Can we learn something from other countries about gun control?
MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., November 8, 2017 ⏤ Another day, another mass shooting. Mass shootings every month is the new norm. And please don’t talk about gun control.
Twenty-seven human beings, including several children, were shot dead in Texas while attending church. Some of the responses tell the whole story. A Republican congressman said that there is nothing we can do. President Trump blamed the whole thing on mental illness, oblivious to proposals from his administration and the Republican House to decrease funds for mental care.
Trump added that the presence of a man with a gun prevented the deaths of hundreds more.
The developed country with the most mass shootings is the US. We are the world’s melting pot, but the resulting human alloy is unusually prone to violence and resistant to peaceful conflict resolution. What makes us more likely than Germans, Japanese or Canadians to grab a gun and commit mass murder?
Why are Americans so violent?
Do we have more mentally ill people than any other nation? Unlikely. We aren’t that different from the French, Germans, Japanese, Brazilians or Koreans in this respect.
Is the fault in our history, full of violent episodes like slavery, civil war, and the genocidal conquest of the West? Is it our troubled history of racial hatred?
Other countries have had bloodier civil wars than ours, and others have been as cruel to minorities. Their violent pasts haven’t turned their schools and churches today into killing fields.
The most likely reasons for our frequent mass murders are associated with the tools we use to commit them: firearms.
- The easy availability of firearms makes it easy for some people to resolve their problems with decisive violence.
- Groups like the NRA have given us a cult of the firearm, making an instrument of hunting, law enforcement and war into a quasi-religious fetish.
- Americans are unusual in the developed world for their fear of their own government. We reject attempts to impose gun control as an incipient dictatorship.
- We carry our childhoold fascination with guns into our adulthood, a situation unusual in the developed world.
- Guns are fun. Some people find enormous enjoyment in firing finely crafted instruments of destruction, while millions more enjoy target shooting and hunting.
How do other countries manage gun control?
Most countries in the world don’t face citizens as in love with guns as Americans. How have they avoided the cult of the firearm?
They never promoted ownership of firearms in the first place. They didn’t enshrine gun ownership in their constitutions.
They defined clearly a place and purpose for firearms, e. g. for public protection by the police and for national defense by the military. When a person can show that his life or property can be in danger and may not be able to be defended by others, then exceptions are made, and a person is given a permit.
An example is a judge that deals with organized crime, or a private guard that must collect large amounts of money in unsavory neighborhoods.
They may allow for hunting weapons to be kept near their place of use, like in a club. These weapons are usually not allowed in private homes unless there are special circumstances.
Degrees of Gun Control
Regardless of what degree of control firearms have in one of these countries, they are required to be registered. There is no collectors or gun shows exceptions. People must show that they are familiar with their weapons, especially safety, that they are not felons and that they are not mentally ill.
All or some of these could go a long way in decreasing the number of people killed, not only in mass shootings but in all aspects of crime in which a firearm is used.
Another reform that has been contemplated in the past is to require liability insurance for gun ownership. There is some evidence that this approach as it has been applied to car ownership and usage has been effective. It is interesting that the NRA appears to have jumped on this bandwagon.
There is a lot of money to be made.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is alarmed at the inaction by our legislature in the face of frequent mass shootings. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).