Cheney Free Press -

By Frank Watson
Contributor 

The answer to gun control is stop the violence

 

March 29, 2018



I have watched with interest as students across the country demonstrated to bring attention to the rising number of senseless school shootings. The national media reported these demonstrations as anti-gun protests.

I listened closely to student interviews and for the most part they didn’t advocate bans on guns or even reform of laws allowing gun ownership. They asked for an end to the violence. An end to violence does not equate to a ban on guns except for those who are predisposed to ban guns anyway. It could very well be that the students are wiser than the media. Maybe we would be better off if our focus on violence was broader.

The first mass shooting I recall was at the University of Texas in 1966. Charles Whitman climbed the library tower and shot 45 people before being killed by the police. Our nation was shocked.

Other horrific shootings followed at the rate of about one every three years. Then about 10 years ago the pace began to accelerate. Six of the deadliest shootings have been in the past three years. The anti-gun forces will have you believe that the increase in fatalities is due to the increased lethality and availability of firearms. A review of the statistics indicates both claims are untrue.

Gun technology hasn’t changed much since 1966. My favorite deer rifle is over 100 years old and is just as effective as the new ones in gun shops today. The only semiautomatic rifle I ever owned was passed down by my dad. He won it in a raffle around 1950.

In 1966, over half of all Americans owned at least one firearm. That has steadily decreased to less than 30 percent, about the same as Switzerland. If guns haven’t changed then we must look elsewhere for the cause of these senseless shootings.

I made a mental list of the changes in our society since the Texas Tower massacre. Most changes cannot logically be linked to an increase in violence. One item, however, merited a double take.

Our civil court system made a major shift in the early 1950s. The criteria to be liable for damages in a lawsuit changed from gross to simple negligence. This fostered a proliferation of suits such that anyone who suffers a loss becomes a victim. There are no more accidents; someone must be made to pay for damages.

If you wreck your car, you have a good probability of successfully suing someone, regardless of the circumstances. This victim, “not my fault,” mentality has slowly become woven into the fabric of our culture.

Drug abusers are victims of society. When President Trump suggested harsher penalties for drug traffickers and abusers the immediate reaction in a TV sound bite was, “Drug addition is a disease. It isn’t their fault.”

Students who fail in school are victims. Someone else (parents or teachers) are at fault. We no longer keep score at little league games for fear that one of the teams may not feel successful.

Those who, for whatever reason, fall short of their life goals are victims. Those who just can’t seem to fit in are victims and society is to blame.

The one thing that perpetrators of school shootings have in common is they are societal misfits. We have trained these kids to believe that they are victims. They are not to be blamed for their problems — someone else is at fault. With that mind set, it is not too much of a stretch for one of societies misfits to bring a gun to school and seek restitution through violence. The shooter in Florida last month was a societal misfit, as were the shooters in Columbine and the shooter last year at Freeman in Spokane.

It is easy to blame guns. It is hard to blame changes in our cultural norms. If I am right, however, and our blameless society encourages misfits to seek revenge, what do we do about it? We must become a nation that accepts responsibility for our actions and our shortcomings.

We cannot blame someone else for our failures. It is normal to fall short of life’s goals. Very few are selected for prom queen. Half the population are below average economically. Half of us have below average social skills. This is normal. We need to reverse the growing victim mentality. Where do we start? Tort reform would be as good a place as any.

Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and long-time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free-lance columnist for over 19 years.

Gun technology hasn’t changed much since 1966. My favorite deer rifle is over 100 years old and is just as effective as the new ones in gun shops today. The only semiautomatic rifle I have ever owned was passed down by my dad. He won it in a raffle around 1950.

 

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