On gun violence, moving past symbolism and symptoms

Chicago police display some of the guns they had seized as of July 7, 2014. That city is on pace this year to exceed its number of shootings last year by almost 500. (AP file photo)

Chicago police display some of the guns they had seized as of July 7, 2014. That city is on pace this year to exceed its number of shootings last year by almost 500. (AP file photo)

The next time you hear someone accuse a Republican presidential candidate of pandering to the base, kindly steer him or her to Hillary Clinton’s plan for addressing gun violence.

It is a bewildering mix of references ranging from the fictitious (the “gun-show loophole,” which is neither a loophole nor applies to gun shows) to the arbitrary (“assault weapons” so classified by people who wouldn’t know an AR-15 from a Colt .45) to the already illegal (banning “straw purchases” of weapons) to the unconstitutional (allowing people to sue makers of firearms used in murders, just as the makers of hammers, knives, rope and matches are liable; oh, wait …) to the potentially acceptable (better enforcement of existing laws and efforts to keep guns away from felons and the mentally ill).

Hey, it beats talking about her emails or Joe Biden.

Clinton’s platform was of course prompted by last week’s horrific shootings at a community college in Oregon, where a 26-year-old man killed nine classmates.

Few details of the shooting were known before President Barack Obama told Americans it was OK to “politicize” these events. The rush to seize political leverage was unseemly, but sort of understandable: Given the tenuous (at best) relationship between the facts in most of these killings and the “solutions” Obama and Clinton favor, waiting for details doesn’t help their case.

As in most of these killings, the facts suggest most proposed laws wouldn’t have helped. What the Oregon gunman had most in common with previous mass killers were histories of mental illness, broken families and a demented desire for infamy.

Yet the proposed solutions never change. Yes, it would be exceedingly difficult to solve problems such as balancing individual rights with new restrictions on the mentally ill, or reversing the decades-long breakdown of the American family and the society that’s crumbling around it, or weighing the public’s right to know about what happens in these cases vs. the responsibility not to encourage copycats. But more difficult than effectively reducing the number of guns in a country believed to have as many firearms as people?

Republicans are accused of being the NRA’s lackeys because they don’t back Democrats’ mostly symbolic gestures. Or because their own “solutions” tend to center on making guns even more commonplace in public.

So here’s an idea for Republicans looking for a different approach: Go hard, and sincerely, after the other issues involved in shootings.

Don’t just talk about the social and economic collapse in large swaths of cities such as Chicago, controlled by Democrats for decades and home to a shooting every 2.8 hours. Channel the late Jack Kemp — or his modern-day successor in many ways, Rep. Paul Ryan — and champion real ways to address this urban decay.

You say you’re the party of family values? Well, while we can’t prevent every divorce any more than we can prevent every gun death, we can look for ways to strengthen families through better public policy and more reinforcement of civil society. That includes supporting families and communities with members suffering from mental illness.

It’s not enough to point out the uselessness of others’ ideas. A party that deserves to govern will offer real solutions of its own.

Reader Comments 0

44 comments
Shar1
Shar1

How does a "well-regulated militia", say the National Guard, maintain gun safety?


I'd guess it is through mandatory training and retraining, limiting access to guns without supervision, limiting the availability of ammunition, mandating that all weapons be locked up when not in use adn that every weapon is checked out and becomes the responsibility of a specific individual who bears the consequences of any misuse. 


Think we could get any of those ideas past the NRA?

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

America-hating leftists have big problems with Our First and Second Amendments, and would love to repeal both.  They have drafted legislation to undo the First.  It isn't a slam-dunk that even a bare majority of the victims of public schooling even know what these Amendments protect--how long to you suppose they will last?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

A 47- year-old Clarkston woman in the parking lot witnessed one of the store’s loss prevention officers trying to stop a shoplifting suspect getting into a dark colored SUV. The customer — identified as a concealed pistol license holder — reportedly fired shots at the dark-colored SUV as it sped out of the lot.


It’s unknown how many rounds were fired from her 9mm handgun, but police believe she hit and flattened one of the vehicle’s rear tires as it sped off in the direction of Brown Road.


It was not known if anyone was injured in the incident. The customer remained on the scene and was cooperating with police. A report is to be turned over to the county prosecutor for review of possible charges, if any, on the woman.


A good girl with a gun. Hurrah !!!!

Juanx
Juanx

Kyle...I would love to read your opinion on the female vigilante, licensed carrier, shooting at a shoplifter in the parking lot of Home Depot out in the Midwest recently.  

Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

I wouldn't be opposed to creating a physicians database that tracked patients using anti depressants and having it cross referenced during a background check. I know it sounds intrusive and unfair but no one said life was fair.

fktrump
fktrump

Kyle- You are dreaming if you think GOP in this state will buck the NRA and actually follow Heller decision and preamble of  second amendment with reasonable regulations of guns and  ensure the "security of a free state" .


