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A week ago, the then-one-week-old shooting in Buffalo, New York was appalling. It’s been superseded by this week’s shooting in Uvalde, Texas. In Buffalo the victims were targeted because of their race. More people died In Uvalde than in Buffalo, and all but one were school children.

Who targets school children?

Last week I cited experts who say anger, not hate, is the root cause of most mass shootings. This week’s perpetrator, allegedly an 18-year-old high school student, was, we’ve learned, a loner and high school dropout who was subjected to frequent ridicule and bullying.

Seems to fit. If you’re the parent of a teenager, let them know that, given a choice between taunting classmates and vaping, vaping is the safer choice.

Hell, heroin might be a safer choice.

Once again we’re hearing the same, tired old reasons we can’t, or shouldn’t, do anything about gun violence. I have no choice but to write about this. The why-not memes are, at this point, tired. I’ll try to avoid boring you with the same tired old memes on why we can and should.

Do-nothing meme #1: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

They do. 79 percent of the time, the people who killed people killed them with a gun.

Do-nothing meme #2: Thoughts and prayers.

If thoughts and prayers were of any value, by now we’d be seeing fewer mass shootings, not more of them.

Do-nothing meme #3: Relatively few gun fatalities are the result of mass shootings.

This might mean something if those who make this point continued by suggesting ways to curb other forms of gun violence. But they don’t.

Do-nothing meme #4a: If guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns.

That would mean children wouldn’t have guns. I’m thinking this would be a net improvement. I couldn’t find any statistics on the subject. Google did deliver some headlines, though, all variations on a theme. A sampling:

Toddler Shoots Playmates At Michigan Daycare

6-Year-Old Shot by Playmate, 4, in Critical Condition

5-year-old killed in Lithonia home was shot by playmate

Girl, 8, Is Killed as Playmates Imitate Film’s Shooting Scene

Boy, 4, shoots and kills playmate, 6

A four-year-old boy in New Jersey has shot dead a playmate aged six with a .22-calibre rifle in what police have said was an accident.

Prince. George’s shooting involves 4- and 5-year-old playmate

US boy (4) shoots playmate (6) dead

Three-year-old boy shot by playmate in Washington state – police

Do-nothing meme #4b: If guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns.

I guess nothing should be illegal, then. For example: If drunk driving is illegal, only drunks will drive. Or something.

Do-nothing meme #4c: If guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns.

Nobody is suggesting making guns illegal. It is, however, tempting to make strawman arguments illegal.

Do-nothing meme #5: [Solution] won’t stop all shootings, for all values of [Solution].

As always, perfect is the enemy of better. Just because a proposed course of action won’t fix everything that doesn’t mean it won’t improve the situation.

Do-nothing meme #6: District of Columbia v. Heller guarantees the individual’s right to “bear arms.”

When does it stop being an “arms”? I mean, if assault weapons are arms so far as Heller is concerned, are Molotov cocktails okay too? How about hand grenades? Rocket launchers? Tanks?

Do-nothing meme #7: The solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

And when the good guy with a gun isn’t properly trained, shoots anyway, and misses the bad guy with a gun, where do you think the good guy’s bullet ends up?

Bob’s last word: I try to limit KJR to subjects about which I have some expertise, and which you, as a business leader or IT professional might find useful. I hadn’t planned on a second column about mass shootings in as many weeks.

But I really had no choice.

I expect some subscribers will write this off as just more evidence, as if any were needed, that “Bob’s liberal bias is showing.” Maybe it is. If so, I’d be interested to know what of the above is characteristically liberal, or antithetical to conservative political philosophy.

Bob’s sales pitch: I’ve got nothing this week that’s worth selling. Instead, if your senators and congressional representatives might be influenced by what their voters want them to do … even if it’s just a little … then please take the time to write them. Gun control laws will only get passed if legislators think voting for them won’t get them voted out of office.

Or, more to the point, if legislators think not voting for gun control laws will get them voted out of office.

# # #

I’m sending this out early because I’m planning to take the Memorial Day weekend off. And if you find this foray into public policy annoying, rest assured it’s temporary. When I’m back in the saddle a week from next Monday, KJR will once again be about keeping your joint running.

Comments (31)

  • Amen. The idea that an 18 year old high school dropout can buy two military assault weapons is absurd.

    Perhaps people with common sense have been too nice. It may be time to paint the promoters of “unlimited gun ownership” for what they are – purveyors of death and doom.

  • Excellent piece!

    People seem to forget that the second amendment starts with “A well regulated Militia…” Well-regulated, not “free-for-all.” Not “anything goes.” Not “my guns, my right.”

    If all these politicians who take an oath to obey the constitution agree it starts with “well-regulated,” why aren’t guns regulated? Money from the NRA and gun makers in the pockets of politicians seems the only answer I can find. It makes me furious.

    Where I live, I know my congresswoman and senators believe in the constitution and in gun regulations. I just wish others in Congress and the Senate did too, and if they don’t, I hope they are voted out.

  • Excellent summation. Thank you Bob.

  • Thank you, Bob, for writing this. Too much tragedy to ignore.

  • Thank you for using your voice to try to help.

  • Agree 100% Bob. America must do better to protect our children!

  • My two cents’ worth (it’s not my column, so only two cents):

    “The solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Doesn’t help if the good guy is shot before he gets a chance to use his own gun!

    I firmly believe the place to start is with a ban on handungs and assault weapons. Their only purpose is to kill humans, and I can see no moral imperative to allow their manufacture and existence. While I don’t see that attraction of hunting, I’ll agree that hunting rifles are legitimate.

    Okay, three cents. A Flip Wilson sketch from long ago (obviously) contained the phrase “violence is the tool of the ignorant”. I doubt he came up with that — it sounds like something that should have been around for centuries — but it’s completely accurate.

    • Well, I think Mr. Wilson might have borrowed the idea. Isaac Asimov made a similar point in the Foundation series: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

      Not that I object – it’s a phrase and idea that’s well worth borrowing.

  • Thanks Bob. Spit on.

  • Spot.


  • 20+ years or so ago there were no mass school shootings and just like now everyone had access to guns, something has changed. The internet… maybe. Violent video games… maybe? The fact all mental health services were pretty much eliminated “because” being locked up, for being nuts, took peoples rights away… well mass homelessness also started increasing around the same time… sounds like a possibility.

    Food for thought….

  • Thanks for answering these standard arguments, Bob. I appreciate you taking a stand!

  • Good for you Bob, for writing this. Be well.

  • The issue isn’t guns — they are just a tool; it’s more complicated than the lazy assertion to blame the gun.
    Its societal behavior; it’s the mental health of isolated, angry 18-year-old boys; its failure of government to act; it’s about communications and dispute resolution; it’s about parents/family teaching right and wrong; it’s about personal responsibility.

    It’s also about optics. Children, schools – cue the political opportunists. Similar numbers of deaths in Chicago, Baltimore, and other big cities barely get reported. So, maybe it’s only select children, schools, populations, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong; this tragedy should not have happened and, in hindsight, possibly could have been prevented. There are multiple causes and potential remedies, but focusing solely on the tool used never addresses the complex, underlying issues, thus perpetuating the problem.

    Have a good (and safe) weekend.

    • Not to be contentious or nuthin’ … a tool is defined as, “A piece of equipment that you use to help you do a job.” When the tool is an AR-15, what is the job it helps someone do?

  • The only answer is to do away with public ownership of weapons of war. Sure, there will still be some killings, but not the wholesale carnage of recent shootings using AR15 assault rifles. The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution was written in 1781 when the word “arms” was either a musket or a flintlock pistol. These were at best, one shot per MINUIT. Not the 10-15 shots per SECOND of the AR15. No one should own one of these: they are NOT hunting or target rifles, they exist only to kill people. As for home protection, they are poor compared with a good pistol. The USA is the ONLY nation that allows citizens to own weapons of war. It must stop. Thank you Bob for using your bully platform to spread your message.

  • A Do-nothing meme that does NOT get raised:
    Australia tried gun control, look at what happened there.

    • Yea, they had a shooting 15+ years ago. Did gun control. They have not had a big shooting like that since. Seems like the Australian gun control laws worked (for most values of worked well).

  • I will like to remind everyone that ALL guns are weapons of war. Labeling the AR15 specifically as a weapon of war is no more correct than a musket, which was also developed for war.

    And forget about about the hunting-is-okay argument. The Constitution does not talk about or even consider hunting. What do you think the 2nd Amendment is about? To make sure the people can hunt?!

  • Great list. I am sorry that we need it, however I thank you for creating it.

  • What I continually hear from the “gun control” crowd following these events is something along the lines of “we have to do something”. They are rarely ever more specific than that because to suggest something specific (other than complete confiscation) would subject them to specific analysis and the most likely question of “how would that have prevented the last event?”

    My suggestion is that anyone ranting about “doing something” be dismissed out of hand and only attended to if they propose a specific, implementable solution that can be analyzed for practicality in our society.

    • Jack … I think you need to pay closer attention to what gun control advocates are saying, and not just what gun control opponents are pretending gun control advocates are saying. Three examples of what to do that are far more specific than “something”:

      – Red flag laws

      – Expanded background checks, including closing the so-called “gun show loophole

      – Banning civilian ownership of assault weapons

      This is far from an exhaustive list.

      You can (and do, I expect) disagree with any of these. What you can’t accurately do is wave them off as vague.

  • Bob,
    As a colleague used to say to me, quoting his doctoral advisor, “your problem is you think reason and logic should prevail.”

  • 89% of all Americans support murder mitigation laws regulating guns, gun ownership, and gun access. But, I agree that it is about mental illness and we need to accept that. Unpredictable and usually undiagnosed mental illness.

    My take –

    Undiagnosed borderline psychotic break, – “Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition. People with BPD have extreme mood swings, unstable relationships and trouble controlling their emotions. They have a higher risk of suicide and self-destructive behavior.” – Cleveland Clinic

    where suicide is chosen. They can still be high functioning, but clearly we can’t always test for it being pathological deadly or suicidal ahead of time.

    So we have to take murder mitigation measures to remove the source, if not the pathogen itself, as was done in San Francisco 115 years ago to control the Black Plague.

    The Black Plague bacteria is transmitted by fleas, thus making the fleas the guns, the bacterium the bullets, in this analogy. Scientists determined that by getting ride of the rats the fleas fed on, that would wipe out Black Plague in that city, so wipe out rats is what they did, and Plague deaths went down to nearly 0 in 2 years.

    Death mitigation measures work for deaths from drunken drivers. Covid-19, and Black Plague, and have definitively been shown to work in all other “1st world” countries similar to our own.

    We must use whatever death mitigation measures needed to protect ourselves, remembering that we are obligated to protect target groups like blacks, sexual minorities; Jews, women; and,.of course, our children.

    Of course HR and IT managers can get training on how to spot BPD in employees.

    • Thanks for commenting about this. I confess, though, that while reading your analysis this occurred to me: Yersinia pestis doesn’t kill people. Fleas and rats kill people.” Don’t blame the bacterium.

      Probably not a very good parallel.

  • This is simply mistaken. The AR15 is *not* now a military weapon, and never has been (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-15_style_rifle). It was developed by scaling down from the military standard in the 1950s. It is in fact an excellent hunting rifle.

    You are correct that the 2nd Amendment is not about hunting. It is about protection, from a tyrannical government, and from rogues and criminals. It seems to me in this era of skyrocketing crime and useless police, personal protection is becoming more necessary.

    • It appears you have your facts wrong regarding the weapon itself. From the Wikipedia entry:

      “The Armalite AR-15 was designed to be a lightweight rifle, and to fire a new high-velocity, lightweight, small caliber cartridge to allow infantrymen to carry more ammunition” (italics added to ensure clarity).

      You also have your facts wrong about the purpose of the second amendment. It does clearly state the purpose is to ensure the ability to form “well-regulated” militias. Nowhere does it even hint that armed insurrections are desirable or protected.

  • two new to me bits of info re: Guns
    HANDGUNS have long been considered dangerous because they can be concealed (They were viewed in the same category as Bowie knives and daggers) In the US, you have to be 21 to buy a handgun.
    In our Founding Father’s time, long guns, were not considered dangerous – they were obvious, and only fired 1 or 2 shots. THAT is why the AR15 is a weapon of choice for 18 year olds – they can legally buy a long gun, but they can’t buy a handgun (nor can they buy tobacco or beer in many states.)
    ‘Bear arms’ used to mean in the military/militia sense. One 1840 state supreme court wrote (something like) a man can carry a gun for 40 years for hunting, and never have been considered to be bearing arms.

  • I spent time over the long weekend reading about the AR-15. The high-velocity rip your innards part really caught my eye. Add to that magazines that start around 30 rounds and I’m trying to figure out why I would want one.

    I grew up around hunters that owned rifles and loved to hunt. I have friends that collect guns and enjoy shooting them.

    Yes, I lean in favor of the 2nd amendment. But I also have always believed in strong background checks and ending loopholes.

    Innocent children and repeated shootings is enough for me. Any baby step to get some control over this is better than nothing. Everyone needs to come together, something we are terrible at as a society.

    While I do believe that people kill, not guns. I also believe we have a whole lot of crazy going on. This trend will continue (two others shootings at Milwaukee Bucks viewing party a few weeks ago and a shoot in Oklahoma this weekend).

    We need to start somewhere.

  • Dave,

    There have been a number of mass shootings to add to your list since 4 June 2022.

    Regarding the children shooting each other, that might be addressed by national law to require guns be securely locked when not in use, and that would not violate the second amendment.

    They are talking about limiting assault weapons sales to those over 21 years of age. I would counter that by saying if someone can be drafted at 18 to fight and die for our country, they are old enough to buy a gun. Yes, you are still required to register for the draft when you turn 18.

    Mr Dolan says “HANDGUNS have long been considered dangerous because they can be concealed (They were viewed in the same category as Bowie knives and daggers) In the US, you have to be 21 to buy a handgun.
    In our Founding Father’s time, long guns, were not considered dangerous – they were obvious, and only fired 1 or 2 shots.”

    I hope we do not lose site of the fact that a firearm is designed for one purpose, to seriously kill or injure a living creature. They were not designed to help you grow your garden, whether it is a single shot muzzle loader or a hand gun or an assault weapon. However, we used to have a ban on assault weapons, and it did not interfere with an individual’s right to defend him or her self.

    There is the argument that the answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In Texas, there were several “good guys” with guns, standing outside the building where the “bad guy” with a gun was shooting children. There purpose seemed to be to keep civilians with their guns from entering the building and facing the bad guy with a gun. Excuse my French. If you are going to live in the real world where the threat is likely to be someone with an assault weapon, then the police doing the protection should be equipped to handle that threat as a matter of standard practice.

    There is no logical reason for not banning the sale of assault weapons and large quantity ammunition cartridges. Will that fix everything? No, but I have every reason to believe it would help. A 45 caliber hand gun is good enough for the watch on a multi-million dollar navy ship. It is good enough for normal self defense.

    Also, note the second amendment begins with “A well regulated Militia…”. However consider this Wikipedia article.
    It puts to question the term well regulated.

    I hope I have not made too much of a fool of myself.



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