Friday, November 28, 2014

Gun Control After Newtown

NEW YORK – The brutal murder of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, shakes us to the core as individuals and requires a response as citizens. The United States seems to reel from one mass gun killing to another – roughly one a month this year alone. Easy access to guns in the US leads to horrific murder rates relative to other highly educated and wealthy societies. America needs to find a better way.

Other countries have done so. Between the mid-1970’s and the mid-1990’s, Australia had several mass shootings. After a particularly horrible massacre in 1996, a new prime minister, John Howard, declared that enough was enough. He instituted a severe crackdown on gun ownership, and forced would-be gun owners to submit to a rigorous application process, and to document why they would need a gun.

Conditions for gun ownership in Australia are now very strict, and the registration and approval process can take a year or more. Howard’s government also implemented a rigorous “buyback” policy, to enable the government to purchase guns already owned by the public.

The policy worked. While violent crime has not ended in Australia, murders are down, and, even more dramatically, there has not been a single mass shooting since 1996 in which three or more people died (the definition used in many studies of mass shootings). Before the crackdown, there had been 13 such massacres in 18 years.

Yet the US still refuses to act, even after this year’s string of shocking incidents: the massacre in a movie theatre in Colorado, an attack on a Sikh community in Milwaukee, another on a shopping mall in Oregon, and many more before the ruthless slaughter of first graders and school staff in Newtown. The gun lobby in the US remains powerful, and politicians are afraid to counter it. Given the shooting of then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, perhaps they even fear that they, too, might be targeted.

There can be little doubt that some societies are more steeped in violence than others, even controlling for obvious factors like income levels and education. The US homicide rate is roughly four times that of comparable societies in Western Europe, and Latin America’s homicide rates are even higher than in the US (and dramatically higher than Asian countries at roughly the same income level). What accounts for staggeringly high rates in the US and Latin America?

American violence is rooted in history. The US and Latin American countries are all “conquest” societies, in which Europeans ruled over multi-racial societies. In many of these countries, including the US, the European conquerors and their descendants nearly wiped out the indigenous populations, partly through disease, but also through war, starvation, death marches, and forced labor.

In the US and many Latin American countries, slaveholding fueled mass violence as well. The slaves – and generations of their descendants – were routinely murdered.

The US also developed a particular populist belief that gun ownership constitutes a vital protection against government tyranny. The US was born in a citizens’ revolt against British imperial power. The right of citizens to organize militias to fight government tyranny was therefore a founding idea of the new country, enshrined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which declares that, because a country needs a well-regulated militia, the people have the right to bear arms.

Since citizens’ militias are anachronistic, gun owners now use the second amendment merely to defend individual gun ownership, as if that somehow offers protection against tyranny. A reckless, right-wing Supreme Court has agreed with them. As a result, gun ownership has become perversely linked to freedom in the vast gun-owning American sub-culture.

But, instead of protection of freedom, Americans nowadays are getting massive bloodshed and fear. The claim that gun ownership ensures freedom is especially absurd, given that most of the world’s vibrant democracies have long since cracked down on private gun ownership. No tyrant has risen in Australia since Howard’s gun-control reforms.

Simply put, freedom in the twenty-first century does not depend on unregulated gun ownership. Indeed, America’s gun culture is a threat to freedom, after the murder of a president, senator, and other public leaders, and countless assassination attempts against public officials over recent decades.

Yet US gun culture remains as pervasive as it is unrecorded. America reels from one shooting disaster to the next, and on nearly every occasion, politicians dutifully declare their continued devotion to unregulated gun ownership. Indeed, no one even knows how many guns Americans hold. The number is estimated to be around 270 million, or almost one per person on average. According to one recent poll, 47% of households have a gun at home.

The shooting in Newtown was not only especially horrific and heartbreaking, but is also part of an increasingly common pattern – a specific kind of murder-suicide that has been carefully studied by psychologists and psychiatrists. Loners, often with paranoid tendencies, commit these heinous acts as part of their own suicide. They use carefully planned and staged mass murders of innocents in order to take revenge on society and to glorify themselves as they take their own lives.

The perpetrators are not hardened criminals; many have no previous criminal record. They are pathetic, deranged, and often have struggled with mental instability for much of their lives. They need help – and society needs to keep guns out of their reach.

