Guns Don’t Kill People, Opportunity Does

Following the massacre of concert goers in Las Vegas on Sunday, many commentators are calling for all sorts of initiatives to be launched as well as, or instead of, the introduction of serious gun control in the USA. I wonder if these extra proposals are nothing more than a smokescreen designed to take the pressure of those whose defence of unregulated and easy gun ownership is becoming increasingly untenable.

Furthermore, I wonder if the people of the USA are any different to people in the rest of the world. There are a heck of a lot of Americans, over three hundred and twenty million of them. Statistically speaking, each year a few of that multitude are going to decide, sanely or insanely, that killing a whole load of people is the right thing to do. It would not surprise me if the percentage is pretty much the same for every three hundred and twenty million people wherever they live in the world. However, throughout most of the world, people do not have the opportunity to build up an arsenal of weapons easily and legally; in fact, in most countries, it is very difficult to obtain anything more than a basic shotgun for hunting and, even that, would require a thorough background check and a licence. You would certainly not be allowed to own an automatic weapon or carry a gun in public. This means that the proportion of the population who are potential mass killers, outside of the USA, is very much restricted in being able to carry out a massacre. Some will kill their families, maybe a friend or two, or a few strangers, with a knife or other such weapon, but most will be so put off by the difficulty of carrying out their plans that they look for a different, less murderous outlet for their existential angst.

Much as more, easily available help for the mentally ill is universally a good and necessary thing, it would make very little difference in the USA in respect of lessening the number of mass shootings. The chances of even a revitalised, heavily funded mental health service identifying the very few members of the huge population who may be prone to killing a whole load of strangers are extremely low.

Potential mass killers are everywhere, not only in America. But, only in America is there the opportunity for potential mass killers to live out their fantasies. Only the removal of military style guns from public ownership and the heavy restriction of hunting and sporting guns will reduce the number of mass killings in the USA. All other suggestions, however worthy, would be spitting in the wind.

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