As I read Joel Watts’ answer, I first found a lot that I agreed with, but soon the differences emerged. I agree that there is a significant social component to this issue. What we do as individuals often impacts others. But while I agree in broad concept, we will probably disagree over the details and specifics on this and many other issues.
I also found it interesting that both of us listed problems with our mental health system as the first of the three things that need to be done. While we would differ on some of the details, this is a very complex and complicated area, with a lot of room for improvement.
But that was pretty much where the agreement ended. While I agreed people are reluctant to say “anything or much of anything” until after a shooting, I do not think this is because people “shy away from seeing all lives in a community dependent upon one another.” I find it far more likely that they shy away lest they be considered “judgmental.” The problem in a culture that accepts pretty much anything is that the line between just another of many alternative lifestyles, and these murders, can become very fine indeed and the stigma against being judgmental is very high.
Of course then there is the problem of what happens if you do report someone. The answer is not much. A distressed mother who lives in fear of her child wrote just after the last shooting, that a social worker told her that the “only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime.” So we have a culture that punishes people for incorrectly reporting, but does very little if you do report. Is it any wonder people are reluctant to report?
Not too surprisingly, the biggest difference occurred over the issue of gun control. Frankly I believe that movies that glorify violence such a “Django Unchained” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D,” which for a time were the two most popular movies in the country, are a far more profitable area of focus. Still, I would oppose any government effort to “control” such movies. But we should ask ourselves, why we as a culture celebrate them, “Django Unchained” being nominated for four Oscars, including best picture.
The greater problem is that not only has gun control not worked, it will not work, and if anything is counterproductive, as the biggest effect of all this talk of control is to spur the sale of guns. Thus with all the recent renewed interest in gun control, gun sales are at record highs.
One key question is, how is taking guns away from law abiding citizens supposed to make them safer? Watts points out that Chicago has the highest gun murder rate in the country. It also has some of the strictest gun control laws, nor is this an aberration. Other contenders for this dubious honor also have very strict gun control laws.
The recent focus and been on clip size and ammunition purchases. Watt proposes weapons be limited to combined 15 rounds. This would make it illegal to own two weapons that had 8 rounds clips. This is hardly practical. It is not uncommon for gun enthusiasts to own 8 guns. More importantly, someone who is serious about guns can easily fire 1000-2000 rounds a month in practice. Do we really want a system that makes it more difficult to practice so that people can handle their guns safely?
Finally, it is counterproductive in that it makes sensible gun control much more difficult. For example, the biggest objection to registration is the fear that registration will make confiscation easier. To this has been recently added the fear that your name and address will be published in an interactive map by a newspaper.
Not only do such actions make the whole discussion about legitimate controls more difficult, it is downright dangerous. For a time I worked as a teacher in Juvenile Hall, and my wife worked at a mental hospital. At such places it is the norm to keep personal information to a minimum, particularly your home address for reasons of safety. But if I were to have a registered gun, does that mean I have to live in fear that a newspaper will publish a map to my house because some editor did not like guns and wanted to punish gun owners?
Bottom line is that gun control is not the answer. More importantly, it focuses on things rather than people, and thus only distracts from what are the real problems.