The reflexive call for gun control

The reflexive call for gun control

There have been several high-profile shootings of innocent bystander children in Boston in recent weeks. Every shooting is a tragedy, but the homicide rate is up in the city this year and more bystanders are being injured.

So what is the natural reaction of liberal politicians? Mayor Tom Menino is demanding more gun laws.

He deplored ‘‘the availability of guns we have in our community today” and said, ‘‘We need to remove the guns from the streets. . . . We need stronger laws, we really do.”

‘‘Cities can’t do it alone,” Menino said. ‘‘The gun legislation on assault weapons is ready to expire in Washington, but no one is dealing with that issue. Why?”

This makes no sense. We already have plenty of laws on the books (some estimates put the number of state and federal gun control laws at over 300), so what would new laws do? Isn’t it already illegal for these criminals to possess and use the weapons they’re using? Does Menino expect them to say, “Oh wait, I was okay with breaking five laws, but I’m not going to break a sixth one”? Does he believe that these guns are being purchased legally in the first place?

The solution to the shootings is not more gun laws, although that’s the easiest step to take, because a politician can make it appear he’s doing something about “scary” guns without having to actually show results. What is needed is the hard work of making parents accountable, of fixing families, of getting kids off the streets and away from gangs, of arresting violent criminals and making sure they stay in prison for a long time, of increasing police patrols, of getting people into church, and of improving the economic situation of the neighborhoods. But that’s tough work that doesn’t fit into sound bites and can’t be accomplished in one campaign season. For that matter, most of that can’t be accomplished by politicians at all. So what we get instead is the sound bite band-aid call for more gun control that makes no one safer, but only the politician’s job.