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By Thomas E. Gift, MD

An ABC News article was published this week, written by Ivan Pereira, who believes America has a problem with “gun violence.” There is little to recommend in this piece, but he does make one good point when he refers to people developing behavior patterns that. “…make them more prone to violence in all of its forms; violence against partners, violence against the community and violence against themselves….”

This is a message that’s too often overlooked or ignored by those who argue that we should restrict Second Amendment rights. The murders we see on TV or learn about from one source or another arise from tendencies or temptations to harm, injure, or kill others. The story of Cain murdering Abel is among the very earliest morality tales in the Bible.

Unfortunately, Pereira seems to lose sight of this basic truth and gets distracted by the concept of “gun violence.” As is so often the case with those who attack the right to keep and bear arms, he focuses on the tools rather than those who use them.

Pereira quotes Dr. Georges Benjamin, head of the American Public Heal Association as saying with regard to killers using guns, “…some are premeditated acts of aggression, some are domestic disputes, others are part of other crimes such as robberies, but the one common denominator is access to a firearm.” Benjamin only focuses on killings comittted with guns. That’s like saying listening to the radio requires access to a radio.

Benjamin, of course, misses Periera’s other point, expressed more or less in passing in the article, that the real common denominator behind all murders is the intent to do harm.

Early in the piece Periera talks about mass shootings being “…a symbol for some of Americas obsession with guns….” Those who like to watch courtroom dramas may want to leap up and shout, “Objection­, assumes facts not in evidence!“ He also compares the U.S. to some other countries with regard to rates of “gun violence.“ Yet has been pointed out in this column numerous times, when you look at all the world’s countries, the U.S is among the lowest in total homicides.

While from beginning to end Pereira takes an alarmist position as to injuries from the misuse firearms, he presents a couple of graphs — using data from the statistically challenged Gun Violence Archive — showing that in the U.S. deaths and injuries that follow from firearm misuse are actually decreasing. Others have reported the same thing. Readers are told about an “epidemic of injury by firearms” which doesn’t square well with the decline.

What can one conclude from all this? Perhaps, that occasionally the fog lifts just a bit and it can be seen that people often harbor malicious motives and are drawn to commit awful acts. While sometimes these thoughts and acts arise primarily from an individual’s individual psychological make-up, at other times social relationships figure heavily, as in violence perpetrated by street gang members.

Timothy McVeigh killed and injured hundreds with a bomb. Ted Bundy bludgeoned and strangled dozens. Those who seek to act murderously will use whatever means are at their disposal. Their method is the least important part of the equation

 

Thomas E. Gift, MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist practicing in Rochester, New York. He is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical School and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

 

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29 COMMENTS

  1. If you want to get to the cause of mass shootings. I suggest you read the book, “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.

  2. Whether you ascribe to “Let there be light”, or “The Big Bang”, the universe was born in violence. Humanity is not exempt.

    Excerpt from “In Memoriam” – Tennyson

    The wish, that of the living whole
    No life may fail beyond the grave,
    Derives it not from what we have
    The likest God within the soul?

    Are God and Nature then at strife,
    That Nature lends such evil dreams?
    So careful of the type she seems,
    So careless of the single life;

    That I, considering everywhere
    Her secret meaning in her deeds,
    And finding that of fifty seeds
    She often brings but one to bear,

    I falter where I firmly trod,
    And falling with my weight of cares
    Upon the great world’s altar-stairs
    That slope thro’ darkness up to God,

    I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
    And gather dust and chaff, and call
    To what I feel is Lord of all,
    And faintly trust the larger hope.

    LVI
    ‘So careful of the type?’ but no.
    From scarped cliff and quarried stone
    She cries, `A thousand types are gone:
    I care for nothing, all shall go.

    ‘Thou makest thine appeal to me:
    I bring to life, I bring to death:
    The spirit does but mean the breath:
    I know no more.’ And he, shall he,

    Man, her last work, who seem’d so fair,
    Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
    Who roll’d the psalm to wintry skies,
    Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

    Who trusted God was love indeed
    And love Creation’s final law—
    Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
    With ravine, shriek’d against his creed—

      • Thank you. Poe is another of my favorites – in particular; The Conqueror Worm. Many of the great poets were also philosophers and warriors, and had a good understanding of humanity and life.

  3. Human kind is a vicious species, the apex predator of this planet. Is it any wonder that the veneer of civilization is so thin? We cannot deny our basic nature and thus must take steps ensure our basic need for safety. Remember the parable of the frog and the scorpion.
    Thus it has been and so it shall ever be.

    Stay safe, stay armed.

  4. The Rwandan genocide was done with little more than garden tools and a population driven to hate “the others”.

    Killing is a matter of will.

    • “The Rwandan genocide was done with little more than garden tools and a population driven to hate “the others”.”

