Gun Violence in the USA… NOT a complex problem

I have been an advocate against guns for as long as I can remember. Maybe it is a Canadian thing, although many Canadians own guns. I am not against freedom of choice; I abhor most types of censorship and am not a big fan of government regulations. However, as a social marketer I do believe there are some issues worth fighting for. It seems that almost every week I hear about innocent people being killed by guns in the USA.

However as I pointed out in a recent blog over the many years working in the world of business and the public sector and following politics there is one issue that has constantly baffled me … gun control. It seems that this is one issue where common sense seems to be non-existent and you wonder if normally intelligent people seem to lose their mind when confronted with this issue.

Announcing that he would send proposals on reducing gun violence in America to Congress, President Obama mentioned a number of sensible gun-control measures. But he also paid homage to the  views about the many and varied causes of this calamity — from mental health issues to school safety. As Fareed  Zakaria   pointed outs in his  article The solution to gun violence is clear ”the killing of young children and many other mass murders using guns is not a complex problem that will require a complex solution. In fact, the problem is straightforward and the solution is blindingly obvious to any thinking person.”

Zacharia points out that people point to three sets of causes when talking about events such as the shootings of young kids and their teachers in Connecticut:

  • First, the psychology of the killer;
  • Second, the environment of violence in our popular culture; and,
  • Third, easy access to guns.

Any one of these might explain a single shooting. What Americans should be discussing is not one single event but why they have so many of them. Much more than any of the industrialized countries. The number of deaths by firearms in the United States was 32,000 last year. Around 11,000 were gun homicides.

To understand how staggeringly high this number is, compare it to other industrialized countries. England and Wales for example have about 50 gun homicides a year. Many people believe that America is simply a more violent, individualistic society. But again, the data clarify. For most crimes — theft, burglary, robbery, assault — the United States is within the range of other industrialized countries. The category in which the U.S. rate is magnitudes higher is gun homicides.

The U.S. gun homicide rate is 30 times that of France or Australia, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and 12 times higher than the average for other developed countries. Note, Canada with the tenth of the population of the USA had 173 firearm homicides in 2009.

So what explains this difference? If psychology is the main cause, Zacharia points out the USA should have 12 times as many psychologically disturbed people. But they don’t, actually the USA does take mental disorders seriously and invest more in this area than do many other industrialized countries. (Note: the United States could do better if they had a more universal health care system hopefully this will be resolved in the next few years with Obamacare).

Is America’s popular culture the cause? This is highly unlikely, as largely the same culture exists in other industrialized   countries. Think Canada for example, we are exposed to the same movies, TV shows, and video and internet games and have a fraction of the gun murders than the USA.

Zacharia points out that youth in England and Wales are also exposed to virtually identical cultural influences as in the United States. Yet the rate of gun homicide there is a tiny fraction of the USA. Why? Britain has tough gun laws.

I can remember being in Japan many years ago and video games are sold everywhere, the Japanese are video game crazies and are at the cutting edge of the world of video games. Yet their gun homicide rate is close to zero! Japan has perhaps the tightest regulation of guns in the industrialized world.

With respect to Canada they have much stronger gun laws although Canadians do have millions of guns. Private citizens owning assault rifles or handguns is rare. In Canada it takes up to 60 days to obtain a firearm, after registering, taking a course and going through background checks.

So when you look at the  data it would strongly suggest to anyone with common sense , yes pure common sense that  the USA have so much more gun violence than other countries because they have far more permissive laws than others regarding the sale and possession of guns.

It is hard to believe that the USA which has 5 percent of the world’s population has 50 percent of the guns. There are more guns in the USA than people and gun deaths will be overtaking traffic deaths in the USA by 2015, a stat which is hardly imaginable in any other industrialized country. You would think that intelligent people would see that there is clear evidence that tightening laws — even in highly individualistic countries with long traditions of gun ownership — can reduce gun violence. But this is not the case in the USA.

In Australia, after a 1996 ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons — a real ban, not like the joke of a ban enacted in 1994 in the USA with 600-plus exceptions — gun-related homicides dropped 59 percent over the next decade. The rate of suicide by firearm plummeted 65 percent. (Almost 20,000 Americans die each year using guns to commit suicide — a method that is much more successful than other forms of suicide.)

The deaths of 16 children aged five and six together with their teacher in the Scottish town of Dunblane in 1996 was one of Britain’s worst incidents of gun-related violence. The massacre stunned the country, but what did the UK do to try to prevent such a tragedy happening again?

Within a year and a half of the Dunblane massacre, UK lawmakers had passed a ban on the private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain, giving the country some of the toughest anti-gun legislation in the world. After both shootings there were firearm amnesties across the UK, resulting in the surrender of thousands of firearms and rounds of ammunition.

