Ken Johnson
Grand Junction Free Press Opinion Columnist

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December 27, 2012
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JOHNSON: An epidemic of ignorance when it comes to gun control

"Gun control" was the instant cry even before the Connecticut police finished securing the Newtown school after that tragic slaughter. Our media experts were all over the idea that here was another horrible example of why we need to ban guns in America.

The president chimed in, reminding us that this catastrophe was "enough." It is time to do something to end gun violence.

Not that it makes any difference in the political message, but for contrast note the presidential daughters are in no danger of a madman attacking their school; they are protected by gun-toting security via Secret Service agents, the same as mom and dad. Also note that those who will help lead the effort to control guns, like the mayors of New York and Chicago, are surrounded by ARMED bodyguards.

The best part of the pres' message is that he is right. Just don't count on anything smart to come from it. It's going to be political oatmeal, badly overcooked.

I mean, to appoint Vice President Joe Biden to walk something meaningful through Congress? Come on, this is the guy who led us to the ban on "assault weapons" that expired. And these "assault weapons" are not what we're constantly told. They are one-shot-at-a-time rifles, called semi-automatic, that look like military automatics.

Back to gun control. Does it mean banning guns? Or to somehow find a way for the federal government to control their use? A "TSA" for gun regulation? Does the "government" successfully control very much? Like the endless flow of illegal drugs? Our borders? Does it control where guns go, such as that brilliant "Fast and Furious" program to ship guns to Mexico and then catch the bad guys?

Despite our highly paid and skillful media voices, like that of Dianne Sawyer on ABC, we don't have an epidemic of gun violence. We have an epidemic of freely expressed ignorance as the answer to a complex problem. We have an epidemic of bad reporting and knee-twitch opinions, stated as fact. We have what amounts to a continued media manipulation of our minds.

So can we try a short list of ideas that seems to resonate?

1. Turn off your TV set and your computer and think.

2. There is no such thing as a SAFE "gun-free" zone. Those signs proclaiming the same are a roadmap to easy prey. The knowledge that NO guns are permitted means the whack jobs who decide to kill can easily find the unprotected. The armed police are eight minutes away at best.

A friend shared that some years ago, two famed economists, William Landes at the University of Chicago and John Lott at Yale, conducted a massive study of multiple victim public shootings in the U.S. between 1977 and 1995 to see how various legal changes affected their frequency and death toll. Conclusion one is that gun-free zones don't work.

3. Tougher gun laws don't seem to work. Connecticut has some of the most stringent laws in the nation. Didn't work. Illinois has REALLY tough gun controls. Something around 500 have died of gunshots in Chicago alone this year. It isn't working. We're likely to get these tougher rules, but they're an illusion. Don't bet your life on them working.

4. Follow the NRA suggestion and put armed and trained police in every public school. Golly, this would even provide full employment.

5. Toss the "gun free" zones and start pushing concealed-carry permits for teachers and school personnel. Make sure everyone is trained fully in what it means to point a gun at someone. Texas seems to be making it work well! Well, of course, that doesn't count because it's Texas, not New York!

The Landes/Lott study concluded that only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws. It also said the effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally. Mass killers may be crazy, but they're not stupid.

Someone planning to commit a single murder in a concealed-carry state only has to weigh the odds of one person being armed. But a criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that everyone in the entire area might have a gun.

6. Spend some money and thought on seeking out the mental health problems, the kids raised on the "fun" of killing people and things with their computer games, and others who are, sadly, dysfunctional.

7. And develop a sense of responsibility, once again, in our land; let's have universal military service so everyone knows how to use a gun for self-defense. And knows the penalty for misuse. The Swiss do it. It works. The Israelis do it. It works.

Ken is founder of the Grand Junction Free Press and former owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel. He spends his time between the Grand Valley and California.

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The Post Independent Updated Dec 27, 2012 01:24PM Published Dec 27, 2012 01:23PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.