Violence stems from more than lack of gun control

Justin Marinelli
Senior Writer

Since the horrific slaughter of innocent children in Newton, Conn., gun control has re-emerged as one of the most divisive and controversial political issues. I’m here to tell you that no matter what you think about gun control now, you may not know the entire story.

Part of the reason for this is that each side of the debate has its own merits. For example, according to most people supporting gun control, many mass shooters acquire their guns through legal means and having greater controls could have stopped them. Whereas those against gun control say some of these same shooters actually acquired their guns through illegal means and gun controls would have done nothing. See my point?

Once you get past the fact that the facts are often nuanced (and outright hard to verify), you have to contend with a great deal of wishful thinking. Again, both sides indulge in this.

The most popular cry among those in favor of gun control is to ban “assault rifles.” To them, this refers to semi-automatic rifles. This just means that once a bullet is fired, another is chambered and you can pull the trigger again and shoot (not that you can hold down the trigger and spray death everywhere). This constitutes 98 percent of all firearms (including pistols and other types of guns) in the United States, so this is hardly a unique feature. Still, even when you just look at semi-automatic rifles, the percentage of time they are used in crimes is small. In fact, more people die every year from being beaten to death by unarmed assailants than by being attacked by someone with an “assault rifle.”

Besides, in countries like China where ordinary citizens don’t have guns, they walk into schools with other weapons like knives. Banning guns won’t necessarily work. How about limiting magazine size to 10 rounds (seven if you live in New York)? Actually, 10-round magazines were the most common magazine size used in the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings. No comment needed.

Now those who oppose gun control also have their own facts that they tend to ignore. For example, in 2010, there were 600 accidental gun deaths and 14,000 accidental gun injuries recorded. If more people had guns, then that number is sure to go up simply because accidents happen. I agree this can be reduced by proper protocol, care and training, but people are only human and if gun control is loosened and more people have guns, then the inevitable conclusion is that accidents related to guns will be more numerous.

Additionally, humans are fickle. We are subject to powerful emotions that can overwhelm us at times. We get angry, we get drunk, we get depressed and we fight. Having guns around during these moments greatly increases the possibility of things going wrong. For example, households with guns in them have higher rates of suicide, simply because it’s a lot easier to kill yourself if you have an instrument designed to kill around than if you have to rely on other methods.

Following the idea that the arguments for both sides are flawed, one could argue that we’re at an optimal point. After all, if more control would do nothing, and more guns would lead to more deaths (granted, the number of lives saved by guns is hard to get a measure on, so it’s quite possible more guns could mean less overall deaths when things are accounted for), we must be set, right? I’d say hardly. The number of people with mental dysfunctions going crazy and killing innocents is way too high.

I’m personally inclined to skip gun debates, as I think they distract from the true causes of violence. New research indicates that environmental toxins like lead or trans fats can cause irregularities in the brain that can lead to violent behavior. Some psychiatrists have started to focus on the role of acute malnutrition, such as having slight deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium as a possible cause for sub-optimal brain activity. Still others point to sociological studies that show that as population density increases linearly, odd or erratic behavior increases exponentially, especially once you pass a certain point. It seems the true answer to solving the issue of gun violence rests not with the simple question of whether we should let people have easy access to guns or not, but in the complex machinations and workings of a machine far more complex than an AR-15: the human brain.

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