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Is Strict Gun Control the Best Way to Prevent Shootings?

By: Guest Contributor - Jun 30, 2015, 3:39 pm

Brady Background Checks Save Lives

By Jonathan Hutson

Every day in the United States, 89 people are killed with guns. Most of these tragedies can be prevented by keeping guns out of the wrong hands through common-sense solutions supported by the vast majority of US Americans.

Right now, in most of our nation, a convicted felon, a domestic abuser, a fugitive, or someone who has been judged dangerously mentally ill can walk into a gun show, or go online, and buy a gun with no questions asked — without a Brady background check. This is unacceptable.

Since the Brady Law was passed with bipartisan support in 1994, 2.4 million dangerous people have been blocked from buying guns. So a simple solution is for the US Congress to expand Brady background checks to all gun sales in order to prevent millions of guns from winding up in dangerous hands.

This is an issue of public health and safety, on which the vast majority of US Americans agree. Ninety percent of the public, including 85 percent of gun owners, support the expansion of life-saving Brady background checks to all gun sales.

So people from all states and political parties are signing our #IamCharleston: “I Demand a Vote NOW” petition, demanding that Congress “finish the job” by voting immediately in support of legislation to expand Brady background checks to all gun sales.

Every day that Congress fails to act, more guns get into dangerous hands, and every day, more lives are lost as a result. We also need to do more to stop “bad-apple” gun dealers — the 5 percent of dealers who knowingly or negligently supply 90 percent of the crime guns in our nation.

Through organizing protests in front of “bad-apple” gun-dealer stores, and through legal advocacy, Brady is pressuring the “bad apples” to either adopt a reasonable and ethical Code of Conduct, or be shut down.

But policy solutions are not our only focus. We know that every day in the United STates, nine kids are shot unintentionally. So through our ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign, we’re educating parents about the risks of unsafe access to guns in the home, and how to mitigate those risks. In two-thirds of school shootings, the gun comes from the home of the attacker or a relative, including the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut.

One in three homes with children in the US have guns, many unlocked and loaded. So one simple, life-saving question that every parent should ask before their kids have a playdate is whether there are unlocked guns where their kids play.

Through simple, common-sense solutions, supported by nearly all US Americans, including the vast majority of gun owners, the Brady Campaign plans to realize the audacious but achievable goal of cutting gun deaths in half in the United States by 2025.

Jonathan Hutson, J.D. is a communications strategist and former investigative journalist. He works as chief communications officer for the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, DC. Follow @jonhutson.

Gun Control Helps Shooters, Not Victims

By John Lott
EspañolWith just two exceptions, since at least 1950, all the mass public shootings in the United States have occurred in so-called gun-free zones, places where citizens can’t have guns for protection. Gun-free zones are rare in the United States, but those are the places where these killers go time after time.

There is a reason why every city or country around the world that has banned guns has seen its murder rates rise. Law-abiding citizens, not criminals, obey these bans. Instead of making places safer, disarming law abiding citizens left them sitting ducks.

The vast majority of mass public shooters in the United States kill people to get attention. They want to commit suicide, but they want to do so in a way that will get them attention, so people will know that they have been here. The more people that they can kill, the more attention they will receive.

Mass public killers constantly talk about finding places where their victims are easy targets. This month’s killer of nine people at a Charleston church initially considered targeting the College of Charleston, but decided against it because it had security personnel.

Last June, Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in Santa Barbara, California, explained his own choice. In his 141-page “manifesto,” Rodger turned down targets because he worried that someone with a gun would stop his killing spree.

That same month, Justin Bourque in Canada shot three people to death. His Facebook page made fun of gun bans, with pictures of defenseless victims explaining to killers that they weren’t allowed to have guns.

The diary of the Aurora, Colorado, Batman movie-theater killer, James Holmes, was just released a month ago. He was considering both attacking an airport and a movie theater, but he turned down the airport option because of their “substantial security.” Out of the seven theaters showing the Batman movie premiere within 20 minutes of Holmes’s apartment, only one banned permitted concealed handguns. He didn’t go to the closest nor the largest, but to the one that banned self-defense.

Wanting easy targets is understandable. There is a long list of mass public shootings that have been stopped by citizens with permitted concealed handguns; though when people stop these attacks, they don’t get much media attention.

With mass public shooters planning these attacks for at least six months in advance, attackers have plenty of time to figure out how to obtain a gun. Background checks rarely work. The terrorists who attacked France in January were armed with numerous semi-automatic handguns, automatic Kalashnikov rifles, an M42 rocket launcher, 10 Molotov cocktails, 10 smoke grenades, a hand grenade, and 15 sticks of dynamite. So much for the country’s ban on all these items.

Despite strict gun control, seven European countries have a higher death rate from mass public shootings than the United States.

Ask yourself: would you feel safer with a sign on your home saying “this house is a gun-free zone”? But if you wouldn’t put these signs on your home, why put them elsewhere?

John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, and the author of More Guns, Less Crime. Follow @JohnRLottJr.

Is Strict Gun Control the Best Way to Prevent Shootings?