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.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Frankly, all the gun laws are part of the problem. An armed society is a polite society.

    There is always some level of violence, but back in the 80s, gun control advocates claimed that Florida’s then-new “shall-issue” concealed carry law would cause a flood of gun violence. The opposite happened, with the state homicide rate dropping faster than the national rate.

    “Shall-issue” concealed carry is now the law in 36 of the 50 states. There has been no explosion of violence in those states, and misuse of firearms by permit holders is even rarer than by police officers.

    Fr. Mitch Pacwa had an interesting point on “Threshold of Hope” about our duty not only to love others, but to love ourselves, too. Indeed, we have a duty to self-defense. IMO, “shall-issue” is an important tool in assisting people to protect themselves and others from violent crime.

  • Don’t swap one set of simplifications for another – if you read that entire article, than you know that Menino and the police department ARE doing more than just pining for more gun-control laws.

    I agree with you on all the familial/societal work that needs to be done. But that won’t happen overnight, especially given what seems to be a return to the climate of fear of the early ‘90s (one thing that’s struck me about the South End shootings was how there were allegedly upwards of 100 witnesses for each and yet the police can’t seem to get anybody to talk). So in the short run, yes, you need the cops to get tough and move in en masse. And that is exactly what the police ARE doing.