This short essay is a response to a recent segment of the Community Conversation series sponsored by the Tri-City Herald and the Dispute Resolution Center of the Tri-Cities.
This segment's topic -- gun control and the Second Amendment -- was covered on two consecutive nights.
The Dispute Resolution facilitators handled a contentious issue with professional calm. I highly recommend participating in future Community Conversations.
After two nights we had decided two things:
1. Gun ownership is a right under the federal and state constitutions.
2. Owning and/or carrying a gun is a choice.
I have studied guns for many years for my job as an English Professor at Columbia Basin College. In my basic writing course, students are assigned a research project on gun control. I provide thousands of pages of documents on both sides of the issue, ranging from emotional argument to professional opinion to statistical facts.
The issue is too complex to adequately cover in a short article, so I will focus on one thing and relate it to some of the basic issues. The focus is easy right now because we are coming off a mass shooting in Colorado and the media frenzy that always follows.
The incident brings to mind a saying common to the political segment that advocates a police state: "Never waste a good crisis."
A crisis is politically useful because it generates high pathos, followed by outrage. The usual solution we hear -- and are hearing now -- is to ban guns. The intuitive result is a gun ban will remove the threat of gun violence.
However, the reality is a gun ban will increase crime and shootings. The actual solution to gun violence is counter-intuitive: Add more guns in the hands of good citizens to stop gun violence, especially mass shootings.
England, in response to a mass school shooting, confiscated all private guns. The intuitive conclusion is they stopped further gun crime. False. The result was that crime in general -- and gun crime specifically -- increased dramatically. And they had more mass shootings. Criminals did not obey the law.
The same thing will happen here if we follow the hysterical outcry to get rid of guns.
In America, the areas with the strongest gun control are the highest general crime and gun crime areas. When gun control measures are relaxed or removed and citizens are granted the right to carry, general crime and gun crime go down.
Compared with Aurora, more people have died one or two or three at a time in Chicago (a city that already bans guns) over the past few weeks, but there is no media frenzy over them because there is no pathos-generating crisis.
The Colorado event is just another example of a highly unusual anomaly of social behavior. Most social behaviors are not clustered around one end of a spectrum because there will always be at least one person or group to act as outliers.
But mass shootings in America all fit into the same category: All mass shootings happen in "no gun" zones. 100 percent. This is unique in human behaviors.
Listen -- Your real enemy is any political leader who is so dishonest or delusional as to promise you a gun ban is best in the face of overwhelming factual evidence to the contrary.
The real political goal there is taking a cornerstone of your freedom and placing you and your loved ones in real danger by increasing crime and removing your ability to resist it. Then we have another incident, another frenzy, another outcry, another round of restrictions, and another successful political assault on your freedom.
w Dave Abbott was born and raised on a wheat ranch in Whitman County. He has been a surveyor, truck driver, carpenter and general contractor. He's a Vietnam-era veteran and holds a master's degree in English from Washington State University. Abbott has taught writing and literature for 32 years at WSU, University of Minnesota-Morris and CBC.