But then this is America and acquiring a semiautomatic weapon is the least of a young psycho’s problems. In this case, apparently, it was a birthday gift from his father, who was worried the boy was too withdrawn. Maybe you didn’t think it all the way through, Dad.
Today on Facebook there are the usual threads about gun control: why it’s necessary and why it’s useless, and why if only everybody at that Charleston Bible-study group had been armed, this senseless tragedy might have been prevented. The mass murders all run together and so do the debates. Then it’s on to the next one, a week or a month from now. The only thing that changes is the sales figures for firearms, which always spike when firearms are used to kill a lot of people at one time.
The Washington Post recently wrote about a Connecticut “permit to purchase” law that appears to have reduced gun killings by 40 percent over the last 20 years. The comments were predictable: many variations on the old saw, “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
But study points out that the gun law really depended on the old economic law of supply and demand:
Connecticut’s gun permit law made it harder for guns to enter the black market. Lower supply means higher prices. A motivated crook could still get her hands on a gun, but it would take more time and resources. Perhaps she would have to travel to a different state, or ask a friend with a clean record to illegally obtain a gun for her.
“People assume incorrectly that criminals will do anything and everything in terms of cost and risk to get their hands on a gun,” [one of the study authors] said. “But that simply is not what the data tells us.” Connecticut’s law didn’t stop criminals from acquiring guns, but it deterred enough of them that the gun homicide rate dropped.
How many homicides does a law have to prevent before it’s considered worth inconveniencing people who want a gun pronto, right this minute? I don’t know, and maybe such a law wouldn’t have changed a thing with this latest outrage. But I think at some point we have to stop insulting each other in the comment sections and figure out if something can be done.
We’ll never stop the madness, I get that. But surely we can make it a bit less common.