      POTG need to read a little article in NYMag dot com titled : “No, We Can’t Get a National Divorce There’s growing sentiment for secession, particularly on the right. It should be rejected.” intelligencer/2021/10/no-red-state-rebels-there-will-be-no-secession.html

      It really needs to be read, to understand the mindset involved with them…

      • The comments section of that article is even more informative than the article itself of the arrogance, disdain, and pure hatred the “progressive left” has for anyone who doesn’t share their worldview. Just like in communist countries, the left here would kill any dissenters if they could get away with it.

        As Brandon would say: “Not a joke!”

        • Many years ago, I used to frequent the Jalopnik blog. It was part of the Gawker blog group, so naturally they promoted their other blogs, and I would occasionally take the bait. The comment sections were very revealing, as you said. The extreme hatred of people that looked, thought, or worshiped a particular way was off the charts. This was pre-Trump era, so I can only imagine how bad it got then.

  5. The “mainstream” news media has been lying through its collective teeth about “gun violence” for almost 100 years now. Only an especially dense 36% of Americans (surprise, nearly all Democrats!) trust the press “a great deal or a fair amount” at this point.

    The surprise is that somehow, enough people *still* swallow that bilge to allow whatever narrative the “mainstream” chooses to thrive.

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/355526/americans-trust-media-dips-second-lowest-record.aspx

  6. Well this is very interesting considering if you have been reading about Alec Baldwin who is ultimately responsible as Producer and Shooter for the condition of his firearm and wound up killing someone. The media seems to be implying that the underlings were more responsible than he was. They haven’t come right out and said that but if you read between the lines that is where this looks like it is headed. These folks have no statistics to prove their points and even the FBI stats don’t agree with their narrative. Hands and feet kill more people than rifles.
    Michael Byrd a black man killed Ashli Babbitt a white woman veteran and he is going free despite the fact that there was no reason for him whatsoever to have fired his weapon when she was attempting to climb through the window. The mere act of climbing through a window without a weapon precludes the argument of imminent danger by a 100lb women facing police officers with firearms. So most of this stuff is just an excuse to take your guns which of course we are not going to let them do without a fight.

    • In the overall picture, over 98% of injury and/or non-natural death in the U.S. are related to, or caused by use of or exposure to, something other than guns.

      heck, just a combination of two things, cars and tobacco, are responsible for more non-natural injury and/or death of millions every year than any other combination of two things in U.S. society. On average, 2 million drivers experience a permanent injury every year, and about 40,000 car accident fatalities each year, and about 400,000 die each year from tobacco use or use exposure with another almost 300,000 annually injured through diseases caused by tobacco use or use exposure.

      So even combining crime and guns, in that aspect , guns injure and/or kill far less than a combination of cars and tobacco. Considering all of the millions of legal gun owners in the U.S. and all manner of their legal use of firearms, compared to other forms of non-natural injury and/or death being around or using a gun is 97% safer than being exposed to those other forms.

  7. Interesting that I never hear the term ‘knife violence’ or ‘bludgeoning tool violence’. That is because ‘gun violence’ is a contrived term. Weapons do not kill people. The people that wield them do. The deranged ones do it out of some form of malice, hatred or insanity. Others do it for their own health being faced by the former. Yet, still, some do it out of negligence or stupidity like Alec Baldwin. Regardless, only one should go free. The self-defender. Nature’s law.

    • I’d never heard it either, much, until about 10 years ago when it started becoming a main stream phrase in the media. I mean, we had it before then but they had to coin a term for it with the word “violence” so everything could always be lumped together as “violence”.

      before that it was “knife stabbing” or just “stabbing” or “stabbed”, or a person was attacked and “beat” or “bludgeoned”

      because of all this “term changing” only 22 states out of 50 report all things to the federal data bases, and all 50 states misreport approximately 50 % of their “accidents” as “violence” of some sort, and suicides are routinely reported as intentional suicides when more than 40% of them are accidents, and now only 23 states routinely report to federal databases.

      The suicide thing though, that’s what gets me with how liberal they are with applying that term.

      For example, in 43 states; a person who jokingly says “I should just end it all” is automatically considered at risk of suicide if there is a gun in the home but not considered at risk if there are large amounts of prescription drugs (types of which when taken in excess can cause death) in the home and drug overdose is the main method of suicide. These get reported as “at risk” in stats and falsely inflate the numbers. Another example, (one that’s actually happened) a worker on a tall building roof top jokes about jumping off the building into the swimming pool below, then while working he actually accidentally falls off the building due to equipment defect – it goes in the stats as intentional suicide and when the error is discovered its never changed. These accidents reported as intentional suicide also falsely inflate the suicide numbers. Misreporting is rampant in the reporting systems at state and federal level, its estimated that 65% of the reported suicide by gun were actually accidents.

      • “Misreporting is rampant in the reporting systems at state and federal level, its estimated that 65% of the reported suicide by gun were actually accidents.”

        was suppose to be

        “Misreporting is rampant in the reporting systems at state and federal level, its estimated that 65%, collectively, of the reported suicide by gun were actually accidents or murder.”

  8. “An ABC News article was published this week, written by Ivan Pereira”

    and reviewed by

    “Thomas E. Gift, MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist”

    How…..appropriate

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