After every mass shooting, and there are far too many of them, the knee-jerk reaction of politicians is to call for more gun control in the belief that guns cause crime. There are proposals, among other things, that even gun transactions between private individuals be subject to a background check on the buyer. Actually, most of the mass shooters either passed a background check or obtained the weapon from a family member who did.
I spent nearly 30 years auctioning millions of dollars’ worth of guns while working for an auction house with a federal firearms license. There was rarely a buyer who could not pass the required background check for the simple reason that people who can’t pass it don’t normally place themselves in that position.
If you fall for the false belief that guns are the cause of crime, let me take you back about 60 years and make some comparisons.
The 60th anniversary of my appointment to the LPD will be here in a about four months. At that time, things were a lot different. I remember patrolling in a cruiser on the 3-11 pm shift on a hot summer night and hoping for a radio call in order to have something to do besides look for traffic violations.
At that time, most family units were headed by a male figure, and discipline was enforced both in the home and in schools. Illegal drugs were rarely seen, and people with severe mental illness were not turned loose with crossed fingers in hope that they would take their meds. A sitting vice president, running for president, visited Lima and was driven in an open convertible from the train to the Public Square. He then walked to the speaker’s platform through a packed crowd that was totally unchecked for security.
The Bible and the 10 commandments — the basis for our system of laws — were taught in public schools. No one ever thought of disrespecting the American flag. Authority was respected, and people actually often cared about other people’s feelings.
Most interesting to me is that back then guns were far easier to get; there were virtually no restrictions on gun purchases. An adult could walk into any hardware or chain store and purchase a gun as easily as you could buy a sack of nails — no paperwork, no background check and no problem. You could buy a gun by mail order from another state, and have it shipped directly to you — something that is not possible today despite the totally misleading allegations to the contrary seen regularly in the media. No background check was required until the 1993 Brady Act, which was another knee-jerk reaction.
With guns both plentiful and easy to purchase, why were there far fewer mass shootings prior to these two major gun control acts? Is there another cause besides the guns and their alleged easy availability? The answer to these questions is really quite simple. People — not guns — cause mass shootings and people today are far different than they were 50 years ago.
Today we have police officers rushing from call to call, many of them because some snowflake had his feelings hurt. We have countless fatherless homes, rampant drug use, and the unproven belief that discipline in just about any form is harmful to a child. We have a society with a widely-held belief by individuals that anything that they disagree with or hurts their feelings should be outlawed, but anything they like should be permitted. Civil disobedience and disdain for government are often taught and encouraged in college classes. A presidential candidate requires more security precautions for one visit than even a president back then probably saw in a month.
It is ludicrous for anyone to say that guns cause crime, when actually the societal changes, brought on primarily by the liberal ideology that has been growing for last 50-odd years, are the major cause of today’s mess. Unfortunately, with the growing number of brainwashed young people accepting even socialism as being a good thing, the situation may only get worse.
The Brady Act and its background checks did not stop gun violence, and expansion of it won’t either. The only thing that will stop it is a change in the mind-set of the public. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that.
Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. He writes a guest column for The Lima News, often focusing on police matters.