Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gun control

There is a strange disconnect in the gun control argument when it comes to Israel.  In Israel all young men and women are drafted into the IDF (excluding haredim and Arabs) and while serving they carry their guns with them in public.  It is quite common to see young men and women toting guns walking around any town or sitting in buses. Remarkably noone fears them with their guns, there are very few cases of soldiers misusing their guns for non-military purposes.  The idea of having guns everywhere is that terrorists can attack anywhere and so there will usually be a trained soldier nearby with a gun to counter-attack.  Although there have been a few cases, such as family feuds, where young soldiers have misused their guns, these are very rare.
This would not work in the US, where the guns are not only in the hands of soldiers, but in those of anyone who cares to buy one.  Even the supposedly stringent checks cannot prevent assault weapons falling into the wrong hands, as happened in Newtown, Conn, where Adam Lanza used his mother's guns.  Coming from Britain where the use of guns is relatively rare, it seems the best policy is simply to ban guns totally from the public sphere.  But, the US is not Britain, and there is not only a valid argument that people should have access to guns, to prevent a suppressive government, but also there is a mystique and a familiarity of many Americans with gun ownership.
How to keep guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed loners?  Clearly the first and best move is to ban military-style assault rifles altogether, their only use is for killing people.  Also, the expanded clips that go with them should be banned.  Other rifles, used for hunting should not be banned, but their ownership should be closely controlled.  It should be an offense to allow another person, even a relative to take such a legal gun from its owner. Also, the questions is should there be armed guards at every school, as there are at Israeli schools.  Unfortunately this is impossible, there are simply too many schools (100,000) in America.  But, the police should be tasked with seeing that schools are secure and there should be a panic button in every school that can be pressed in case of emergency. 
On the other side, we know that most of the shooters in schools and other public buildings commit suicide. Young male loners who show psychotic and suicidal tendencies should be targeted for remedial treatment and even if necessary be institutionalized.  I know this goes against the "innocent until proven guilty" rubric of democratic societies, but society must also protect itself form theses maniacs.  Its just like terrorism, actually it is terrorism, we must take suitable and rational action before the terrorist carries out his murderous aims. 


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