GUN CONTROL?? WHAT ABOUT ABSENT FATHERS?
Do we want to solve gun violence, or do we just want to engage in useless bluster?
Whenever a terrible shooting takes place, in Toronto, or an American city, the gun control enthusiasts rush to the podium to bang their fist and display their anger.
Recently, US President, Barack Obama reacting to the mass shooting in Oregon that left nine people dead, said: “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up.
He meant gun laws.
But another display of emotion won’t make gun control work.
The guns are not the problem, but they are an easy target, and politicians, like water, seek the easy course.
If gun control worked, Chicago would not experience the violence that it does. If gun control worked, the Toronto Sun would not have reported, in mid-July, that “The 227 shooting victims so far this year are 31 more than the total for all of 2014.””
Toronto and Chicago have gun control. Murder is also ‘controlled’. It is illegal! The problem is deeper and more complicated than the tool that is used. But it is politically correct to blame the gun. It is less so, and therefore fraught with political danger, to talk about family breakdown.
An article in The Federalist by Peter Hasson notes: “Violence? There’s a direct correlation between fatherless children and teen violence. Suicide? Fatherless children are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. Dropping out of school? 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless families. Drug use? According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”
How about guns? Two of the strongest correlations with gun homicides are, growing up in a fatherless household and dropping out of school, which is itself directly related to lack of an active or present father.
So what can we do to encourage young people to avoid single parenthood and to encourage responsible fatherhood? How do we keep young men from having to search for belonging and acceptance from other young men in a gang?
We should be as critical of the choices that lead to kids having babies as we are of guns, but politicians mostly recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they try this approach.
What about mental health? Are we willing to address that issue? In theory the people are, but are politicians willing to make the necessary choices in priorities, and are we willing to stop putting money into parties like the Pan Am Games, and instead, adequately fund mental health programs?
Too many things have already gone wrong before a young man picks up a gun and attacks his fellow human beings with the intent to kill. It’s a good thing to talk about fathers, mental health, conflict resolution, employment, mentoring, or whatever anyone can come up with towards achieving the common goal of ending gun violence.
The people whose first, and often only ‘solution’, is more gun control, when it clearly doesn’t work, are not to be taken seriously. Murder is illegal, and most guns used in shootings are illegally held under present gun laws. We want young people to grow up, so let’s be grown-up about real solutions.
With many thanks to Gerry Agar, a Toronto Sun columnist and radio talk-show host, for some interesting and lucid thoughts about guns and social violence.