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David P. Smith: The Elephant and Gunkin Troll
Monday, December 17, 2012 8:15 AM

You would have to have your head in the sand lately to have not read about the horrible acts committed this last week in the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, elementary school.  Every time we have a tragedy, the public mourning and prayer of the politicians and public figures dies down quite rapidly to be replaced by the almost never ending blame game by those who want to have an opportunity to unveil, and hope to use, their own ax they have been grinding since the last incident.  The same folks who have been publicly crying the loudest over these innocent lives lost think it is fine to kill the little ones as long as the mother chooses this awful fate before birth happens.  This is a fallacious, hollow, and illogical position to have.  Valuing human life should not start just at birth.

After putting aside their public displays of grief, those who refuse to recognize the need for change of the sinful heart of man by God, instead turn aside from that obvious elephant in the room which hardly anyone in public office will even acknowledge any more.  They look around and ignore the completely conspicuous problem while wringing their hands, fretting, and manipulating anything else they can find in the room to blame for the collapsing foundation instead of what is so clear to many.  Therefore, we have the usual whipping boy rear his head again; his name is Gunkin Troll.  He looks like to a troll to those who like whipping him all the time and they keep at it while he screams louder and louder.  Poor Gunkin Troll.  He just will not behave and learn from the mistakes of himself and others.  He cannot have it his way, so he hopes that if everyone around him felt sorry for him enough, then he could have his way. 

There are those who want physicians to get involved in the debate regarding gun control and expect them to start advising on that on a proactive basis as if physicians do not already have enough on their plates to consider with patients.  If the patient brings it up and seeks advice, certainly physicians would seek to help when presented with a problem.  However, ignoring the elephant in the room and turning to gun control isn’t the answer for what ails our society.  A study in Volume 30, Number 2 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (pp. 649-694), answered the question in its title: “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence.”  The answer is that as gun ownership goes up, murder and suicide rates go down.  Two criminologists, Prof. Don Kates and Prof. Gary Mauser, did an exhaustive study of American and European gun laws and violence rates.  They found that nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not. In comparing the nine European nations with the lowest rates of gun ownership (5,000 or fewer guns per 100,000 population) to the nine nations with the highest rates of gun ownership (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000 population), those with lowest rates have a combined murder rate three times higher.  In Western Europe, for example, Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership and has the lowest murder rate.  However, Holland has the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe, but has almost the highest murder rate; Sweden and Denmark  also have high murder rates, but few guns. The study’s authors wrote in the report: “If the mantra ‘more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death’ were true, broad cross-national comparisons should show that nations with higher gun ownership per capita consistently have more death. Nations with higher gun ownership rates, however, do not have higher murder or suicide rates than those with lower gun ownership. Indeed many high gun ownership nations have much lower murder rates. (p. 661)”.  In Russia, the murder rate is four times higher than the U.S. and more than 20 times higher than Norway; private gun ownership is very low after decades of totalitarian rule.  Very few Russian murders involve guns, but the overall murder rate is explained in the study, “[P]er capita murder overall is only half as frequent in the United States as in several other nations where gun murder is rarer, but murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent.”

Getting back to the aforementioned metaphorical example, the elephant in the room looks on the scene in complete amazement as to why so many seem to not even see him, but grab on to Gunkin Troll instead, to blame him for their house falling apart in front of their eyes.  While Gunkin Troll is hollering, the house continues to deteriorate, but at least they feel better because they are “doing something.”  Maybe one day, Gunkin Troll will grow up, turn around, and direct his attention at the elephant in the room before the house is completely demolished.

 

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