NEW YORK (BTSNews) Jan. 16, 2013 -- FBI, police departments and elected officials around the nation, take heed. Tougher gun control laws may push homicides and mass murders in a truly horrific new direction. If recent attempted shootings and bombings are any indication, tighter gun laws will likely have no other effect than to push killers and mass murderers towards true acts of domestic terrorism.
With its quick passage of the nation's strictest gun control laws, New York State has raised the bar in the gun control debate. Democrat Gov. Cuomo pushed hard for the legislation which bans all assault weapons, limits magazine capacities in all guns to seven rounds, and imposes broad regulations to keep guns out the hands of the mentally ill. Saying "It's not just the first bill, it's the best bill," the Governor compared gun control to a public health issue, with guns as a "scourge on society." Legislators such as Sen. Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat, viewed the new gun laws as "setting the mark for the rest of the country to do what's right." Today, President Obama moved forward at the federal level to impose new gun control laws.
BEHIND THE SCENES, however, the efficacy of gun control laws remains disputed because such laws only drive the real problem -- homicides and mass murders -- in different directions. Homicides in New York declined generally over the past decade, whether perpetrated with guns or other weapons, such as knives. But as gun-related killings dropped in New York, knife-related killings increased, according to a study conducted by the New York Times. As Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department said in 2008, “We may have made it harder for killers to get their hands on guns. Knives are still easily and legally acquired.” Law enforcement officials admit that killings with knives or cutting instruments are harder to combat and prevent than guns homicides because they are more easily obtained and concealed.
But even if strict gun control laws materially reduced homicides in New York, similar gun control measures across the country have not had the same result. Washington D.C. had handgun laws so strict they were recently declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, yet Washington, D.C. leads the nation in gun-related homicides per capita according to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics.
Similarly, California had the #1 ranked toughest gun laws in the nation prior to New York's new legislation, but still had the 5th highest per capita gun violence ranking in the nation, the 8th highest ranking for gun-related homicides, and the #1 ranking for violent crime by a wide margin. Hawaii, ranked #6 for gun control toughness, had the lowest firearm death rate in the nation, but had the third highest "other weapon" death rate in the nation.
The data also suggest that where tough guns control laws successfully suppress gun-related homicides, as in Massachusetts with the 3rd toughest gun control laws, knife-related homicides skyrocket, placing Massachusetts second in the nation. Where gun control is ineffective in suppressing gun-related homicides, as in California, knife-related deaths drop, placing the state at #30 for knife-related homicides.
In other words, gun control or no, homicides and mass murders can and, unfortunately, will continue to occur, just in different forms. And in a terrorism-filled, post-9/11 world, that form could be bombs and other acts of terrorism, as was the case in Aurora, Colorado, the recent attempted shooting at a high school in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and the recent attempted mall bombings in Maryland, Littleton, Colorado, Denver, Colorado and Columbine, Colorado.
If past experience with gun control is any indication, tighter gun laws will be no more effective in curbing the total number of homicides than it has in the past. Worse, recent mass murder attempts show it could push killers toward true acts of domestic terrorism. If we really want to make our streets, malls, theaters and schools safer, then perhaps we should try reduce all homicides by addressing their persistent, well-known -- but conveniently ignored -- primary driving forces: lack of education, poverty, unemployment, mental illness and inequality.
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