On to 'Knife Control'
In a perfect world the massacre in Newton, Connecticut would never have happened. But it did. Now we are all left to deal with the aftermath.
The death of twenty innocent children has made this issue all the more emotional for us, but the body count and age of the victims shouldn't matter -- murder is always a horrendous crime. The question is: can society ever prevent its members from committing such evil?
During a recent debate on gun control MSNBC host Touré said, "We ignore the fact most of the other countries in the world have worked this out, have solved this."
No they haven't. As of late, U.S. gun policies are most often compared to that of the United Kingdom's. Following the massacre at Dunblane, the UK enacted a near universal gun ban in 1998. Today the majority of police officers are not allowed to carry a firearm even while on duty, and even the UK Olympic pistol team must fly to Switzerland to practice. All the same, the most recent government statistics show gun crimes in England and Wales have gone from 5,209 in 1998 to 9,865 in 2012 -- an increase of 89 per cent.
Keep in mind, however, that murder was already illegal prior to the overhaul of gun ownership laws. In reality the ban was enacted to prevent crimes that were already illegal. Not only is this non sequitur, it is also ignorant. We all know guns aren't the only means of killing someone.
In response to the Aurora and Sandy Hook massacres, Senator Diane Feinstein introduced legislation similar to the now expired "Assault Weapons Ban" she helped pass in 1994. While her current proposition provides exemptions for hunting and sporting weapons, in a CBS' 60 Minutes interview Feinstein revealed her ultimate goal was the confiscation of all guns. "If I could've gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them -- Mr. and Mrs. America turn 'em all in -- I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren't here."
Though equally committed to the same cause, CNN host Piers Morgan believes gun ownership should not be criminalized but rather limited. Society must deprive would be murders of their "weapons of choice," and gun control legislation should focus primarily on assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Though both ideas are fundamentally flawed, the one invariably leads to the other.
A deranged individual intent on murder is not going to be deterred simply because their "weapon of choice" is no longer available. Though it's often left out of the conversation, Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza also had two handguns on him during the massacre. Does anyone actually think Lanza's murderous intentions would have been thwarted if he couldn't acquire a rifle? Of course not.
If assault rifles are banned, murderers will simply find different instruments of death. Piers Morgan and others like him will then call for another ban on the latest "weapon of choice". Soon enough we'll be back to Feinstein's original goal of banning all guns. Murders will only continue, and society will eventually demand new solutions.
Many other countries have reached this exact point. By implementing a near universal gun ban the United Kingdom immediately ended the nation's "gun culture." Since then, however, gun crimes have gone up, and even on-duty police officers live in fear of the rising power of armed gangs.
Not only has the "gun culture's" demise failed to curb violence, but critics are now concerned about the nation's emerging, "knife culture." The London- based Independent believes, "There is no doubt that knives are a greater social menace than guns."
Rather than exploring a change of policy, UK communities are instead using many of the same gun control measures to address the increase in knife violence. In the past four months the West Midlands police have confiscated thousands of "weapons" that include scissors, kitchen knives, and metal baseball bats. The UK Daily Mail called the haul a "fearsome arsenal" of "deadly weapons."
Are Americans really prepared to follow the United Kingdom's lead and begin the process of confiscating knives and other household objects? If we actually believe the government can prevent murder by restricting access to certain "weapons of choice", we must be equally committed to controlling everything that can cause death. More questions will have to be asked. How will we deal with cell phones and their capacity to make bombs? Will we have to systematically determine which members of our society are addicted to playing violent video games? What about watching gory movies? Will we need background checks in order to purchase baseball bats?
The problem is we can never fully remove every article capable of causing death. Before guns were invented, rocks were used to crush people's skulls. It was rocks then; it is guns now. Who knows what it will be in the future.
Maybe it's time to stop asking what weapons are used to commit murder and instead ask ourselves why society continues to produce individuals capable of such atrocities. Too often the perpetrators of death are social outcasts trapped inside nightmare lives. What if someone reached out to them before the massacres occur? What if we raised our children to befriend the castaway sitting alone, to bind up the wounds of the forgotten, and show them there is a better way? Maybe it's time to realize we live in a spiritually dead nation that has lost its sense of morality. That's where this conversation needs to start.
Josiah Cantrall is a columnist and political operative. He served as National Coalitions Director for Rick Santourm's presidential campaign. www.josiahcantrall.com