Focus on proactive programs to fight gun violence

Al Phillips /


Published Jan 15, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Rarely do good solutions come from decisions laden with emotion. And solutions being offered to the type of terror attack in Connecticut have the earmarks of being prime examples.

Regardless, solutions are neither simple nor easy, and it’s very difficult to take a purely objective approach to solving or reducing such atrocities.

Current efforts to reduce the possibility of reoccurrence of the Connecticut horror focus on additional gun control and upgrading security in our schools, and there is merit in that thinking.

But media talking points include such quotes as from the NRA: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is by a good guy with a gun.”

Kill before being killed?

Surely we can find a better solution.

All steps to avoid mass murder have some merit I suppose, but a much more effective process would be a long-term, proactive approach; an approach, for instance, via our educational and media systems similar to the M.A.D.D. program model, or similar to how society is being continually warned about the dangers of smoking.

Neither drunk driving nor smoking has been eliminated, of course, nor will they be, but those educational efforts have proven to be effective in reducing incidences in both categories.

There are people, professional educators most notably, with the knowledge necessary to put such a program together and to monitor its effectiveness. Those people would need to be engaged in anti-violence campaigns, recognition of people with violent tendencies and what can be done about it, education focusing on the nonreality and the potential side effects of violence in make-believe entertainment — some movies and some video games come to mind — to name a few topics, then bringing together all the bits and pieces to ultimately develop an effective program.

And we all need to be partners in the effort; the firearms industry in particular. Thomas Sowell once said: “It’s hard to imagine a more stupid or dangerous way of making decisions than putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

And unless the firearms industry becomes a leader in the effort to reduce gun violence, its very existence may very well end up in the hands of Congress. If so, it will lose.

One aspect in this overall picture is the profit factor of the firearms industry. The proliferation of so-called “assault” weapons stems from a pointed effort roughly a decade ago to create new and lucrative markets both for the firearms industry and for the advertising business as well.

And it has worked for both.

It’s true that some technology that comes from the development of more effective military weapons has useful applications for hunting. And there are activities other than hunting that are safe and enjoyable with those types of weapons, too.

But on one occasion that I’m aware of, a well-known magazine writer who opposed the proliferation of assault-type weapons as being unnecessary for hunting, and wrote an article essentially saying so, suddenly found himself looking for a job — a result, in all likelihood, of the editors of that magazine being fearful of losing advertisement revenue from gun sales companies.

Profit motivations are a huge, necessary and genuinely positive benefit to our society. But in this one instance, in my view, that motivation has contributed to the very negative results we’ve seen entirely too often in the recent past.

Perhaps investing more of that profit into anti-gun-violence programs would be a positive benefit to society as well. I hope the firearms industry will consider doing so.

There are no easy answers, and effective results will be a long time in coming. But we must start. Hand-wringing, political posturing and worrisome commentary will get us nowhere.