You may have read the article, "Five Solutions to Gun Violence."
It contained five proposals, each of which if implemented, would reduce gun violence -- if that is what the American public wants.
The title question is, "does the American public really wish to reduce gun violence," or does it prefer to address small side problems, while pretending it is doing something about the main cause of gun violence?
The "more-guns = less-gun-violence" myth is akin to "more anger = fewer anger crimes," or "more greed = fewer crimes of greed."
Reality doesn't work that way.
If you really want to make sure someone stays lost, then give him a bad roadmap. Sending him on a wild goose chase will waste his time and energy far better than simply doing nothing.
In that vein, today I saw an article titled, "Omar Mateen, an 'Americanized Guy,' Shows Threat of Lone Terrorists" Here are a few excerpts to show how far off course we have been sent:
Omar Mateen had been on a terrorism watch list for incendiary comments he once made to co-workers at a local courthouse.
But the F.B.I. soon ended its examination of Mr. Mateen after finding no evidence that he posed a terrorist threat to his community.
Thus, we see the beginnings of the "blame the FBI" bad roadmap. The notion is that if only the FBI had done its job, Mateen would have been prevented from killing all those people in Orlando.
That is what the gun manufacturers want you to believe. They want you to waste your time, energy, and intellect trying to find ways to make the FBI better able to stop gun violence. They want you to follow a bad roadmap.
The government investigation could take months, but an early examination of Mr. Mateen's life reveals a hatred of gay people.
This is the second bad roadmap -- the search for reasons why this individual did what he did.
The hope is that if we knew he killed those people because he hated gay people, we could prevent future killings by . . . by what?
By somehow convincing bigots that gay people are good people? Is that the plan upon which we will expend thousands of hours and millions of words?
He was a man who could be charming, loved Afghan music and enjoyed dancing, but he was also violently abusive.
Family members said he was not overly religious, but he was rigid and conservative in his view that his wife should remain mostly at home.
The F.B.I. director said on Monday that Mr. Mateen had once claimed ties to both Al Qaeda and Hezbollah -- two radical groups violently opposed to each other.
He could act like the NRA's mythical "good guy," and he also could act like a "bad guy." No news there. That describes millions of Americans. Where does that lead us in any effort to reduce gun violence?
Investigators now face the question of how much the killings were the act of a deeply disturbed man, as his former wife and others described him, and how much he was driven by religious or political ideology.
Let's say that after wasting months of tedious investigation, we conclude he was "deeply disturbed" (whatever that means). What then? How does "deeply disturbed" get us one inch closer to preventing the next gun murder?
Arrest all the "deeply disturbed people, forever?
Unlike Al Qaeda, which favors highly organized and planned operations, the Islamic State has encouraged anyone to take up arms in its name, and uses a sophisticated campaign of social media to inspire future attacks by unstable individuals with no history of embracing radical Islam.
So, shall we search for all the "unstable individuals with no history of embracing radical Islam"?
How many millions of those do you think live in America? What about your dopey brother-in-law, or your goofy next-door neighbor. Are they unstable, with no history of embracing radical Islam?
What shall we do when find them? Arrest them all and keep them in jail indefinitely, for being "unstable"?
Mr. Mateen might have been gay but chose to hide his true identity out of anger and shame.
A senior federal law enforcement official said on Monday that the F.B.I. was looking at reports that Mr. Mateen had used a gay dating app, and patrons of Pulse were quoted in news reports as saying that he had visited the club several times.
So he may have been a guy ashamed of his identity. Should the FBI arrest all Americans who secretly are insecure about some aspect of their lives?
He came to the F.B.I.'s attention in 2013, when some of his co-workers reported that he had made inflammatory comments claiming connections to overseas terrorists, and saying he hoped that the F.B.I. would raid his family's home so that he could become a martyr.
The F.B.I. opened an investigation and put Mr. Mateen on a terrorist watch list for nearly a year.
Mr. Mateen said he had made the incendiary remarks "in anger" because his co-workers had ridiculed his Muslim background and he wanted to scare them. The F.B.I. closed its investigation and took him off the terrorist watch list.