America has now suffered around 30 shooting massacres over the past 30 years, including this year’s deadly dozen; each is a gut-wrenching tragedy for many families. And yet, each time, gun owners scream that freedom will be eliminated if they are unable to buy assault weapons and 100-round clips.

The bloodbath in Newtown is the time to stop feeding this gun frenzy. Australia and other countries provide models of how to do it: regulate and limit gun ownership to approved uses. America’s real freedoms depend on sane public policy.

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    1. CommentedMichael Lardner

      Professor, this article begins to touch on the root cause of our "gun prolem", our history and culture, which may prove the hardest to deal with.

    2. CommentedGildete Lima

      I had the honor of having Professor Sachs as a guest speaker in many occasions while I was attending my master program at Columbia University. He never disappoints me! This gun-control article is one of the brightest I've ever read so far! Thank you professor Sachs. it's always a pleasure to read your pieces.

    3. CommentedSydney Lambrick

      Anton is correct: it is not the weapons that kill, it is the humans that use them. Nonetheless, there must be leglislation in place to prevent those people from acquiring those weapons. How else can this be done unless there is a blanket ban on those weapons? The heartwrenching tragedy in Newport could perhaps have been avoided had the ban on assault rifles in the USA had still been in place. The lame defence by the NRA and the gun lobby, here in Australia, that guns don't kill people, people kill people is illogical: what do people use guns for? Unlike motor vehicles, which do kill if misused, guns are made for one purpose only.

        CommentedPaul E. Condo

        A crazy person is a person, and as such has certain legal rights that rightly require respect. A gun is a thing. It is not even a pseudo-person, as are corporations. I think banning certain types of guns from society is much easier, much more doable, much less costly, to accomplish than denying freedom to a mildly disfunctional, but real person. If only manifestly disfunctional persons are target for denial we will not see any change in the rate of these atrocities. All the people who have committed these acts in the recent past have either not been committable, or did not have legal permission to have a weapon, but nevertheless obtained access through a breakdown in the system.

    4. CommentedMichael Cohen

      I hope that the brutal killings in Newtown will cause people to put aside their prejudices and seriously address the issue of how to prevent these tragedies.

      As part of this process a number of things must be kept in mind.
      - All sides must be allowed to contribute to the discussion provided they accept that protecting lives, especially of our children is the primary goal.
      - Facts matter. Whatever policies are proposed they must be evaluated based on past history and their impacts must be monitored once they are adopted and appropriate changes made.
      - Each side must be identify their core requirements and be willing to compromise on other issues.
      - Forget about the slippery slope argument. Children's lives are too important to be sacrificed for unfounded fears. We live in a democratic society. We have much more effective ways of controlling our government besides guns.

    5. CommentedAnton Könen

      I consider it more a social problem than a legal one. In a society that declares money and consumption as the focal point of life, no one can realy be astonished to experience acts like the one in Newton. It is still not weapons that kill, it is humans who use them. Discussing legal changes is discussing symptoms, we rather should discuss the reasons. It is, perhaps, realy too easy to obtain guns in the US, which should not be too difficult to change. But no one should chrish the illusion to having the problem solved by prohibiting weapons like some stupid german politicians do. This problem is a very complex on, based on the social fundamentels of human society structures. Here is the point to start.

    6. Commentedyang guang

      Lotus Land of the free ( GUN ) I don't know why anyone from other countries would want to live in the US or go to School there . Very corrupt society.

    7. Commentedyang guang

      New Laws for gun control in the US will do nothing to stop the killing that is becoming normal in this society . Talk is cheap, action is another thing all together.The US is a gun state of the world. The NRA and its allies have integrated the US Political system to a point that all laws that are made will favour this Political Entity (NRA). These same people are the biggest manufactures of guns in the world.

      The manfactures also supply other nations and countries with weopons. The real problem is written in there old and antiquated Constitution, which makes it legal for every citizen of the US to carry a weapon.The USA has been at war to many times in the last decade. This kind of war like mentality breeds people to carry a gun. The parents of this kind of society teach they childern to fire a gun. The Law makers can talk about new gun control law; but this will do nothing to stop the guns from getting into the hands of these crazy people who conmittee crimes against humanity. It is a black plague in the USA to allow organizations like the NRA and it's allies to operate and too lobby governments. No one in the US government has the know how or wants to change the old Constitution on the gun. People who oppose to gun control; are usually shoot at; or somehow lose there supporters, money talks. It is a corrupt society of the gun in the US. The gun violence in the US
      has spead to other countries, Canada and Mexico have seen a big ingrease increased in gun related crime. Over nine thousand
      people are killed yearly in the US by the Gun. This is increasing every year for the last 5 years.

      Talk does nothing to eliminate the corruption that exists in the US Political World with regards to the gun.

    8. CommentedStephen Stanley

      I believe your count to be a bit off. Just last night, here in Colorado, we had a murder-suicide that took five lives. It isn't just the big, flashy, tragic incidents like Newtown, it's hundreds of fatalities a day. We are a violent society, it appears, and we have the tools to exercise our violence, guaranteed by a poorly-worded sentence in a two hundred year old document.

    9. CommentedAlexandros Liakopoulos

      While US Global Politics are Guns Oriented, can the US government afford to lose all the well-trained-on-guns criminals that serve as US soldiers abroad in order to counterbalance their criminal sentence? This is the question!

      Not to be misunderstood by anyone: I do not imply all US soldiers are criminals in the US; just saying a proportion of them are, while the very large proportion also come from poor neighbors and ghettos , where "gun-training" is an everyday-life activity. According to US "Deep State", this is a vital asset in producing "fighters of the democracy". Can they afford to lose that asset? Most probably they can, now that War goes remote.

      The analysis of prof Sachs is very interesting, but one should also deal with the impact of US society's gun-culture to the rest of the world, while US politics (reflecting politicians' culture) do affect the rest of the world by "gun power" de facto. That would also give an extra argument to people arguing against US gun-madness. "Treating" US society against this very "bad habit" is of vital importance to everyone on the planet: the sooner it is done, the sooner the US and the rest of the world will stop facing the kind of tragedy of mass murders of any kind, wherever they may occur on the planet and whoever may be responsible. Taking guns out of our everyday life, may take guns out of everyday politics at the world level and war at of the question. At least, this is a hope we should all fight for if we plan to create a better world to live in, instead of taking apart the one we have, as we do today!

    10. CommentedHeera Lal

      USA can adopt Indian model of gun control. Our arms control act can be adopted by USA with due amendments.

    11. Commentedpaul kosmas

      I would like to see your source for this claim that loners with paranoid tendencies are the most common profile, and that their actions are for self-glorification.

    12. CommentedRaj Thamotheram

      And this pattern continues today in many parts of the world and is legitimated by the bi-partisan consensus over US foreign/military policy.

      Read military figures like Andrew Bacevich or Republicans like Clyde Prestowitz

    13. CommentedRaj Thamotheram

      I found this oped by Rabbi Lerner really helpful about the importance of going beyond gun control (important as it is) to the deep cultural roots of violence:

    14. CommentedRaj Thamotheram

      Good to see (Australian) Rupert Murdoch highlight the difference between the two countries and speak out in favour of gun control:

      Of course, we will need to wait to see if Fox News and WSJ give gun control serious editorial backing before we conclude this is not just a good personal PR exercise.

    15. CommentedYoshimichi Moriyama

      I do not know well about American society and culture, and so I do not think I can say anything definite.

      Some years ago in Japan a man, in his thirties if I remember correctly, went into an elementary school and killed a number of children. The motive was that he wanted to die and that he wanted to be sentenced to death penalty (meaning that he did not have the courage to kill himself).

      Japanese society has lost a cultural code of honor. Once we used to think that it was a despicable act of dishonor to bully the weaker, something like a code of honorable manliness though this phraseology might well get women lib fighters angry. The Japanese above mentioned was a case in point. From what he said to the police he did not have a sort of cultural upbringing, perhaps because society had lost it.

    16. CommentedRoy Niles

      As of now, we in the US can't ban all guns - it's supposedly unconstitutional as you know. So it would be much better to suggest we ban assault weapons, which we can do, but must do on a national rather than on a State by State basis. Some States of course already do this, but Connecticut apparently did not. And if it did, there are neighboring States that didn't.

      We must also recognize that we've tried and failed to do this type of banning before. So we can't be optimistic that it will be possible this time. Unless we're willing to make the most determined effort ever made to do it now.

    17. CommentedBruce Woych

      "American violence is rooted in history."

      AMERICAN freedom is rooted in revolution and revolutions are not always violent. It is a really dumb generalization to say that the instruments of weaponry are uniquely involved in conquest. This is twisted logic. Imperial domination and violent force is in the hands of opportunists, and opportunists are also in classical economics. A great deal of "violence" and suppression can be placed at the door of American Economists too. Does that mean that American violence is rooted in Economics? I think THAT statement is just as accurate as the generalization you espoused too hastily. The vast majority of people that historically became this United States, Canada, Central America and South America sought freedom from violence. It was a minority of greed seeking power freaks that led with violent intent.
      These still exist in proportion today, and we have 9as you know, exported this political-military economic class warfare and now have entrapped our domestic economy in the same mechanisms of exploit and alienation under "MARKET REGIMES" and private power interests. You concentrate upon history? You and economics ARE a big part of that history as much as the NRA itself. Markets Kill all over the world. The myth that markets are anything else but people making big deals that end up ultimately wiping out entire ways of living...making them market dependent and in excruciating poverty IS history.
      Economic Cold warfare IS history. The billion dollar industry of virtual warfare through extremely graphic violent computer games is reality. The trillion dollar wars are reality. Economic markets in the arms trade and the black markets of financing are reality. We need to regulate MARKETS from killing people! That's reality...and the Big Money interests of the NRA are clearly only ONE of those markets.
      So let's not go back in history, let us talk today! Who really owns this reality ..., and WHO SERVES THEM?

    18. Commenteddan hitt

      Somebody should point out that we kill more children ---- every week ---- in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen --- than were murdered in Connecticut.

      If gun control is such a good idea, then i think we should start where the problem is biggest: the US Government.

      Let's close our overseas bases and end our pointless but super-expensive wars.

      And let the children, all of God's children [not just ours], live.

        CommentedSean Fitzgerald

        Granted. But the point here is that, at the very least, ordinary citizens should not have ready access to weapons designed for maximum impact in war zones lest they be deployed against their fellow citizens.

        Commentedrob denehy

        The hypocrisy involved in the difference in value attributed to American vs. Asian or African children is disgusting. There are fairly regular incidents of innocents, often children, being killed in our military adventures, and there is no hue and cry - they are considered collateral damage.

        This U.S. is blackening it's soul with its military action and drone terrorism abroad.

    19. CommentedRichard Solomon

      This analysis makes sense but is missing one key element: more effective oversight of individuals with mental illness. Many, if not most, of the perpetrators of these mass shootings have received psychiatric treatment. Almost always there are signs of worsening symptoms, decline in functioning before these individuals erupt into violence. Treatment providers, family members, teachers, friends need to alert authorities when concerns arise about the stability of these individuals. Additionally, these individuals should NOT have ready access to weapons. Parents of these youth must overcome their denial about this. Or else the parents should be held liable when their child goes off and kills others.

    20. CommentedBattles Atlas

      Is there any evidential basis for this piece? Wealth inequality is strongly tied to violence by mountains of empirical evidence, and gets no mention by Sachs. Its growth in the US follows the trend for mass murders. Similarly the absence of welfare and affordable healthcare in the US means a lot of mentally ill people go untreated, this gets barely a passing mention. However slavery and colonialism are afford whole paragraphs showing that the US has a uniquely violent history! Seriously Prof Sachs? Did you miss World War I and II during your history lessons? Us Europeans have a pretty violent history in our own backyard.

    21. CommentedRobert DePree

      Mass killings are committed by loners, selfishly acting out the anguish of their frustrated lives. The world pays attention to their final act of revenge as it never did to their pathetic lives. These extremely maladjusted people could comprise 1 in 100,000 - maybe 3,000 disturbed people nationwide.

      Their decision to act out their vengeful fantasies has nothing to do with the availability of guns. Firebombs, explosives, or poison are reasonable alternatives. The Columbine shooters back up plan was propane bombs.

      The extreme preventive surveillance and detention required to eliminate guns in the US would be impose a horrific burden on the law-abiding. Killers, including crazed loners, drug dealers, and burglars won't ever obey such laws.

      Many innocent lives are saved each year by citizens using their 2nd amendment rights to protect their families with defensive guns. Eliminating the gun rights of law abiding citizens would render them defenseless against under-policed mayhem in our urban centers.

      Perhaps it would be fairer to intrude somewhat on the freedom of the few thousand extremely disturbed people rather than restrict the right of 300 million stable citizens to protect their families in their dangerous world?

      So why not charge the NIH and the ACLU with responsibility to develop a reasonable, more rigorous screening of maladjusted and disaffected loners who could unpredictably flip into mass killer mode? Their agonized mothers would support this.

    22. Commentederic j rhoades

      The problem is, of course, those 270 million guns, if gun control is such a difficult issue getting the bulk of those guns out of private hands should be considered almost impossible. It is not the purchase of guns which should concern us but the arsenal in existence.

      This being the case we are somewhat like a country plagued by leftover landmines, there is so much out there hidden that can cause us harm.

      So that means we must look toward ways of preventing violence first, doing things like rebuilding our mental health infrastructure, etc. The odd condition prevention creates however is that it leads to things like mental health screenings and monitoring of our public discourse, so you wind up trading the freedom to have guns at the expense of personal freedom. A choice not many people would consciously make.

      It also means we must approach the problem from where we are, not where we wish we were. Would many people say that school principals should be armed? Probably not, but we may be in a case in the short term where that is simply what is needed to save lives. I think the principal of that school would have given anything for a gun at that moment when she confronted Adam Lanza, but I am sure she would have given even more to live in a society where she would never make that wish.

      This is, of course, a driving argument amongst people who believe in the right to own guns, that guns protect people from those who wish to do violence. It is a bit of a circular argument, the amount of guns we own means that we need more guns.

      Still I would prefer to live in a society where it isn't required that I be armed, or that I need to rely on people around me to protect me when the bullets start to fly. For many of us that is too high a price to pay for the right to own a gun.

      What is really required to solve this issue is a constitutional ammendment to change what the right to bear arms means.

    23. Commentedjim bridgeman

      (1)This is as much a media frenzy problem as a gun frenzy problem. Without the guaranteed notoriety, a perceived form of immortality and personal significance, these events would not occur. The more frenzied coverage each one gets the more likely the next one is to occur.
      (2)The historical roots comments are accurate.
      (3)The phrase "well-regulated" was put into the 2nd amendment not to limit gun holding to the militia but rather to emphasize that even when the gun-holders gather in groups they are not subject to federal authority so long as those groups are well-regulated militia. Note that this says nothing limiting the states' rights to regulate them, at least absent the infinitely mischievous 14th amendment.

    24. CommentedBen Leet

      About gun control and other nations:
      Japan had 2 gun-related murders in 2006, the U.S. 12,000, and the U.S. has a gun-related murder rate 20 times most developed nations according to this Atlantic Monthly article:

      The U.S. has 10 times the average rate among high GDP nations according to this article:

      The American Prospect previously ran an article promoting gun control, it said, 'For example, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, during the nine years after the District of Columbia enacted a handgun ban, D.C. saw gun-related homicides fall 25 percent compared with contiguous areas in Maryland and Virginia. International comparisons yield similar results. One study found that stringent gun control works, while modest regulation does not.
      The data from the research are complex and controversial, but the bottom line is this: Whatever significantly reduces the number of handguns in general circulation—-whether through culture or regulation —reduces homicides. Other measures such as waiting periods, required training for gun owners, and enhanced sentences for criminals have no discernable effect."
      See --

    25. Commentedrob denehy

      The bad news: We are all disturbed individuals. Living in our society requires a high tolerance for cognitive dissonance, especially if the observer is of high intelligence. Something smells rotten to them about our society, but they can't quite put their finger on it. Who has not felt that way sometime?

      The question is when does this feeling escalate into disturbed action. I don't believe that can be predicted, and the quiet guy next door might just snap some day. If he can get his hands on a gun, he may make it a GROUP one-way ticket to paradise. Let's minimize the chances that he (or you) have access to a gun on that day.

    26. CommentedJoseph Chadwick

      I think less emotional and more thoughtful discussions would be useful. But I guess that's true of the majority of political discourse these days.

      Branding the Supreme Court's decisions as "reckless and right wing" makes one concerned that Mr. Sach's view of truth is that his view - regardless of process, history and the inevitable uncertainty of multiple causal factors leading to any event as well as the unintended consequences of significant policies hastily decided and imposed rather than persuaded.

      How about a less ideological and more thoughtful discussion?

    27. Commentedrob denehy

      The violence in our culture is also enabled by those who wish to push the limits of free speech, because they can, and they reap profits from violent entertainment "Thats what the pubilc wants to see!" they say.

      "Decorum" is not a factor in public behavior anymore. Public actors feel no need to act as responsible models for kids and youth. The more depraved the act (e.g. "death meta;" music), the more commercial potential. This is a deep cultural issue. The preponderance of military action video games is abhorrent to me, and promotes unreal reactions to imaginary behavioral situations on their little screens. Inuring one's soul to the idea of violence is the first step in being lured into military altercations, and it's taken at 3 or 5 years old!.

      The conflict between free speech and what is good for society is at the base of much of our problems. The market determines that we will sink in our morality to the lowest common denominator. It only remains to see how low that is...

    28. Commentedrob denehy

      "American violence is rooted in history. The US and Latin American countries are all “conquest” societies, in which Europeans ruled over multi-racial societies. In many of these countries, including the US, the European conquerors and their descendants nearly wiped out the indigenous populations, partly through disease, but also through war, starvation, death marches, and forced labor."

      Eurasia has seen its share of conquest,forced marches, and ethnic cleansing. I don't think this argument is very strong. The cultural force might be better described as a "frontier" philosophy, where everything is up for grabs, and the wiliest, toughest, son-of-a-bitch will end up ruling and owning most resources. Is the caricatured Latin macho sentimentality a real phenomenon? Are the Spanish ancestors of Latin Americans so quick to adopt violence? The Old World most certianly did not shun violence. In order to survive as a race of billions of people, we need to suppress this tendency, or we will all pay as tyrannical individuals can direct more power to their personal ends.


      "Since citizens’ militias are anachronistic, gun owners now use the second amendment merely to defend individual gun ownership, as if that somehow offers protection against tyranny. A reckless, right-wing Supreme Court has agreed with them. As a result, gun ownership has become perversely linked to freedom in the vast gun-owning American sub-culture."

      Totally agree here. The reality is that owning a gun in a conflict situation raises the stakes and promotes a higher LEVEL of violence, as well as endangering the gun owner by giving an assailant a reason to gun him down. In terms of protection from a governmental intrusion, all the AK-47s in the world will not stop a government truly wishing to terrorize its citizens.

    29. CommentedSam Altimore

      The problem is with our society not guns. We teach our kids about violence from the time they are toddlers; we allow them to watch hours upon hours of violent T.V. and play video games that promote killing , and not only killing, but killing Cops. This crap is ingrained in their minds from very, very early ages. Then to top it off, the parents and other adults engage in these games only to reenforce the validity of this crap. GUNS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM, PEOPLE ARE THE PROBLEM.
      Strange how Hollywood doesn't mind making fortunes doing movies that engrain killing and violence, yet they want gun control....WHAT HYPOCRITES.
      Over 25,000 people die each year in the U.S. from ALCOHOL related accidents. This is another form of murder and I don't see all the Bleeding Heart Liberals marching to BAN Alcohol. How many people die each year from Heart Attacks, predominately brought on by Smoking and Obesity??? Where are the marchers to Ban McDonald's (Except Mike Bloomberg, who is a rich idiot) and Phillip Morris?
      I have heard (and don't know if it is true) that one of the reasons Japan never invaded the U.S.Mainland was they feared that too many citizens had guns. It is not the legal gun owner that should be feared, it is the crazies out there that will find some way to do the killing they have been indoctrinated to do or the revenge they seek.
      I would only guess that most gun killings are done by Drug Addicts, gangsters or someone who has gone blitzoid. And if he doesn't have a gun he will find another avenue to do his killing. You can learn how to make dynamite on the internet, or for that matter virtually any type of explosive and only the Good Lord knows what else. Nazi Germany and Russia took guns away from citizens, only to become Police States….IS THAT WHAT WE WANT??

