Is gun control a security issue or a political cop out?

Despite outrage following mass shootings, issue remains a political hot potato


Like many gun owners, Baker thinks that more personal accountability and enforcement of existing gun laws would help mitigate some of the threats. Talking with Baker via phone this week, he is extremely passionate about the tenants of responsible gun ownership. "If as a gun owner you invoke your Second Amendment rights, then you better be prepared to consider the environment you are bringing firearms into and how you plan to treat them in your space,” he said. "Like anything else that poses potential risk to you and others, employing a little common sense goes a long way!"

Baker used the example of one of the Columbine shooters, whose parents purchased weapons for his recreational use despite the fact he was under psychiatric care for major depression and a violent personality disorder. "We do need gun control when you have parents who selfishly or irresponsibly introduce firearms into an environment where there is known risk."

As the gun control issue regained the spotlight last month, some lawmakers and health professionals also pushed for more efforts to research the connection between gun violence and the mentally ill. In several of the 14 mass killings mentioned in this story, there was direct correlation to a mental impairment –either a brain tumor as in the case of University of Texas gunman Charles Whitman in 1966, or substantiated mental illness attributed to the Virginia Tech killer in 2007.

As Robert J. Spitzer, chairman of the political science department at the State University of New York College at Cortland and the author of four books on gun policy, including "The Politics of Gun Control" recently wrote in an article in the Washington Post, "few crimes are more heinous than the killing of children. But schools are safer for kids than their homes or the streets. Out of a school-age population of roughly 50 million, the number of violent school deaths between 1992 and 2010 did not exceed 63 per year, according to the National Centerfor Education Statistics. In other words, the odds of a child dying from a violent attack at school are literally one in a million."

When you consider that more than 500 gun-related murders were committed in Chicago in 2012 alone – more than double the number of mass shooting victims since 1949 – it is obvious political and community leaders have no stomach for tackling the systemic causes of gun fatalities.