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We need to stop talking about gun control

We got horrible news out of Oregon last week where another group of people were shot down by a murderer who ignored the prohibitions of a “gun free zone.”

Within hours, and before anyone knew the facts of the shooter’s identity, motives and methods, President Barack Obama positioned himself in front of television cameras for what has now become a rote political response calling for gun control.

He even, after calling these shootings “routine”, launched a pre-emptive strike against critics suggesting that his maneuvering was motivated by politics.

“What is also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say ‘Obama politicized this issue,'” Obama said. “Well this is something we should politicize.”

I don’t necessarily disagree. Politics are the means by which we implement policy, and if there were public policy we could enact which would address the problem of mass shootings it would be worth talking about.

The thing is, there seem to be no such policies in evidence. Which is why past efforts to push gun control – even in the wake of tragedies like the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., or the massacre of school children in Sandy Hook, Conn. – have failed. Not because American policymakers are in the thrall of the NRA, as the left-wing talking point claims, but because there is no majority of Americans who think guns are the root cause of these incidents and that gun control can stop them.

The people who demand gun control to solve violent crime are operating at the same intellectual level as those who thought the Volstead Act could cure alcoholism, or that we are winning the “war on drugs.” It’s thinking we need to reject.

Even if the gun control advocates could somehow muster the wave of political support it would take to put some whiteout on the Second Amendment, or even enact the stiff purchase and ownership reforms they prefer, why in the world would we believe that the government can control guns any more effectively than they’ve controlled drugs and alcohol?

Supposing that guns are the problem – and, again, they’re not – they are not going anywhere anytime soon. Which is why President Obama and the other opportunists who demand gun control in the wake of these tragedies, whether they’re motivated by a desire to actually implement policy they think will work or are merely scoring partisan political points, are wasting our time.

Time we could be spending thinking about who it is committing these crimes, and why.

Dylan Root, who murdered members of historically black church in South Carolina, was a racist. James Holmes, who sprayed bullets into an audience for a Batman movie premier, seems to have thought of himself as the Joker character.

Nidal Hassan, who murdered 13 at Fort Hood, styled himself a “Soldier of Allah.” Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 at Virginia Tech, had severe depression and an anxiety disorder which at times inhibited his speech. The family of the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, feel he may have been an undiagnosed schizophrenic.

I could go on, but what emerges here is a disparate group of characters with little in common beyond the fact that they are all male and, whether motivated by politics or religion or fabulism or mental illness, all sought to express themselves through violence using guns.

Guns that were usually legally purchased, as it happens.

That they chose guns as their implements of mayhem seems secondary to why they sought the mayhem in the first place. They could just as easily be driving their cars into masses of people, or making bombs, or attempting mass poisonings.

The method doesn’t matter; the motive is everything. There is more we need to understand about why men like these are snapping and lashing out.

Understanding that will be slower coming if we are eternally distracted by a fruitless debate over gun control which never goes anywhere.

So please, let’s have less knee-jerk politicking after these tragedies. It’s only making it more likely that the tragedies will continue.

Rob Port is a Minot resident and the editor of sayanythingblog.com.

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