you find that you don’t have a hammer. You jump in your car and speed to the hardware store to buy a hammer, but there are none because they were banned. Do you then go home to admire your new art as it leans up against a wall or do you pick up a shoe, rock, pipe, pan, wrench or piece of metal to use as a hammer so that you can hang your art. If you did the later, you found a substitute that lets you satisfy your need to mount your art. Is it then reasonable to say that a person bent on killing, for whatever reason, will do so with or without a gun? If I were being honest, I would have to respond to the affirmative.

All of America feels a sense of tragedy for the Arizona victims, Aurora and Wisconsin. They are senseless acts. They can not be predicted nor can they be prevented by controlling firearms. It simply does not follow.

In a span of 21 months, our country experienced 3 separate instances of mass killings. It is horrible and should never happen but you have to place things in perspective.

  • All of the perpetrators purchased guns legally.
  • It is estimated that in the United States of America there are 43 to 55 million gun owners.
  • In the most recent year, 2012, there were two mass killings, Aurora and Wisconsin. If we  divide 2 by 43,000,000 and multiply by 100, this is the result (2/43,000,000)100 = 4.65e-6% or .00000465%. In other words, the two incidents constitute .00000465% of the total gun owner population. Had I used the high estimate of 55 million gun owners, the percentage would be even lower. This is the reality putting emotions aside. These events are tragic and destructive but they constitute random anomalies.

Describing these anomalies as regrettable, random and unpredictable outliers, to truly answer the question if gun control will reduce violent crime we must understand the underpinnings of violence where a firearm is used in the commission of the crime.

For example, of the homicides committed with the use of a firearm, how many are drug related and gang related. How many or what percentage are racially or ethnically motivated, etc. Would the individual have killed regardless of his or her ability to obtain a gun?

Furthermore, would a gang member or drug trafficker deny themselves a firearm, with or without gun controls in place?

With serious analysis, conducted in earnest, the gun control issue can be discussed with impartiality and intelligence, and perhaps with greater effect.

America is suffering from Gun Neurosis driven by emotion, misinformation, Media proselytizing and political figures with little to show for their time in office except for the great gun debate!

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