There are too many guns out there and the gang bangers and thusgs get a lot of them from down here in Georgia. Last time ATF allowed to trace crime to guns seized around 2007 there were over 25% sold in Georgia seized within five years. Why did GOP and NRA block any digital record keeping on gun registrations and sales by law? What infringement on the Heller right for self defense in a home is created by mandatory gun registration and insurance? The insurance market will weed  out the wack jobs with guns very efficiently. No Kyle the NRA owns the legislature in this state and could not give a hoot about family values.

Trying to pin this on Obama is ludicrous. His job is to protect the public from violence. At the federal level GOP and NRA has tied his hands.And yes Chicago is Exhibirt A of gun possession out of control by thugs and gang bangers and we are not far behind here when teens have a. shootout in broad daylight at a Quicktrip and are carjacking every hour..

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@lvg Where did I try to "pin this on Obama"? Do you ever read what I write before commenting?

fktrump
fktrump

@Kyle_Wingfield @lvg Who wrote this- someone else???

"Few details of the shooting were known before President Barack Obama told Americans it was OK to “politicize” these events. The rush to seize political leverage was unseemly, but sort of understandable: Given the tenuous (at best) relationship between the facts in most of these killings and the “solutions” Obama and Clinton favor, waiting for details doesn’t help their case."


I assume you were being complimentary of his efforts to solve the mass shooting problem by the public and legislators finding a solution as he suggested. I could swear I heard him say doing nothing is not an option. or is it to the right?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@lvg Yes, I wrote that. What exactly was I "pinning on him"?

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

People like Mrs. Clinton, who want to liberate what's yours for redistribution to those who are less "lucky", are the same people who are trying very hard to disarm you...in the name of public safety of course.

No doubt they will chafe at the suggestion of any ulterior motive, but you can't help but connect those dots. 

TGT88
TGT88

Some problems defy a government solution. (This is especially the case if one is talking about a godless-secular government.) Thus, we at least need a government that will abide by the Hippocratic Oath, and first, "Do No Harm."


In other words, we can’t have a government that encourages sexual immorality, whether through taxpayer funded abortions, promiscuous sexual education, or the promotion of homosexuality, and then wants to pay for the consequences of such immorality with billions in tax-payer funded welfare. We can’t have a government that seeks to cure poverty or violence with a godless secular education system. We can’t have a government, as Grover Cleveland put it, that “encourages the expectation of paternal care” while weakening “the sturdiness of our national character.” 


In other words, we don’t need a government that thinks that it can, through mere secular means, cure all that ails our culture. We need a government (of course that means elected officials) that understands that truly to change someone, truly to change behavior, requires getting to the heart of individuals. And of course, this requires spiritual efforts, and we all know where that leads. (http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2013/06/big_government_cant_fix_immorality.html)  

ssinf
ssinf

More gun control is a pipe dream given the political climate. I'd be happy if people would simply acknowledge that the easy access to firearms in this country is the chief reason that there are so many deaths by firearm. It isn't mental illness, it's not the breakdown of the family. It's the fact that there is at least one gun for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.A.

MoFaux
MoFaux

Kyle, you are dead wrong when you claim that no gun control laws can help.  Banning guns and bullets for non-military/police (with exclusions for shooting ranges and newly-created professional hunting jobs) would definitely make a huge dent.  I do agree that fixes coming from the left OR right would not make a large impact.  What we need to do as a country is end our love affair with guns, period.  It's tough to overcome addiction, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.  And yes, I realize this will be difficult, if not nearly impossible, to pull off without a progressive majority, possibly in all branches of gov't.  I've made it through my life without ever needing to own a weapon...I'm guessing other humans can do so as well.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MoFaux "Banning guns and bullets for non-military/police (with exclusions for shooting ranges and newly-created professional hunting jobs) would definitely make a huge dent."

OK, what do you do with the 300M+ guns and billions of bullets already out there?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MoFaux "Many people would not comply, sure, but many others will."

And in which group would you expect to find the people most likely to commit crimes?

MoFaux
MoFaux

@Kyle_Wingfield @MoFaux As someone else pointed out, it takes money to fix stuff (i.e. curing diseases, like this addiction).  Similar to Australia, you do a gun buyback program.  Many of them could be recycled for military/police to offset costs.  You have stiff penalties/fines for those caught with their weapons/ammunition.  Perhaps some exceptions for heirlooms or antiquities.  Many people would not comply, sure, but many others will.  If you only shoot for perfection, then be prepared to shoot yourself in the foot.  The object is to decrease the gun population as significantly and quickly as possible.  You can't do this overnight, but eventually this would work.  Those who enjoy guns could still go to shooting ranges or even make a career out of it (curbing overpopulation of animals).

