Why is there no Common Sense among Politicians on Gun Control?

I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.
Clint Eastwood

I normally cover the marketing beat but every once in a while there is something out there that bugs me and I feel very compelled to write about it. So to my readers expecting a marketing blog I apologize but I simply need to get this off my chest.

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 politicians seem to lose their mind when confronted with this issue.

For example when there is a dramatic community event like the recent Toronto gunfight that killed two and left 23 wounded, a politician’s first instinct is to try to fix the problem. It’s a good instinct, but so is thinking before you speak. Yes thinking. Before you say something think it through. With social and fast pace media, thinking is a rare commodity in the world of politics.

Can you imagine a mayor who is faced with a gunfight in his city talking about running people out of town, even throwing Canadian citizens out of the country? Failing that, the mayor’s knee jerk reaction is to ask for funds for more police as if that would be his solution of choice. Hard to believe… but this just happened in Canada’s largest city…Toronto.

The fact that this is clearly not the solution to the problem is what is so frustrating. If there were simple and easy solutions to this problem, politicians would have adopted them years ago, but it is not a simple problem and it requires some thinking. Yes thinking.  The reality is that problems with guns won’t improve until we get at the fundamental reasons for these problems. There is a problem with guns in Toronto, and other cities.

However the real problem is not hiring more police and it is not only the availability of guns (although we should certainly do everything we can to eliminate guns especially hand guns).

As the Ottawa Citizen pointed out recently in an editorial“There are too many communities in which young black people see gangsters as admirable role models. These criminals have money, nice cars, women and guns. Most others in the community have nothing. In this upside-down culture, criminals are the winners and it’s no wonder teens want to emulate them. There is a cultural context, too. The image of the black gangster has been enhanced by companies selling clothing, music, movies and video games. The average video gamer has slain hundreds on the screen. For some, the line between reality and virtual reality has become blurry. There is a generation of young people in our major cities who have nothing, and think they have nothing to lose. That’s a problem every day of the week, not just when there is a gang fight and a fatal shooting.”

Now instead of the mayor demanding more police or longer sentences for criminals, although this may be part of the solution, the problem with youth in these troubled communities is they need to see a choice that is better than joining a gang.  The solution may be to find employment for these people or community programs, and most important providing better role models. For example the vast majority of these families are led by a single parent, usually a mother, and fathers “have left the scene”. Does anyone think that youth growing up without a father figure won’t have an impact on young people especially young males? It’s not easy to change a community’s culture which has been around for many years, and no single program will do it. Also change has to come from within the community itself and not imposed by outsiders.

The mayor of Toronto refers to these programs as “hug a thug” programs. But Mr Mayor doesn’t it make sense to hug kids before they become thugs?

There is no question that the police should arrest and charge the criminals who are behind gang violence and who carry guns, but as long as the culture continues, those arrested will be followed by the next generation of youth just like them.  It is like pulling out the weeds in your garden and leaving the roots in the ground. They keep coming back year after year.

In the US which just had the largest mass shooting in American history, they are wondering if is still too soon to start a conversation about reasonable gun restrictions. Actually the conversation should have started many years ago. How many senseless acts of gun violence does it take before you talk about restrictions on guns?

Here is the toll, beyond the 12 dead and 59 wounded in Aurora. More than 180 people killed in mass shootings in the past five years, including the 32 people who died in the April, 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. And if you think that is mind blowing the total of Americans murdered by gunshots every year is 10,000. Yes 10,000!!! . Consider Canada with the tenth of the population of the USA had 173 firearm homicides in 2009 . You would think after that many deaths there would be some conversations on the topic?

However, in the USA presently, it has become politically incorrect to talk about restricting the ability of unstable individuals to get AR-15 rifles, or 6,000 rounds of ammunition?

America leads the world in gun violence by many multiples. The National Rifle Association (NRA) outspends anti-gun advocacy groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence by a factor of 10-to-1, making it all too easy for members of Congress to calculate that taking on — or even talking about — this issue isn’t worth the cost.

A new poll by the Republican pollster Frank Luntz for Mayors against Illegal Guns found that:

  •  74% of NRA members and 87% of non-NRA gun owners support criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun.
  •  74% of NRA members think that concealed carry permits should be granted only to applicants who have completed gun safety training and 75% believe that such permits should be granted to people who have not committed violent misdemeanors, including assault.
  •  In addition, 71% of NRA members back the idea that people on terror watch lists should be barred from buying guns, and
  • 65% believe that gun owners should be required to alert police in the event of lost and stolen guns.

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 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.

When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, “Well, what do you need?”
Steven Wright

A week after this post 7 people were shot and killed  at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek

The killer used a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, which he purchased legally, and more than one ammunition magazine. It’s worth noting that the killer pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in Houston in 1994, was sentenced to 180 days of probation and had a 90-day jail sentence suspended. He also had troubles in the military, where he reportedly was demoted from sergeant to private, a move suggesting some kind of misbehavior? And what about his history as a racist skinhead? Would that have turned up in the FBI’s database? If not, why not? Why is a person with this record  allowed to buy a gun, especially a hand gun which can be concealed and kill many people instantly. Are their no background checks?

December 14th, 2012

NEWTOWN, Conn. — At least 27 people are dead, 18 of them children, after a shooting in a Connecticut elementary school

When will the insanity end ?

Where is the common sense?

 

 

About jimmintz

Managing Partner, CEPSM Jim Mintz is a veteran marketing professional with many years of experience as a practioner and academic. He is presently Managing Partner at CEPSM and Program Director of the “Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing” at Sprott School ... Specialty Areas: Social Marketing, Integrated Marketing Communications, Public Sector and Non Profit Marketing
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One Comment

  1. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the
    little changes that will make the greatest changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

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