The Guardian discusses gun violence, gun control

Every so often, I get the feeling of a host at a party having a guest show up just as people are leaving.  This makes me want to say to the latecomer that while the rest of us are cleaning up, there may be a few beers left in the cooler out back.

One example of this is Hillary Clinton’s migration through the fields of opinion polls on the subject of marriage equality.  Another case is when someone on the side of gun control has a moment of enlightenment, as occurred recently with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

What’s even better, though, is to find someone who presents fair analysis of the subject of guns, gun rights, and gun control, based on facts and logic.  Reasonable people can differ on the conclusions that the evidence leads to, but solid reporting is a good grounding.

With that in mind, consider a five-part series of articles written for The Guardian by Lois Beckett, titled, “Gun Control:  Where it went wrong and how to fix it.”  The first two give the context of gun laws and violence, while the third gives voice to advocates of gun rights.  The last two focus on solutions and how to get to productive discussion about those.

Beckett has a long list of pieces on guns in America, including an article that recognizes the red herring that is the “assault weapon.”  And the solutions that she discusses are in many cases things that should not be controversial, no matter what side of the question of rights we find ourselves.

One observation is that violence in big cities is concentrated in a handful of bad actors.  Organizations such as Harvard University’s Operation Ceasefire works on this premise, focusing on at-risk youths and crime hot spots—in other words, give the attention to where problems exist.  Given the tensions that exist between communities and police departments at present, this approach will depend on restoring, or in many cases creating faith in law enforcement.

Other solutions Beckett lists involve addressing suicide and domestic violence.  Suicide makes up the largest category of deaths due to gunfire—approaching two-thirds of the total.  In both of these cases, gun control is at best a bandage applied to a deep wound.  Suicide isn’t prevented internationally by strict gun laws, and here in the United States, methods of suicide tend to shift around with hanging having increased in frequency in recent years as firearms suicides have decreased.  A similar situation exists with regard to domestic violence, considering the wide variety of violent acts that are committed against family.  With regard to suicide and domestic violence, an effective strategy for reducing deaths involves dealing with what causes those acts.

There is one proposal that Beckett offers that will be met with a refusal from those of us who care about gun rights—magazine capacity limits.  We can debate at length the pros and cons of X number of rounds in a magazine, but in the end, as with every invention made by human beings, it’s the user who determines the effects, and good people can have a need for more than ten rounds.  Beyond that, as Beckett acknowledges, given the number of standard-capacity magazines out there, it would be decades before the supply would diminish appreciably.

As I’ve said, on the whole, Beckett’s reporting on guns has been good work, far better than the typical fare I come across in the media.  A lot of what she included as solutions are things that I’ve suggested in the past.  But lots of people out there don’t read gun magazines, so it’s helpful to see some good ideas that aren’t the tired demands for banning this and restricting that get shown to mainstream readers.  The goal of reducing the number of people killed is a realistic one if we’ll agree to things that can work while also respecting our rights.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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