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Harris Sherline: Focus on Gun Control Rather Than on Shooters Is Just Crazy

The Dec. 14, 2012, senseless shooting of students and teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in which 27 people, including 20 children, were killed, has already prompted calls for increased “gun control,” including the outright confiscation of all guns.

But are guns really the problem? I don’t think so.

Since the unfortunate shooting, the media have been blanketed with endless speculation about the shooter. Why did he do it? What was there in his background that turned him into a killer? Blame his mother, the school administration, health-care professionals, the police and, above all, the lack of national, state and local gun-control laws. In other words, the media and most commentators seem to be focusing primarily on guns, rather on the one simple, easy-to-understand the reason for this terrible tragedy: the shooter. In short, the guy was simply unhinged, crazy.

Are we now going to lock up every nut case whom we think may be a risk to others? If so, how do we identify them, and who decides? I have known people whom I felt could become violent enough to shoot a neighbor over seemingly unimportant issues. We never know what might set someone off, and I don’t know of any way to predict it.

But gun-control advocates insist that this latest incident (in Connecticut) is clearly due to the fact that guns are the problem.

Following are the headlines of some of the many articles that have flooded the media since the advent of the shooting:

» “Once Again, the Guns Did It and It’s the Conservatives’ Fault” (MinuteMenNews.com)

» “Breaking the Gun Control Stalemate” (Wall Street Journal)

» “Taking on Guns Will Be the Easy Part” (BernardGoldberg.com)

» “Geraldo Rivera (Sort of) Admits: Guns Needed in Schools” (ClashDaily.com)

» “Feinstein to Introduce Assault Weapons Ban at Start of Next Congress” (Vision to America)

» “Piers Morgan on Gun Control: ‘How Many Kids Have to Die?’” (Los Angeles Times)

» “Shooting After Shooting, What Do We Have Left?” (Last Resistance Blog)

» “High Court Fight Looms Over Right to Carry a Gun” (Associated Press)

» “Time for U.S. to Cure Its Sick Gun Laws” (The Globe and Mail)

» “The Solution to Our Nation’s ‘Gun Problem’” (Political Outcast)

» “New Rule: All Teachers Should Be Allowed to Carry Guns” (ClashDaily.com)

» “Left Mobilizes to Politicize School Shooting” (Rush Limbaugh)

» “New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg moved to politicize … school shooting” (Breitbart)

» “Slaughter Triggers Media Push for Gun Control” (WND.com)

» “How to Respond to ‘Active Shooter’ Spree Murder Events” (Patriot Update)

“The proposed solution to the problem ranges from confiscating all guns from every American to doing nothing. However, we are the only nation that enshrines the right of its citizens to own guns in its founding document, in this case the Second Amendment to our Constitution, which ’ ... protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.’ It was adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess and carry firearms.” (Wikipedia)

All of which brings me back to the question of whether the problem of the random shooting of people by deranged individuals can be prevented by confiscating guns, assuming that’s possible. I doubt it, for the simple reason that no one has yet been able to determine in advance just who is a risk and who is not.

In my opinion, the periodic shooting of unarmed citizens is often caused by people who are simply mentally unbalanced or “crazy.” Nothing more. There are other motives, of course, such as during the commission of a crime or lovers’ quarrels. But the incidents that seem to get the most media coverage are the random shootings.

I don’t know of any way to identify them in advance and keep guns out of their reach. Just thinking that someone might be a risk to others is not sufficient reason to lock them up. If that were the case, I can think of a lot of people who might qualify as such a “risk.”

How about you?

— Harris Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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