It’s been a week since the horrible tragedy in Connecticut. There are screams for gun control, assault weapons bans, police at the schools, and all sorts of things. But an article in yesterday’s Washington Post sheds some light and common sense on the subject.
Charles Krauthammer was a psychiatrist in Massachusetts during the 1970’s. He has an interesting perspective on what happened last week.
Mr. Krauthammer states that there are three parts to every mass shooting–the killer, the weapon, and the cultural climate.
The article points out:
Random mass killings were three times more common in the 2000s than in the 1980s, when gun laws were actually weaker. Yet a 2011 University of California at Berkeley study found that states with strong civil commitment laws have about a one-third lower homicide rate.
Regarding the weapon, Mr. Krauthammer states:
I have no problem in principle with gun control. Congress enacted (and I supported) an assault weapons ban in 1994. The problem was: It didn’t work. (So concluded a University of Pennsylvania study commissioned by the Justice Department.) The reason is simple. Unless you are prepared to confiscate all existing firearms, disarm the citizenry and repeal the Second Amendment, it’s almost impossible to craft a law that will be effective.
The article points out that over the past 30 years, the homicide rate in the United States has dropped 50 percent.
The article reminds us that gun violence is on the decline:
Except for these unfathomable mass murders. But these are infinitely more difficult to prevent. While law deters the rational, it has far less effect on the psychotic. The best we can do is to try to detain them, disarm them and discourage “entertainment” that can intensify already murderous impulses.
But there’s a cost. Gun control impinges upon the Second Amendment; involuntary commitment impinges upon the liberty clause of the Fifth Amendment; curbing “entertainment” violence impinges upon First Amendment free speech.
I tend to think that the fact that the murder rates are lower in states with strong civil commitment laws is significant. An article posted at The Blue Review on December 15th provides insight into what it is like to get appropriate treatment and possible restraint for a troubled child.
It’s time to look at all the elements of the tragedy at Newtown–not just the ones that are politically expedient.