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

we can look for ways to strengthen families through better public policy and more reinforcement of civil society


You mean through government social programs. Aren't they enablers and just create bigger government intrusion.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@McGarnagle "You mean through government social programs."

Most of what I mean involves changing/curtailing/refocusing existing programs that have hurt the family.

GMFA
GMFA

We lead the World in gun ownership and in deaths by guns, which is not a good title to own. I think both Dems and Pubs have given in to the NRA as to not make guns the prime subject in races. But the proliferation of guns in this country has not made us safer and all practical solutions have been shot down, no pun intended. And Kyle, President Obama was speaking from the heart about gun problems in this country. The Sheriff in Oregon had a Sandy Hook Conspiracy link on his Facebook page but took it down quickly. He is the kind of nut that makes this country far worse than it needs to be. 

People with MH problems including Vets with PTSD do not need to own guns. But probably half the people who own guns really shouldn't have them, including poster boy for the NRA, George Zimmerman.

MarkVV
MarkVV

The responses of conservatives to new acts of gun violence are just as predictable as of those favoring stricter gun control. Some of those are well represented in Kyle’s column:

The gun-show loophole is fictitious. No, it is not. It is not precise, but it is not fictitious.

“Assault weapons” so classified by people who wouldn’t know an AR-15 from a Colt .45. How does Kyle know that? Has he tested all the people who say that? More importantly, one does not have to know the exact definition of an assault weapon to understand that guns capable of shooting many rounds in a short time are more dangerous in civilian hands than those that do not.

Allowing people to sue makers of firearms used in murders would be unconstitutional. Maybe so, but I would not take the word of a journalist for that.

When conservatives are faced with the fact that countries with strict gun laws have far fewer gun deaths than the US, they usually come up with the silly argument of cities or states in the US with stricter gun laws having high rates of gun crimes. As if US cities and states were countries, and as if it was not so easy to move guns from other cities and states.

And then there is the argument that those mass killings are the deeds of mentally sick people, so that the whole problem is not one of guns but one of mental illness. No, it is not. That overlooks the fact that there are many more victims of gun violence every year than those in these school shootings.

fktrump
fktrump

@MarkVV Look at latest shooters mother who lived with him and knew of his mental problems. She boasts of him owning so many guns and assault rifles in blogs and takes him to shooting ranges. 


Sandy Hook all over again.


Sheriff who is in charge wrote after Sandy Hook that gun control would not be enforced by him and parents who ere grieving and asking for gun control were part of a conspiracy.  


What is wrong with that picture.?

straker
straker

Any solution to this problem is going to cost a great deal of money.


So, as long as our Congress is controlled by Republicans, don't look for anything to be done. 

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

@straker Exactly. When Congress is reducing food stamps and can't even provide thorough health care and benefits to its soldiers, I have to assume "hopes and prayers" is all the capital that will be spent.


Like my father-in-law says: "America is no place to live if you are poor."

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

By the way, was the Oregon shooter diagnosed as being mentally ill or did we somehow make a leap to that conclusion? Sorry if i missed that point of fact some where.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Kyle_Wingfield @Finn-McCool The question becomes "how do we keep guns out of the hands of people like this?" 


It's hard to answer because the mind is complicated, and not everyone is diagnosed. It would probably take a national database to track those who have seen a doctor. It would probably take a national database to track who is taking what medication. It would probably take a national database for all gun stores to be able to access, which can take time, so a waiting period is likely going to need to be put in place if it's not an immediate qualification by the database. 

I'm also hesitant at having another national database of anything, because that's another step in removing rights of citizens.  That's why the solution is complex. But saying there is no solution isn't helpful, it's a matter of moving between "do nothing" and "do something useful." 

M H Smith
M H Smith

Mental illness tops the list. 

Like all the rest of healthcare left unattended, treating mental illness costs a lot of money the GOP is unwilling to spend.  

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Gun violence is just a segment of the bigger issue of violence in general. Look at the quality of life in countries where violence is less pervasive than here in the US. What do you see?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Finn-McCool I got your point, but wanted to point out that's partly because we aren't a more generally violent country than we used to be. On the contrary.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Finn-McCool "the bigger issue of violence in general"

This is widely believed but completely undermined by the facts. Here's how the rate of various crimes nationwide in 2014 compares historically:

TOTAL: lowest rate since 1966

VIOLENT: lowest since 1970

PROPERTY: 1966

MURDER: before 1960 (earliest year in the data set)

ROBBERY: 1966

BURGLARY: 1962

LARCENY THEFT: 1968

VEHICLE THEFT: 1962

For two other categories, forcible rape and aggravated assault, the 2014 rate was barely higher than in 2013; until we see a few more years to mark a trend, those very small upticks are probably just noise. In 2013, the rate of forcible rape was the lowest since 1973, for aggravated assault it was 1974.

