Acid tests for any proposed solution to mass shootings

In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings over the past weekend, politicians and pundits are already bloviating about the need for more gun control, and all the yadda-yadda-yadda we’ve become accustomed to hearing from them.  Mostly, they’re dancing in the blood of the victims, seeking to build their own support on the back of their suffering, and offering “solutions” that are nothing of the sort.

Of course, almost all the “solutions” being advanced are not “solutions” at all, because they focus on tools rather than individuals.  As I wrote back in 2009, after the Winnenden school shooting in Germany:  “Again and again and again, the instrument is not the cause of the problem; the instrument is not guilty of the problem; and banning the instrument won’t solve the problem!”  Go read that article for a more comprehensive treatment of the subject.

Here’s a very simple series of questions to ask about any proposal to “solve” the problem of mass shootings through gun control.

  1. Would the proposed solution have stopped the shooters in either of these incidents from obtaining a weapon and/or ammunition?  If so, how?  Be specific and practical in your answer.  If the proposed solution would only prevent the legal purchase of a firearm, but the perpetrator would still have been able to obtain one illegally (such as in the Sandy Hook school shooting, where the perpetrator stole the gun he used), then it will only be a minor inconvenience to him.  It won’t stop him.
  2. Would the perpetrators have been able to obtain a different weapon, in some other way, that would still have allowed them to wreak havoc?  If not a gun, what about gasoline to commit arson (as in the Happy Land attack), or knives to attack crowds (as, for example, in the 2017 London Bridge terrorist incident), or renting a heavy vehicle to ram it into a crowd (as in the Barcelona attacks of the same year)?  If the proposed solution doesn’t address those issues, then at best it answers only a small part of the problem.
  3. Would the proposed solution have prevented the shooters reaching their selected targets?  If so, how?  Be specific and practical in your answer.
  4. Would the proposed solution have stopped the perpetrators firing on their victims?  If so, how?
  5. If half or more of the above questions cannot be answered affirmatively, then why should we take the proposed solution seriously?

There are going to be lots of politicians arguing that we have to do something about the problem of mass shootings.  Mostly, they’re posturing.  What they should be saying is that we need to do something effective about the problem of mass shootings . . . and that’s a whole lot harder than merely pontificating.  If all they can do is bloviate and offer insincere, insubstantial, vague proposals that won’t actually solve the problem, they’re not worth your vote – or anyone else’s.  In fact, I’d take that as a good sign that they need to be turfed out of office as quickly as possible, and replaced by someone more honest and objective.

Talk is cheap.  Workable solutions are very, very hard, and may be impossible.  That’s reality.  Anyone who ignores that reality for political gain is pretty much a worthless human being, IMHO.



  1. An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. Robert A. Heinlein

    A local church encourages policemen to carry during services. The assistant pastor has a concealed carry permit. Open carry in church would present a hard target at the local community level.

  2. Verily, this is not a machinery problem. Machinery does not compel behavior. There are elements that do not want a solution, even if one were possible. They are willing to sacrifice innocents so that they have the problem to use in perpetuity.

  3. My proposal would be to make the autopsy photos of the perps public. And the ones that get taken alive? Hang 'em. Publicly. With special attention to what they look like dead and swinging.

    Make it look like the aftermath is the polar opposite of 'glamorous'.

  4. Most us know that firearms are not really the most "many people" efficient killing machines. Other machines are far more efficient, most of which are not regulated in any form. It's a political ruse.

    In a society generously sprinkled with directionless, unwanted, drug addled, feckless humans, mass killings will happen, no matter how well certain machines (guns, in this case) are limited or outright banned.

    By the way, in Chicago last weekend, 50+ people were shot, some shot dead. Not in the news because it was just a normal weekend there.

  5. Peter, your article has been forwarded to my congressional reps, Rep. John Rose (who actually supports – so far – the Constitution), Sen. Diane Black (who is a nurse who comes from a military family), and Sen. Lamar Alexander (who is . . . well, on his last term, anyway). I asked each of the three to pass it on to President Trump. Perhaps they even will. Now if all your readers were to do something similar . . .

  6. The solution is not removing the weapon of choice, but removing the insane people using them.

    Look for the insane ones in their online behavior and if need, commit them to the asylum.
    Keep any SJW from freeing them with some bleeding heart arguments.

    It won't stop such occurrences completely but will prevent quite a few.

  7. Having learned their lesson from the abject failure of the former Soviet Union's failure to establish the perfect communist state, the socialists recognize that in order to accomplish their agenda they must compel people to act against their human nature. The only way to achieve such a situation is to exert absolute control over the entire populace. No government can reach such a condition while the people are armed.
    It's common sense. It's for your own safety. And always it's for the children. All phrases intended to conceal the true goal, to establish a ruling class with the power to force the populace to do whatever they feel is needed whether the people want to or not. Gun control does not keep people safer. Law enforcement's legal duty is to protect society in general, not to ensure the safety of individual citizens. In the vast majority of incidents of mass shootings the law arrives after the fact, from minutes to sometimes hours later.
    It is incredibly disingenuous of the rabid gun control proponents to continue to put forward the farce that a sick person willing to commit murder would somehow just give up should they be denied the legal sale of a firearm. The subjects of Great Britain are finding this out to their regret. They have effectively banned nearly all firearms, and worse banned the use of lethal force in self defense. Have the audacity to harm a criminal in the formerly Great Britain and you will receive punishment at least as severe as they do.

  8. The shootings are only a symptom – not the problem. In the political world, the talking points are in responding to symptom's because of the obvious results. The real problem(s) which have been festering for a couple of generations now are (IMHO) kept hidden because that would destroy the possibility of correction. And, the problem is? I'll leave that up to you all out there to think this thing through if that is even possible at this point ……….. good luck …..

  9. Public mental hospitals in the US were deliberately destroyed by a radical lawyer at the ACLU in love with a crazy theory that there was no such thing as mental illness. His Alinsky-like campaign needed useful idiots; in this case were well-intentioned reformers from both parties who wanted reform of what they knew to be essential institutions but wound up wrecking it.

    It was a perfect storm. The looming prospect of a tactic of ever-increasing barrage of lawsuits filed by radical advocates for the rights of the mentally ill plus the advent of antipsychotic drugs plus rosy promises by psychiatrists who anticipated that the former inmates of the state hospitals would fill their new community mental health centers led to the dismantling of California's state mental hospitals – and the litigation and resulting legislation made civil commitment very difficult.

    The result is a structure of local, state, and federal legislation and over a half century of case law at the state and federal level that will be very difficult to change – and a proven tactic of lawfare that will make any attempt to do so prohibitively expensive.

    Clayton Cramer's My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill describes how this came to be.

  10. Bat-Guano said…

    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. Robert A. Heinlein

    I agree with this in principal, but I'll point out that El Paso is in one of the most gun friendly states and there were not enough citizens with guns in the area to stop him (or deter him)

    Now, as a practical matter, this may be because there were a low percentage of citizens in the area period, and it may be that the mexican-american culture doesn't encourage legal carrying of guns, but we should acknowledge that this approach didn't work in this case.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *