The Great Gun Control Debate Of 2016

Some of our readers noted that over the Holidays we neglected to produce our customary Friday shoot-the-shit, this was by design. Selecting shoot-the-shit topics kills an inordinate amount of brain cells and the Holiday Season is refresh time for us. So, this is our first shoot-the-shit for 2016.

For our new readers, a shoot-the-shit is an unstructured presentation and discussion where you the reader can make any assertion without supporting details, you can use profanity without fear of censure, you can insult anyone you wish OR you can change the subject altogether. In a bombastic display of arrogance, we believe that our shoot-the-shits have the same efficacy as sitting in front of a moron who studied a behavioral science because they needed to understand themselves while paying $300 an hour. You will never see an invoice from this site for your shoot-the-shit participation.

We selected the hackneyed Gun Control Issue because it’s replete with emotion, all out misinformation, omissions and half-truths. The gun violence problem needs to be addressed; that’s a common objective on both sides of the argument. The disagreement rests with its solutions. As a manager, I have never successfully resolved a problem without looking at all of its drivers so I try to do the same thing with the gun control debate.

Crime in total and violent crime more specifically is a behavioral problem and as law enforcement professionals know its mechanisms are many. The availability of one tool or the unavailability of another is not a deterrent, a principle well understood by economists; in fact, its formal name is substitution. Someone who wants to commit a crime or inflict violence will do so whether they have access to a firearm or not. So we get down to the behavioral component.

To best address behavior, look out the window at a crowded street and pick out the emotionally disturbed. I suppose if you observe someone bashing their head against a well while running around naked you could identify that individual as emotionally distressed or could you? It may very well be a student pledging TEΦ (TEP). Emotional distress is very complex, it can result from prolonged conditioning, it can be purposely induced or it could be a random physiological event. A person has a car accident and the prospect of higher insurance premiums on an already stressed budget may be sufficient to trigger a violent episode. So addressing behavior to deal with violence is pie in the sky by virtue of the vast human diversity. Maybe we should medicate the water supply! Not very realistic and my approach would be to revive parental supervision. Regrettably we’ve tasked government at an increasing rate to look out for our kids which is at the cornerstone of many of our social problems. Newtown Connecticut is the classical case.

Not to diminish the Newtown tragedy, more bad information has and continuous to be dispensed about its details and causations than we can keep track of; all for no reason other than to garner support for gun bans based on emotion as opposed to intellect. Much of the problem is a media that has become lazy and in the interest of ratings have become megaphones for political agendas. The Sandy Hook tragedy triggered unfounded and unsupported details to suggest that Adam Lanza illegally purchased the guns and ammunition used in the commission of his heinous crime.  Prior to the release of the “Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street,Newtown, Connecticut” on December 14, 2012, suffering victims, misinformed citizens and gun control zealots wanted Bushmater sued, Dick’s Sporting Goods closed, on and on. The official State Attorney’s report, which you can read here, paints a much different picture. In fact on page – 2 the State Attorney States…

“All firearms were legally purchased by the shooter’s mother. Additionally, ammunition of the types found had been purchased by the mother in the past, and there is no evidence that the ammunition was purchased by anyone else, including the shooter.”

In light of this comprehensive report, the media, gun control zealots and elected officials insist that Adam Lanza was able to acquire his arsenal. If anything can be said about Sandy Hook is that it was a gross failure of parental supervision. Mrs. Lanza knew that she was cohabitating with a deeply disturbed child and furthermore failed to secure her firearms and ammunition. To date, the details surrounding Sandy Hook continue to be misrepresented.

One of the recently revised gun control arguments being advanced is the “mass shooting” statistics. Prior to 2015 gang related mass shootings were excluded from that number, which is probably the correct way to analyze the data; however, the  increased number of mass shootings resulting from counting gang related homicides plays well to peoples’ fears rather than their intellect.

The FBI does an impressive job of collecting and compiling data. In 2011, the agency produced a superb report “2011 National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends” that has to be read if you want to understand the magnitude and impact of gang related gun violence. Aside from the magnitude, much of the most interesting reading we’ve done is the FBI’s documentation of how gangs acquire guns. If you are in law enforcement, professional journalist or simply want to know what you’re talking about this is a must read. In December of 2012, we wrote a short piece that gives you a snap shot of what’s in the FBI’s Assessment. You can read that here.

So, in closing our approach to gun violence in America is this:

  1. Reward parental supervision.
  2. Tackle the gang elements.
  3. As a young man, going through school, I had the option of attending marksmanship classes through ROTC or school teams. Why not have our kids instructed in that manner such that they are aware of the the dangers and the implications of gun violence. I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts the NRA would be willing to support that concept.

Solving problems require critical not emotional thinking!

Have a great weekend! Get out to the range, brush up some of those skill sets and have fun with your friends and families!

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