Our View: There’s no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to curbing violence
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
In his regular update to the Cloquet City Council last week, Deputy Police Chief Terry Hill reported an increase in public Permit to Purchase Firearm applications over the last several weeks. This no doubt coincides with the wake of the most recent school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the ensuing debate over gun control.
Our area is by no means alone.
According to Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services, the day after the shootings at Sandy Hook, gun sales rose some 180 percent over the same day the year before.
In fact, retailers all over the country began reporting increased sales of both firearms and ammunition as outraged politicians and members of the general public began an outcry to have certain military-style firearms and semi-automatic weapons outlawed and background checks made universal for all types of gun sales.
According to the Huffington Post, the owner of a North Carolina-based gun shop claimed the tragedy and its aftermath were “pushing sales through the roof,” and compared it to “putting gasoline on a fire.”
This phenomenon is nothing new. The Huffington Post also reported that in Arizona, one-day gun sales jumped 60 percent after a gunman killed six people in a Tucson parking lot and wounded others, including then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. In Colorado, after 12 people were killed inside a suburban movie theater in July, background checks for gun purchases reportedly spiked 41 percent.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, these checks have reportedly spiked again, reaching a record high for the year. Much the same happened again after President Obama’s recent gun control speech, lobbying for bans on certain weapons and calling for more widespread background checks.
And so, what does all of this mean? Are we to fear that armed militias are forming to defend the people’s Second Amendment rights? Can we expect to see more mass shootings and human tragedies than ever as a result of the flood of new firearms in the public? That’s probably unlikely. After all, isn’t human nature prone to crave most anything that is apt to be in short supply? When meteorologists forecast that a blizzard is imminent, people flock to the grocery stores and wipe out much of the food supply. If a hurricane is headed for the coastline, generators begin literally flying off the store shelves. When the Hostess Company announced recently that it was going out of business, sales of Twinkies rose to unprecedented levels.
Not to minimize the potential danger of gun violence in any way, we should nonetheless keep the recent surge in gun sales in perspective and realize that it is more of a reaction than an insidious action to be feared in and of itself.
What’s more important, it seems, is keeping the dialogue going that all of these most recent events have precipitated, and try to come up with some sort of consensus on how best to address the violence that is plaguing our world.
Guns can be terrifying weapons, to be sure, but so can the human psyche. Rather than focus on one particular ill, we need to address this crisis from every angle and not fool ourselves into believing that there is some sort of – if you’ll excuse the pun – “silver bullet” that will turn everything around.
Be willing to listen to what your neighbors, your politicians and your President have to say, and become part of that dialogue yourself.