So, in fact, you are less likely to be the victim of one of these violent crimes than at any time in 40-50 years. In a country whose population has grown by about 75% during that time, the absolute number of crimes is larger and thus there are more of them to be reported. But they are happening less frequently relative to our population size -- dramatically so, in most cases, compared to the 1980s and '90s.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Finn-McCool OK, but if our rates continue to fall so sharply, those comparisons will mean less and less, no?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Finn-McCool Now, the question of mass shootings is a little different, although we've seen short-term spikes in the number of these cases before. But as stated in the OP, the problem is less about the means by which they commit them and more about the murderers themselves. If you didn't click the link about "demented desire for infamy" in the post, read this: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/media-inspires-mass-shooters-copycats

There is virtually nothing that gun-control laws can do to stop someone who takes the time to study previous mass shootings and tries to plan an even bigger one. This is where we need to be better at identifying possible candidates for these crimes and giving the families/communities around them the means to help/stop them.

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

Although it is called the "gun show loophole", it is really the private sale loophole.  Having been to and bought guns at gun shows, when I buy from a vendor they do the background check.  However there are individuals walking around with a gun for sale and if I buy from them the only thing that happens is that cash and the gun changes hands.  I once sold a lever action rifle to a friend I'd known for years.  No background check needed.  I found out later that he had been convicted of felony domestic abuse and would not have passed a background check.  I really don't see a problem with the two of us having to meet at a FFL dealer and having the background check run for a modest fee,


As for "assault weapons", there really isn't such a thing.  I can take the mechanisms of an AK-47 or AR-15, put them in a nice wood stock and a hunting scope on top and I have what looks like a very nice deer rifle.  The major difference is the size of the magazines.  Most hunting rifles don't have 30 round magazines as you should be able to take down the deer (or whatever you are hunting) in one or two shots.  Same with pistols.  I can buy pistols with 20 and 30 round magazines where I really don't need any more than 10 or 15 rounds for home defense.  Focus on the magazines and not the weapon itself.

There is also no reason I need to buy 50 guns at a time on a trip to a gun store.  Sure, I might want to buy a pair of matched pistols or the guns I need for 3-gun competition, but some limits on how many guns I can buy as an individual for a given day, week, or month is reasonable.


Despite the NRA, I think the average gun owner is OK with some reasonable changes like those above.  We don't want to lose our guns or have them highly regulated, but we are fine with some steps to keep them out of the hand of people who shouldn't have them.


Now why does there seem to be more gun violence?  Well, when I as a kid we played "Army", shot guns at summer camp, and the worst violence we tended to see were the new reports and photos from the Vietnam War.  Now we have more and more graphic violence in films and TV and I can sit on my couch all day killing all types of people and beasties with my Nintendo or X-box.  With the internet and other new form of instant media I think society as a whole and the younger generations in particular have become desensitized to violence.  Better "family values" (whatever they really are) would help, but changing how society views and perceives violence might help. 

Savdon
Savdon

USA is a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.  The "leadership" of this country long ago forgot about "...by the people, for the people."  Now it is, "We know what is best for you and you will respect our Authoritha!" We're not a dictatorship-->in name only.


The last presidential election I railed on those repubs who didn't bother to show up because they were going to "send a message" to the repubs.  Look what that got us.  Another dose of 4 more years of pure misery and worldly ridicule.  This next go around I'm not going to vote because "Frankly, I don't give a damm."


Oh.  Guns.  Destruction of the family unit.  Therein lies the root of the problem.


Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

I'm looking forward to hearing Kyle's solution to fixing broken families.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

"A party that deserves to govern will offer real solutions of its own."


Republican? LOL. That ship has sailed.................

Caius
Caius

"...strengthen families through better public policy..."

I am not sure I want Congress involved and I sure do not want some administrations involved.  That leaves the judiciary and their track record is spotty.


So that leaves "we the people".  And we are doing a poorer job that the institutions of government.  As a society we are A OK with killing 2500 kids a day.  Good luck to us.





LogicalDude
LogicalDude

" potentially acceptable (better enforcement of existing laws and efforts to keep guns away from felons and the mentally ill)."

"It’s not enough to point out the uselessness of others’ ideas. A party that deserves to govern will offer real solutions of its own.


Thank you Kyle. I keep hearing that none of the Democrat's ideas are useful in preventing the widespread gun violence. When asked, I hear many Republicans (or conservatives?) say "I don't want anything to prevent me from my second amendment rights!!!!"  This, as you say, is useless. 


Aim to improve mental health in the country. Do this by NOT cutting funding to it. Do this by actually pushing for and showing support for programs aimed to help people.  Yes, it is difficult to take away guns from people who are mentalliy unstable, and to prevent them from being able to buy guns.  That does not mean we shouldn't even attempt a solution, just because it's hard to do.  We should at least take SOME steps.  Because doing nothing means continued gun violence.