Just as copycat violence was predictable following the tragic school shooting in Colorado, so was the knee-jerk rash of gun control legislation and the hand-wringing search for a scapegoat cause. Of course, we all want to "do something" to prevent such events. Polls materialized overnight----again, predictably--- showing some support for more varieties of gun control and legislators were all too willing to grab the easy feel-good placebo because the true solutions are too complex to implement immediately.
Even those who generally advocate gun control will admit that more gun control won't prevent such tragedies. The gunmen at Columbine violated numerous laws with willful intent; another series of laws won't make any difference to the next suicidal loon or loons.
The long-term solutions, at the risk of oversimplifying, require a broader perspective. We must demonstrate a willingness to spend the money to lock criminals away----especially dangerous ones---from the innocent. We need to overcome the ridiculous notion that any reference to God violates someone's rights. Removing God from schools and public life violates us all and removes the basic foundation for ethical and moral behavior. We must redefine deviance and overcome the fear that condemning deviant and dangerous behavior is too intolerant. When we tolerate everything under the guise of open-mindedness, anything goes.
That being said, we obviously can't make these changes overnight but we need to start dealing with crime now. Crime has always been a populist issue and in the wake of FBI crime statistics recently released, one mayoral candidate has come forth promising that he will address the crime problem in Macon. The FBI's statistics suggest, at face value, that in 1998 Macon's crime is up over 1997. Macon officials challenged the numbers suggesting that they were misleading.
From the recent Jack Ellis press conference, I didn't read or hear any new ideas on how crime would be addressed but instead only the usual platitudes and tough talk. I'd like to challenge candidate Ellis and all the local governments to do something constructive and do something that's proven to have beneficial effect. Ellis suggested that his administration would make things difficult for criminals.
One simple thing would strike true fear into the hearts of criminals all across our community: Let them know that most of our citizens will be armed. Surveys of incarcerated felons show that the one thing they fear more than police and prosecution is encountering an armed "victim." Simply the knowledge that most will be armed will give criminals pause to think. Because they won't know who is and who isn't, we all will be safer.
The community of Kennesaw, Georgia saw dramatic results in reduced crime by passing a ordinance requiring every home to own a firearm for self-defense. Of course, Kennesaw officials did nothing to enforce the ordinance. The idea was enough. And since most people are law-abiding, many previously unarmed households acquired a firearm to comply.
Those communities where firearm ownership is banned or strictly limited endure a much higher crime rate. Washington, D.C., and New York city are but two prominent examples. Criminals may be deviant, but they're not stupid and they much prefer communities where they're less likely to encounter armed citizens.
Owning and bearing a firearm carries with it a solemn responsibility for appropriate safety knowledge in handling and storage. Part of Macon/Bibb's plan should address appropriate firearms and safety training for citizens. The Bibb county sheriff's department has trained firearms instructors and a range on which to train citizens how to safely use their weapons. The NRA has firearms instructors for the asking. The NRA has safety programs for children including the Eddie Eagle program that teaches children not to touch firearms but rather go find and tell an adult.
Rather than just talking about crime reduction, Macon and Bibb County's leaders could actually do something constructive. Pass an ordinance encouraging gun ownership by law-abiding citizens.
Copyright Ó1999 Steve Scroggins - All rights