Op-Ed: Gun Violence in America — What Won’t Work
by Joe Squadrito
I don’t think that anyone will dispute that gun violence has become all too prevalent in this country. It matters not where you live big city or small rural community each and every American faces the same threat and has the same sense of shock and dismay each time such incidents occur. Will it be my church, my school, my shopping center or my neighborhood next? These are realistic concerns that each of us share and rightfully so.
Some have suggested remedies ranging from the extreme — gun control and the outlawing of individual gun ownership to a limit on sales, ammunition capacity and related firearms accessories. More modest proposals suggest measures such as uniform background check criteria. All are made with the best of intentions with respect to public safety. Some should be considered provided they do not infringe on our Second Amendment rights. I am of the opinion that we, the law abiding, have given up enough of our civil liberties as a result of the acts of criminals and in the interest of “public safety.”
Let’s take a look at some of these proposals:
- The restriction on the sale and possession of firearms would create more problems than it would solve. First, it would create a black market and back-alley transactions that would rival Prohibition with Al Capone-type bootleggers importing firearms and selling them to anyone with the money.
- Without individual background records checks and no registration, the majority of illicit weapons would end up in the hands of thugs. The police would have no way of tracing these weapons should they be confiscated during or after apprehension. (Even though we have prohibitions in place on illicit drugs, we live with the devastation of these substances and the cartels that import and distribute them.)
- We must also consider the ramifications of requiring all citizens to surrender their weapons voluntarily or involuntarily with sanctions for none compliance. Those individuals who do not comply with the mandate would find some government official, warrant in hand, knocking on their front door. You can imagine the resources, manpower and litigation this would generate.
All of us have heard the expression that: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” True as this may be, guns are a quick and easy way to kill either one individual or many. But take away the guns and I assure you that an individual bent on killing will find another means.
Knives, clubs or any other device capable of inflicting trauma, will be the immediate substitute. Many of our mass killings were explosive devices created with household products readily available at the home and garden center. Other incidents of mass murders involve trucks. If you don’t own one, you simply rent one.
The genesis of this problem is not the instrumentality of death and destruction but the mindset of the perpetrator. This problem is a societal problem as much as a police problem. We must realize that restrictive laws and law enforcement cannot in and of themselves prevent these horrific crimes. The mental health community must become an critical part of our entire criminal justice system and our educational system as well.
To summarize, we cannot accept violence as a part of the contemporary American way of life. We must insist that our schools, our churches and streets are safe for everyone. We must realize that there will be individuals who for some unknown reason commit acts of violence that no one anticipated or can explain. Predicting human behavior is not by any means a science. For as the old radio theme goes: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man.”
Joseph M. Squadrito, an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, is retired from the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. Squadrito served with the department for 33 years, rising through the ranks before serving two terms as sheriff. He is a graduate of the charter class of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy as well as the F.B.I. National Academy, the United States Secret Service Academy and the Southern Police Institute.