The unfortunate and very sad shooting of twenty innocent kids and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has produced a flurry of activity to “do something”. The majority of the ignorant public is gunning for (pun intended) the banning of guns. The mass hysteria this situation has produced will put pressure on legislators to make new anti-gun laws based on emotions and not on logic or solid empirical evidence. People never learn the simple fact that the majority are not always right and therefore cannot be the basis of enacting anti-gun laws, even if 99.99% are in favour.
Some people who want more gun controls have dishonestly produced a red herring by reducing this debate to “The gun lobby versus America”. Of course the gun lobby will oppose any moves to ban guns for their own selfish reasons but that is not the point. The main issue is that firstly, the bearing of arms is a provision that the American forefathers wisely put into the constitution for the purposes of self-defence. Laws preventing people bearing arms are therefore mostly unconstitutional. Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president I think made a very practical suggestion by calling on Congress to put armed security guards in every single school in America. Matthew Moberly on his Twitter page best expressed this idea:
We have armed guards at banks because money is worth protecting. Do our children not deserve the same protection?
Secondly, there is a body of evidence that adds weight to the argument that the solution to such massacres is actually more guns in society. If every shooter knew that there could be many people with guns in a place they plan to attack, it acts as a deterrent, and even if it does not in a few cases, they can be stopped more easily than if everyone is defenceless except the criminal.
William Bennett opines in a piece for CNN that:
…there is a near impenetrable belief among anti-gun activists that guns are the cause of violence and crime. Like Frodo’s ring in ‘The Lord of The Rings,’ they believe that guns are agencies of corruption and corrupt the souls of whoever touches them. Therefore, more guns must lead to more crime. But the evidence simply doesn’t support that…. John Lott, economist and gun-rights advocate, has extensively studied mass shootings and reports that, with just one exception, the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011, every public shooting since 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns. The massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, all took place in gun-free zones.
The right to self-defence is paramount. Gun control laws and policing, no matter how robust, will never stop criminals and other determined people getting their hands on weapons and ammunition. Perhaps the only issue that needs addressing is a law that requires a background check to make sure the buyer has no record of mental problems.