In 2010/11 there were 11,227 offenses, 53% below the peak number, according to the official crime figures. Crimes involving handguns also fell 44%from 5,549 in 2002/03 to 3,105 — in 2010/11.

Let’s face it in any society there will always be mentally deranged or people with severe mental illness. And some might be influenced by popular culture. But if the movies and video games is the problem why is the killing of innocent victims by guns on a weekly basis not a problem in a country like Canada.   (Yes we have had a few mass shootings in Canada but nothing like they have in the USA and the guns used for many of these mass murders were smuggled into Canada from the USA)

Why not have government do something much simpler and that has proven successful: limit access to guns. And as Zacharia points out not another toothless ban, riddled with exceptions, which the gun lobby use to “prove” that such bans don’t reduce violence. (Note the NRA keeps on pointing out that the last ban did not work, what they do not say is they did not work because of their organization’s influence on weakening the regulations).

So what do the brilliant folks at the NRA come up as a solution to killing kids in school… more guns of course? Armed guards in every school.

The NRA does not use any common sense in their suggestion as they are ignoring two elements that strongly favour the shooter going into a school. First is the element of surprise. If there is only one armed guard that would be the first person taken out and, given it’s in a school, an armed guard cannot simply fire on the first kid that looks threatening. Can you imagine the uproar if an armed guard shot a kid he or she thought was armed but was just reaching in his coat for something else?

Second, armed guards would have to be concerned about hitting innocent bystanders so they cannot simply fire away. Lethal Weapon where police can blast away and never hit a bystander is a movie not reality. The shooter would not really care who he hits giving him a significant advantage. Besides, he could simply go somewhere else were young people hang out like the mall, football field, hockey rink, or even a school bus. What about summer camps or theaters where you will find lots of kids? Are they going to put armed guards everywhere?

The point is that there is plenty of room for discussion on gun policy and plenty of room for defining the common ground around reasonable restrictions that gun-owners and advocates can agree on. There is no reason that in the US they can’t increase background checks, and make it more difficult for people to buy 100-drum magazines and assault rifles that have no function except to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible.

This all falls under common sense, yes simple common sense.

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CEPSM launches new In-House Training Program

In response to the growing demand for the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) to bring its marketing training In-House to departments and organizations across Canada, CEPSM has prepared value-driven, cost-saving options from seminars to certificate programs. You choose the size of audience, pick a topic and agenda or have us customize one for you.  There are a range of useful topics that are tailored for either the public sector or not-for-profit sector.

 

CEPSM’s In-House Consultation and Professional Development Programs provide your public sector organization with a wide range of affordable options for accessing marketing and communications experts in the comfort of your own workplace.

What are the benefits?

  • Involve more staff and stakeholders in the planning process
  • Learn about best practices for marketing and communications in the public sector
  • Save on travel costs to conferences, workshops and events
  • Get information that is tailored to your specific environment

 CEPSM provides public sector-related expertise in the following key marketing and communications disciplines:

  •  Fundamentals of Marketing 
  •  Creative Marketing Techniques
  •  Social Marketing for Behaviour Change  
  •  Social Media Monitoring 
  •  Strategic Social Media Engagement
  •  Marketing Research and Evaluation 
  •  Partnerships, Strategic Alliances and Collaborative Arrangements

CEPSM’s In-House Consultation and Professional Development Programs provide your association with a wide range of affordable options for accessing marketing and communications experts in the comfort of your own workplace.

What are the benefits?

  • Involve more staff and stakeholders in the planning process
  • Learn about best practices from the association sector
  • Save on travel costs to conferences and events
  • Get information that is tailored to your specific environment

CEPSM provides association-related expertise in the following key marketing disciplines:

  •   Association Branding
  •   Event Management
  •   Integrated Marketing Communications
  •   Membership Marketing and Recruitment
  •   Revenue Generation Assessment Selling Strategies and Techniques
  •   Social Marketing for Behaviour Change
  •   Social Media Monitoring
  •   Strategic Social Media Engagement
  •   Sponsorship Program Development
  •   Strategic Marketing Planning

Retain the Services of a CEPSM Expert at an Affordable Price

Call Claire Mills at 613-731-9851 ext. 20 or e-mail: clairemills@cepsm.ca

 

Get out your calendar and insert the dates of exciting events at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

1. World Social Marketing Conference

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing is delighted to be involved with the World Social Marketing Conference, which will take place in Toronto, Canada from April 21-23, 2013.

The conference attracts participants from many countries and you will get the opportunity to meet social marketers from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America. This is a tremendous opportunity to learn from social marketers around the world and most important the opportunity to network with social marketers like yourself.

Note: The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing will be running a pre-conference 1 day social marketing workshop entitled: Social Marketing Planning: Implementing an Effective Campaign

For more information go to:   http://wsmconference.com/

2.  MARCOM Professional Development

The dates are set: May 28 & 29, 2013
Mark your calendar and start your training plan!
The location is set: Ottawa Convention Centre

Plan now to attend the only forum of this kind in Canada!

3. Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

The only Canadian university certificate program for government and non-profit marketers.

Feb. 13 – May 23, 2013

7 Course Modules – 8 days over 4 months

Register Today!

4. Social Marketing Strategies that Change Attitudes and Behaviour… Moving Beyond Awareness

When: February 6, 2013

Where: Delta Barrington Hotel

1875 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3L6

(902) 429-7410

Register

To learn about all of our training programs

Go to our web site Cepsm.ca

 

 

 

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Extra Extra Read all about it Marketing is in deep trouble

A few months ago I wrote a blog Is Marketing Dead which was in response to the controversial article by Bill Lee in the Harvard Business Review which proposes that traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Lee states that many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm.

My take on this article was marketing is clearly not dead, like many disciplines it’s constantly evolving. Just because a field is changing does not make the actual discipline dead. Is there a lot of money wasted on marketing? Yes there is. Are there people in marketing resistant to change? Of course there is and that is true of every field.

In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers 73% of them said that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric. The Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program,  which interviewed over 1,200 CEOs from across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia found that 70% of CEOs Admit They May Be Responsible for Marketers’ Poor Perceived Performance:

  • 80% of CEOs were not very impressed by the work done by Marketers and believed Marketers were poor business performers.
  • CEOs thought Marketers could not adequately prove the positive business impact their marketing activities.
  • CEOs thought Marketers had lost sight of what their job really was (i.e. to generate more customer demand for their products/services).
  • CEOS thought Marketers were not business performance-obsessed enough.
  • 70% of the same CEOs admitted they may be somewhat responsible for Marketers’ poor perceived business performance and reputation – but purely as a consequence of:
    a) Having steadily lost trust in Marketers’ business abilities; and b) Subsequently having given up on holding Marketers accountable.

 UGH!!!

Mitch Joel points out that marketing departments have liquidated themselves over the past two decades by focusing all of their energy on advertising and promotions. They have forgotten about the need for marketing 101 – the basics of the four Ps and the value that a well-rounded marketing department brings to an organization. We suddenly have revenue departments instead of marketing leading and nurturing the pricing strategy of the business. We suddenly have product managers instead of marketing leading the product development and placement. So, what’s left? You guessed it, just the promotion.

He adds. Can digital save the day? I believe it can . What’s required are both much more education within the marketing departments of the world (to better understand digital, measurement and analytics) and a shift in philosophy that marketing doesn’t need to be dominated by advertising? Marketers can win back the c-suite trust, so long as they’re willing do more real marketing, instead of simply focusing on the advertising (which is still important, it’s just not everything).

Now in a recent article we have marketing guru Al Reis writing an article in which we find that Too Many Marketers Are Going Soft.

He refers to the disease of major corporations around the world  spending huge amounts of time and money thinking up soft, emotional positioning slogans. He gives an example of one of the most prestigious business schools in the world Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management coming up with a very lame slogan for their school “developed by hundreds of alumni, students and faculty”. With all due respect, the last people I would have developing positioning and branding lines for a business school are alumni, students and faculty.

As I have pointed out in over 150 blogs there is good marketing and bad marketing. And I have been very critical of the bad marketing observed in my career as a practioner, academic and consultant.  The secret is to be open to new ideas,  be strategic i.e. strategy before going headlong into tactics, and most important  listen to the people you are trying to reach and influence . Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Let me know what you think.

 

Get out your calendar and insert the dates of exciting events at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

1. World Social Marketing Conference

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing is delighted to be involved with the World Social Marketing Conference, which will take place in Toronto, Canada from April 21-23, 2013.

The conference attracts participants from many countries and you will get the opportunity to meet social marketers from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America. This is a tremendous opportunity to learn from social marketers around the world and most important the opportunity to network with social marketers like yourself.

Note: The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing will be running a pre-conference 1 day social marketing workshop entitled: Social Marketing Planning: Implementing an Effective Campaign

For more information go to:   http://wsmconference.com/

2.  MARCOM Professional Development

The dates are set: May 28 & 29, 2013
Mark your calendar and start your training plan!
The location is set: Ottawa Convention Centre

Plan now to attend the only forum of this kind in Canada!

3. Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

The only Canadian university certificate program for government and non-profit marketers.

Feb. 13 – May 23, 2013

7 Course Modules – 8 days over 4 months

Register Today!

4. Social Marketing Strategies that Change Attitudes and Behaviour… Moving Beyond Awareness

When: February 6, 2013

Where: Delta Barrington Hotel

1875 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3L6

(902) 429-7410

Register

To learn about all of our training programs

Go to our web site Cepsm.ca

 

 

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