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A day doesn’t go by without the news of someone dying to gun violence in the United States, sadly enough. What adds insult to injury is the immediate co-opting of those tragedies to, with a little massaging, be plugged into one’s pre-existing narrative concerning what we should do about it. This happens on both sides of the debate, of course, but the recent murder of an Australian baseball player and a thankfully bloodless school shooting have offered more “ammo” to the anti-gun crowd than the pro-gun perspective.

At first glance, both incidents would seem to offer nothing but arguments that we should be much more vigilant about who has guns and why. Senseless murder and narrowly averted tragedy will do that. I do think, however, that these two incidents suggest courses of action that are not so obvious and that are less about guns and more about circumstance.

The death of Christopher Lane is a thing to be mourned, no argument. However, this was a killing carried out by three teen boys. There is no law that allowed any of them to own or carry a firearm. There is likely no law that would have prevented their damnable actions. They also did this with a .22 revolver, one of the least objectionable sorts of firearms available.

While chat boards filled up with cries of “What’s wrong with America”, I saw all the focus on guns and not what we can do to curb violence amongst and by teens beyond suggestions we remove firearms from the hands of adults. We have a prime example of a place where laws exist to prevent this sort of crime and are proven ineffective, yet people wish to suggest that what would be even more effective is more laws.

Even if firearms were banned from private ownership, there’s no real reason we would not see killings just like this one for decades (as ammunition became harder to locate) if ever (as no one is suggesting disarming police officers and military personnel, which would be necessary to prevent guns getting into the the wrong hands still). Rather than address what drives the trade of illegal firearms in metropolitan areas, impotent cries for boycotting tourism were uttered.

The averted atrocity in Decatur would seem to be a more straightforward situation bolstering the arguments for disarmament, as it was an assault weapon carrying adult who was thankfully talked into laying down arms (and inadvertently giving Wayne LaPierre a well deserved slap in the face for asserting stupid things about “good guys with guns”). The issue here, however, is that this guy was, by his own confession, off his medication which he was taking for bi-polar disorder. The question here isn’t the reasonable ownership of assault weapons, per se, but why he wasn’t caught by a background check. This man likely should not have owned firearms in any legal way, much less the ones he did.

[EDIT: Turns out this had nothing to do with background checks as he did not purchase his firearm and he was a felon, in addition to any mental health prohibitions he might have had]

Expanded background checks are a gun control talking point, but a much more reasonable and relevant one than “ban assault weapons”, a thing that bloggers called for before classes restarted.

I maintain there are things we can do to curb violence of all sorts and gun violence in specific, but I think it will take looking at situations objectively rather than simply saying “ban them” before the smoke clears. It does, however, require the stickier task of holding one’s opinions until the facts are known, a think we’ve grown too impatient to do. At least on the internet.

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