        CommentedZsolt Hermann

        I agree with you, I would refine it a bit more, it is human society that is the problem.
        An individual has no freedom, we are all products of the environment we live in.
        And today's environment, apart from supplying as many guns as they want in the US, also provides people with a very warped upbringing where ruthless competition, celebrating success at the expense of others is the norm.
        Mainstream movies targeted at young audiences are non-stop horror, killing feasts, the Internet and computer games, even books are full of murder, sex, and other negative patterns, that kids unconsciously copy. This is all in order to fuel the present socio-economic system, that is itself destructive, and now has become self destructive.
        As the article itself says perhaps mass shootings reduced in number in Australia but the overall crime rate did not, reducing the number of guns might reduce the superficial body count, does not solve the bad influence and the overall root cause.
        Only a new education system can help, providing the basis of a totally new human society, that is based on the values of positive, mutually responsible human interrelationships, based on mutual help instead of mutual exploitation.

        CommentedMoctar Aboubacar

        There are many problems with our society, one of which is the proliferation of and ease of access to guns.

        You say "Guns are not the problem, people are the problem".

        I'll say "People are the problem, and they have guns"

        While the mental health question is paramount, and while you can't avoid dealing with questions of social integration, the school system, the media, 'cultures of violence', etc., focusing onlyhese is dancing around the all too clear reality: if that kid did not have a gun, he would not have shot anyone.

    30. CommentedTed Peters

      Given the plethora of crises now plaguing the country, from an economy that is totally stalled, to the chaos in the Middle East, to a fiscal debt growth that is totally unsustainable, to an ill-conceived health care program that shall inevitably prove totally unmanageable... and a Presidency that on the verge of becoming lame duck... it seems that expending political capital battling our fringe element Second Amendment gun freaks would be a serious waste of time and energy.. especially when we deliberately blind ourselves about the root causes of mental illness. I mean, there is no denying that this shooter, as well as the ones at the Batman movie and the Gifford massacres were very very seriously disturbed human beings.

    31. CommentedDavid Nowakowski

      The problem with this "solution" is that it does not show a practical path to the answer. The United States CANNOT "regulate and limit gun ownership" beyond a few broad boundaries (e.g. guns in public buildings, or possession by the insane), because the U.S. Constitution clearly spells out: "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed". Thanks, James Madison!

      The U.S. Constitution previously allowed slavery, banned alcohol, and denied women the right to vote. What is Sachs' recommendation on how to repeal the second amendment?! Without this step, his policy is moot: it will be struck down, as it should be, for violating the Constitution. (It's fairly clear to me that the part of the 2nd amendment relating to militias is not just decorative, but that clarification is not part of the operative clause, and so is completely ignored in practice)

        Commentedpaul kosmas

        Who says that "A well regulated Militia" is not part of the operative clause? I suggest that all three words are operative, and that you are wrong to take any clause out of context. I further suggest that it being the first clause in the Amendment makes its importance impossible to ignore.

        All three words are, and rightly should be, operative in understanding the Amendment, and the intentions of the founders. Well. Regulated. Militia.

        I recommend you read up on the proto-revolutionary Regulators of NC, and perhaps you will have some insight into the context in which the founders crafted that language.

    32. CommentedBrett Schafer

      As an Australian, thanks for the praise. You are missing some salient points about gun control in Australia. I disagree with the difficulty in getting a gun license or purchase a gun, however the main change was access to what type of guns.

      The main guns that you can own are true working or sporting guns i.e. limited magazine size and hand action (bolt or lever). Pretty sensible really.

    33. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

      Tragic events like this have passed with a perverse contingency as we have silently watched at the perfunctory obituaries of all kind with my moist eyes, nothing brought back any semblance of hope that the repeatability of these crimes could be better abated by the wisdom of the majority who do not make laws, but help to lead the argument where wisdom should be.

      Procyon Mukherjee