Gun control is too simple; an even easier solution is needed

30 Dec

Gun control-Obama


If Americans eat an incredible number of hamburgers, is it fair and safe to say that Americans like hamburgers?

Probably so.

If Americans shoot and kill an incredible number of Americans, is it fair and safe to say Americans like to shoot and kill Americans?

Probably not.

So what do we say?

I want to describe the phenomena here but the precise words elude me.

We can say Americans have a propensity to shoot and kill other Americans. Or they have a tendency, or are apt to. Proclivity. Predisposition. Propensity. Penchant. Inclination.

None of these words work. None of them say it.

Only the statistics do.

Take Iceland. According to the New York Times, statistics show that Icelanders do not like, and do not have a tendency or propensity, to shoot and kill other Icelanders. On average, 30 out of every 100 Icelanders have firearms, but figures show that in a recent year no Icelander shot and killed another.

The Norwegians are similar. There are an average of 30 firearms for every 100 resident of Norway, yet there were only two homicides with these weapons in a year’s time.

Other countries with very low rates of firearm homicides are Slovenia, Luxembourg, Hungary and Estonia.  Yes, these are small countries, so the number of deaths naturally is low, but so is the rate of deaths per 100,000. That rate in Norway, for example, is 0.5; in Slovenia it is 0.1.

The New York Times statistics say that in the U.S., where there are an average of 89 firearms per 100 people, the yearly death toll is 9,960. The firearms death rate is 3.2 per 100,000 people.

One country that seems to exceed the U.S. in animosity toward itself is nearby Mexico. While there are only about 15 guns per 100 people in Mexico, Mexicans shoot and kill 11,309 Mexicans in a year. That’s a rate of 10 deaths per 100,000.

I don’t know whether we have influenced our neighbors to the south, but we haven’t done so to our neighbors in the north. Canada has a lot of guns, about 31 per 100 people, but Canadians have kill only 173 people, a rate of 0.5.

So, for me the question is this: Can gun control legislation stop hateful, angry, maladjusted, blood-thirsty people from killing? If it is true we “like” to shoot and kill other Americans, will legislation stop this?

Certainly. But does it get to the heart of the problem, which is the “like?”

Years ago during a period of high inflation, when wage and price controls were being debated, a frustrated economist told me, “When the pot boils over on the stove, you don’t hold down the lid. You lower the burner.”

Gun control legislation tries to hold down the lid. I’d prefer we lower the burner. I guess this amounts to social engineering of some sort, which is always dangerous, risky and inexact. But I’m curious if anyone has studied the cultures of Iceland and Norway and Canada to find out what makes people different there. I’d really like to know.

I tend to think the American system, with its roots in merit and competition, has pressures and stresses and failures that other nations don’t have, and because we are so used to them – like a fish in water – we are not even aware they exist. They do, however, influence how we treat each other.

Merit and competition, I find, are good things. Not so much failure.

Is there a way to prevent abject failure? Is there a way to keep people off the street and in homes; out of prison and productive; with a job that ensures a life of reasonable dignity?

Our tendency to shoot and kill each other tells us things about our society that we like to ignore. I wish we would stop this. I wish we would face ourselves and correct ourselves and better ourselves.

It’s possible we may find out the secret solutions are relatively simple.

A man who taught for several decades in prisons did an informal study of the students who returned to him and those who did not. He found a correlation between recidivism and marriage. Every single ex-con who married when he got out never came back. The results were conclusive and definitive.

That’s pretty simple.

Let’s try something like that. A wife/husband, a job and an apartment.

To some who would shoot you just as soon as he would look at you, that equates to paradise. Paradise, I would guess, is the answer to just about everything.

By Lanny Morgnanesi




2 Responses to “Gun control is too simple; an even easier solution is needed”

  1. sanclementejedi January 9, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    I don’t think those countries you mentioned allow automatic weapons or large capacity mags. I would imagine their citizens also do not suffer from the paranoid delusion that they are going to have to take up arms and overthrow the government cause a black man is in charge of things.

    Scientists are still trying to figure out how Canadians watch the same films and play the same video games that we do yet manage to shoot each other at a much smaller rate. 😉



  1. On Gun Control And Why There’s More To Mass Killings « Emilie Hardie - January 5, 2013

    […] -Gun control is too simple; an even easier solution is needed […]


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