Gun Control and the Urge to “Do Something” in the Wake of a Tragic Shooting

Often times in the wake of a particularly horrific shooting, politicians and even ordinary citizens feel compelled to “do something.” Gun control advocates seize on this urge to act, since it is human nature to want to take action in the wake of a tragedy. This tends to lead to wasted effort or actions that actually make the situation worse. Sometimes the best course of action is no action, or at least action after considerable thought is given to the issue:

Banning guns won’t prevent shootings
By now it should be pretty clear that gun control laws are just more laws for criminals to ignore. Gun control hasn’t stopped school shootings. Decades of gun control has seen Washington, D.C. become the murder capital of the United States, and Chicago‘s handgun ban hasn’t fared any better in preventing crime. Instead, these gun control laws only serve to disarm the law abiding citizens, especially women. Empirical evidence shows that school shooting can be stopped by armed citizens.

Sometimes there is nothing that we can “Do” in the wake of a tragedy
As sad as it is, sometimes there is nothing that we as a society can do after an act of violence is committed by a criminal. The gun control groups “feel good” measures of banning guns won’t stop a determined criminal from either buying a gun on the black market, or using some other tool to kill. Concealed carry rights can go a long way to allowing law abiding citizens to defend themselves, but even citizens with concealed carry can’t stop every single criminal. Neither can increasing police patrols, or raising penalties for violent crime. In short, one of the prices we pay for living in a free society is that every once in a while, a criminal will do unspeakable things. Rather than trying to find quick ways of fixing the problem (which won’t work anyway), we need to accept the fact that with freedom comes risk. I for one would rather live in the United States, where I might get robbed by a criminal once or twice in my life, than to live in a country where the government rules its citizens with an iron fist, and papers are needed to travel between cities… (Not to mention that such totalitarian societies generally end up being more violent and less stable than free societies anyway.)

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What we can “Do” to really solve the crime problem
Instead, of taking rash action and trying to legislate away rights, such as gun ownership, we should take a look at the causes of crime. Often, poverty and lack of education play a role in a child growing up to be a criminal. In such cases, we can reduce the crime rate by improving education. In other cases, especially with school shootings, the shooters are mentally disturbed. Identifying them before they go on their rampages, rather than trying to ban guns, could save lives. But these changes would take time to enact, and effort to make work, while passing another pointless gun control law is quick and easy, especially during an election year. None the less, it is these effective changes that we should strive towards.

I’ll close with a quote by Benjamin Franklin:
“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”