The F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Mateen a third time, but determined that his ties to the suicide bomber were not significant. The bureau had no further contact with Mr. Mateen.
Mr. Comey defended the work of his agents, although the bureau's handling of the case is likely to be the subject of scrutiny and criticism in the coming weeks.
They interviewed him multiple times and put him on a terrorist watch list, all to no avail. Meanwhile, the gun industry laughs at their efforts, for none of this has any effect on gun violence. It's all misdirection.
In fact, the inevitable failures to prevent gun violence beget more gun purchases. Orlando will prove to be another financial windfall to the gun makers, as more people are sold on the false notion that carrying a gun will protect them from future mass murders.
Still, cases such as these rankle F.B.I. counterterrorism agents, who believe they draw criticism for any choices they make -- either for leaving cases open too long, or for closing cases that don't seem to have enough evidence.
Don Borelli, a retired F.B.I. counterterrorism supervisor in New York, said there was a danger in criticizing agents who close investigations for lack of evidence. "Can we allow people's futures to be affected if there is no proven basis for it? That's the flip side to all this," he said.
Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general, told reporters on Monday that the Justice Department might look to adopt new procedures that would alert counterterrorism investigators if someone who had been on a terror watch list tried to buy a gun.
And if she had been alerted, then what? How would Ms. Yates use that information to prevent future shootings?
"Why did he do this?" his father asked. "He was born in America. He went to school in America. He went to college -- why did he do that? I am as puzzled as you are."
To prevent our finding answers, the gun lobby and their voice, the politicians, has led us down a number of false paths. The purpose is to misdirect us.
They say we should scatter our efforts by asking:
--"Why did he do it?"
--"What can be done about terrorism?"
--"What can be done about mass murder?"
--"What can be done about undocumented immigrants?"
--"What can be done about Muslims?"
--"What can be done about the mentally unstable?"
--"What can be done about hatred and bigotry?"
--"What can be done to preserve gun rights?"
Thousands of Americans are shot every year. Only a tiny percentage are shot by terrorists, mass murderers, the mentally unstable, undocumented foreigners, Muslims, or bigots. The vast majority of shootings are done by people who do not fit into any of the above categories.
The shooters are people who suddenly get angry, or who want to steal something, or who are part of a street gang guarding its turf. They are husbands and wives and children. They are smart and stupid.
Trying to solve the problems of terrorism, mass murder, the mentally unstable, etc., will make only the most minuscule difference in the overall shooting statistics. Each of these problems is more a diversion than a path to a solution.
That is the gun lobby's plan. Change the subject. Change the focus, so no solution can be found.
The gun lobby doesn't want you to know this, but the one common denominator for those thousand of American shootings is the easy availability of guns.
Anyone in America can buy a gun. Even if you are a convicted sex offender, multiple murderer, proven terrorist, child molester out on bail, you easily and legally can buy a gun.
Simply go to a gun show. Simply buy one online. Simply buy one from your neighbor or from a stranger in the street.
There is one, and only one way to reduce the vast number of gun murders: Reduce the availability of guns. Period.
Today, we hear politicians and media pundits debating everything from terrorism to insanity, pretending they are looking for solutions to all the gun murders. It's all a facade, a pretense.
It's like preventing dog bites by putting up a "no-collies allowed" sign. Even if the sign worked, and you eliminated all collies, there still will be thousands of dog bites.
The only way dramatically to reduce the number of shootings is to reduce the availability of guns as described in: Five Solutions to Gun Violence:
--Interpret the Constitution properly
--Remove the profit motive from gun manufacture and sales
--Greater penalties for gun carry during felonies
--Make gun ownership expensive; tax and license gun ownership
If we don't do this, the gun lobby will continue to have us chasing our tails, searching in the wrong places for small solutions to small problems, while the big problem continues to bedevil us.
We return to the question that started this post: Does the American public really wish to reduce gun violence, or does it prefer to address small side problems, while pretending it is doing something about the main cause of gun violence?
Economist since 1995. Wrote the book, FREE MONEY. Economics blog is at http://www.rodgermmitchell.wordpress.com. Also maintain a site at www.rodgermitchell.com
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