The Dec. 7 editorial “Tackle gun violence like other public health problems” misses the point.
Violence is the public health problem, not guns. Guns are only a symptom. As has been often repeated, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Guns don't commit suicide, people commit suicide. Taking away guns will not prevent murder, suicide or other violence. Strict gun control in Chicago and Baltimore has failed to diminish the homicide rate significantly. What has worked are programs like CeaseFire in Chicago, Operation Ceasefire in Boston and Project Exile in Richmond, Va. These programs address youth violence by stopping illicit gun trafficking and gang violence.
For decades, we have been immersing our children in violence. Movies and television glorify violence, including violence with guns. We have created a culture that promotes and esteems violence. Violence is “cool.”
Mass shootings by religious fanatics and psychopaths are horrific, but limiting gun ownership by law-abiding citizens will not stop these attacks. Our borders are porous. Even if guns were nonexistent in America, those who pass through our borders without difficulty would also find firearms without difficulty.
There are estimated to be over 310 million guns in private hands in the U.S. Approaching the problem at that level is not feasible. Prohibiting American gun ownership is also unconstitutional. Gun owners are no more likely to give up their constitutional right to own and bear arms than the media is likely to accept a ban on their constitutional right to produce violently graphic TV series or movies.
We should approach violence as a public health issue the same way we approached tobacco, but not expect rapid improvement. The link between cigarettes and lung cancer was made in the 1950s, yet we still sell cigarettes, which have no redeeming value. We could certainly make tobacco illegal in America, but we haven't because it would violate constitutional rights (and would not work). What we have done right with tobacco (and should do to address violence) is change the culture. It is not “cool” to smoke anymore. We have stopped glorifying it in the media. It should not be cool to be violent. We should stop glorifying violence.
The one comment made that I do agree with is that America may have lost its moral compass. Prohibiting legal gun ownership will not change that.