In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings over the past weekend, politicians and pundits are already bloviating about the need for more gun control, and all the yadda-yadda-yadda we've become accustomed to hearing from them. Mostly, they're dancing in the blood of the victims, seeking to build their own support on the back of their suffering, and offering "solutions" that are nothing of the sort.
Of course, almost all the "solutions" being advanced are not "solutions" at all, because they focus on tools rather than individuals. As I wrote back in 2009, after the Winnenden school shooting in Germany: "Again and again and again, the instrument is not the cause of the problem; the instrument is not guilty of the problem; and banning the instrument won't solve the problem!" Go read that article for a more comprehensive treatment of the subject.
Here's a very simple series of questions to ask about any proposal to "solve" the problem of mass shootings through gun control.
- Would the proposed solution have stopped the shooters in either of these incidents from obtaining a weapon and/or ammunition? If so, how? Be specific and practical in your answer. If the proposed solution would only prevent the legal purchase of a firearm, but the perpetrator would still have been able to obtain one illegally (such as in the Sandy Hook school shooting, where the perpetrator stole the gun he used), then it will only be a minor inconvenience to him. It won't stop him.
- Would the perpetrators have been able to obtain a different weapon, in some other way, that would still have allowed them to wreak havoc? If not a gun, what about gasoline to commit arson (as in the Happy Land attack), or knives to attack crowds (as, for example, in the 2017 London Bridge terrorist incident), or renting a heavy vehicle to ram it into a crowd (as in the Barcelona attacks of the same year)? If the proposed solution doesn't address those issues, then at best it answers only a small part of the problem.
- Would the proposed solution have prevented the shooters reaching their selected targets? If so, how? Be specific and practical in your answer.
- Would the proposed solution have stopped the perpetrators firing on their victims? If so, how?
- If half or more of the above questions cannot be answered affirmatively, then why should we take the proposed solution seriously?
There are going to be lots of politicians arguing that we have to do something about the problem of mass shootings. Mostly, they're posturing. What they should be saying is that we need to do something effective about the problem of mass shootings . . . and that's a whole lot harder than merely pontificating. If all they can do is bloviate and offer insincere, insubstantial, vague proposals that won't actually solve the problem, they're not worth your vote - or anyone else's. In fact, I'd take that as a good sign that they need to be turfed out of office as quickly as possible, and replaced by someone more honest and objective.
Talk is cheap. Workable solutions are very, very hard, and may be impossible. That's reality. Anyone who ignores that reality for political gain is pretty much a worthless human being, IMHO.