Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms

No amount of gun restriction legislation will ever fix the society that breeds the killer. And the killer couldn’t care less about your gun restriction legislation.

After Las Vegas, the debate on gun control woke up from its dormancy, reared its ugly, thick head, and sent activists from both sides of the political spectrum on a crusade to fight for their respective ideologies and parties. With words and phrases like “evil,” “terrible” and other overblown rhetoric used to describe firearms being tossed around as often as Donald Trump says “China,” the argument on both sides is becoming less and less centered around the facts and focused more on feelings.

I’m here to tell you two things: the facts say gun control legislation will do virtually nothing to combat mass murder, and the facts don’t care about anyone’s feelings. You may consider the gun control issue nuanced, multifaceted and complicated. I don’t.

What do you do when you contract strep throat? Do you compulsively consume cough drops until you feel better, or do you visit your doctor and get a prescription of antibiotics? What do you do when you have a rock stuck in your shoe? Do you take frequent breaks from standing to tolerate the pain of walking on it, or do you take off your shoe and remove the rock? What do you do when hundreds of innocent lives are being threatened and taken by domestic attacks? Do you command clueless congressmen to write pointless legislation restricting the legal channels that can be used to purchase a weapon, only to be circumnavigated by criminals using illegal means to acquire weaponry, or do you treat the causes of the issue, mental illness and a divided, bitter society, through mental health care reform and societal change?

Looks pretty simple now, doesn’t it?

You’ve heard it before, but I’m bringing it up anyway. Chicago has some of the most extreme anti-firearm laws in the country, and they have some of the highest gun-related homicide rates. They may not have the highest rates per capita, but that doesn’t discount the magnitude of the 3,550 shooting incidents that occurred in the city in 2016 alone.

I’m not about to assert that strict gun laws increase gun violence, but they definitely don’t do much to stop it, according to the numbers. If you want a gun in Chicago, drive down to Indiana and pick one up. Their gun laws are much more libertarian than that of Chicago, and nobody is going to stop you from driving over the border of the two states.

Let’s take it a step further. What if we ban all guns in the country? We round up all legally registered guns from every gun owner and decommission them. That fixes our problem, right? Oh, if only.

There are three key ingredients here that will keep gun homicides going strong, regardless of the legality of firearms in the United States. First, illegal gun owners will not give up their guns, because they don’t have to. Big brother doesn’t know they exist. There isn’t paperwork on these firearms, so nobody has to hand them over. These are sold to people with malevolent intent on the black market, and shootings ensue.

Second, we are bordered by Canada and Mexico, two countries with plenty of firearms to go around. We have border amnesty with Canada, meaning that anyone can drive right over the border into the U.S., and the customs agents aren’t that hard to fool. If you ask someone like Pablo Escobar, you’ll know that there are plenty of ways to get things from Mexico to the U.S. without the authorities noticing. Guns can and will come from our North American neighbors, and criminals will do what they do without interruption.

Third, let’s not forget that we are operating under the blatantly false assumption that mass murder will simply halt with the eradication of firearms. I implore you to think back to the Boston Marathon of 2013. Remember how that turned out? Yeah, people died. A lot of them. And there were ZERO firearms used in the attack. It doesn’t take a chemist to figure out how to build a pipe-bomb either, and all of the materials are conveniently located down the street at your local home depot. Just ask the IRA.

What if we go all the way? What if we theoretically ban the production and ownership of firearms in the entire world?

An English gentleman by the name of Phillip A. Luty was a gun rights advocate in England during a period of firearm restriction in the 1990s. His argument against the British government was that, despite banning firearms, the banning of the knowledge used to create firearms is impossible. To prove this point, Luty took a casual stroll down to his local hardware store, bought a few construction materials, and built a fully-functioning 9mm blowback submachine gun in his garage by himself. He subsequently published a book titled Expedient Homemade Firearms detailing this process to anyone with the desire to read it.

This man built a fully-functional, fully-automatic submachine gun from scratch using zero parts from other firearms by himself in his garage. So what’s to stop the next mentally unstable perpetrator from building his own firearm when he can’t get one anywhere else? The knowledge cannot be banned, therefore the product of the knowledge cannot be eliminated.

So it’s settled, then. We’re stuck with guns, whether we like it or not. What in the world can we do to fix this thing? Here’s an idea: treat the cause.

Look back on every mass shooting in history. There are exactly two kinds of people that commit them: the mentally unstable and those willing to murder for their political or religious agendas ― which can arguably be considered a mental illness in and of itself. This is what we need to pour our taxpayer money into fixing. This is what is driving people to the brink, giving them the impulse to destroy human life on the largest scale possible. This is what media loves to ignore while they tout their polarizing messages, fueling the culture that produces these men and women who are willing to indiscriminately kill for the sake of their own ideals.

If you really want to solve this problem, make psychiatry an integral part of wellness checkups. Make therapy more affordable. Get rid of this toxic us-versus-them political climate that has been destroying us from the inside for decades. We’re all on the same team, but it seems that some people have forgotten that.

No amount of gun restriction legislation will ever fix the society that breeds the killer. And the killer couldn’t care less about your gun restriction legislation.