The first things you hear thrown about in the aftermath of a mass shooting is the availability of guns and mental illness. NRA supporters always cite the latter and attempt to de-legitimize the former. ‘Mental illness’ is the catch-all phrase as the culprit for gun violence because it sounds plausible, but statistics show that people who commit crimes because they are mentally ill is relatively low.
A more reliable indicator is emerging that people who are prone to commit mass shootings, have a history of domestic violence and animal abuse. The issue of mass shootings in this country is very complex but you can’t solve a very complex problem with a dirt-simple solution. The best and only solution that NRA supporters can offer up are the tired old single-sentence axioms: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” or “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
I see a direct correlation to the issues of tobacco and drunk driving. Again, complex problems with no simple solutions, but that didn’t stop us from addressing those issues. The problem, as I see it, is the culture created by manufacturers marketing to the vulnerable for the express purpose of reaping profit. An end-all solution to any problem simply does not exist. Through the enactment of laws, we’ll never stop people from smoking, driving drunk or committing acts of violence, but we can sure make a dent in it. Tobacco use and DUI is clear evidence.
Tobacco and DUI related fatalities are significantly down because of a multifaceted approach of regulation, education and stiffening penalties on industries who market to vulnerable demographics like big tobacco did to kids with Joe Camel, and the efforts of MADD to stiffen penalties for DUIs. Doing nothing because the belief that enacting a law will not stop a problem is not now and never will be a solution.
If we don’t grow a spine and start addressing these issues intelligently and aggressively, its never going to get better.