I really liked this article from Intellectual Takeout, which had a list of recommendations to reduce gun violence. Although most people today are looking at gun regulations to reduce gun violence, we actually had a lot of guns in previous generations, but a lot less gun violence. Maybe it’s because more people made wiser choices.
The article says:
Don’t commit suicide. This is the most common gun-related death, being about 63% of all firearm deaths in the US.
Adopt a policy of not escalating any road rage situations. If someone does something offensive on the highways have it pre-settled in your mind to react by de-escalating the situation (refrain from responding in kind) and back off to allow the heat of the moment to cool.
Do not join a gang. Violence is the accepted norm among gang members, resulting in many becoming victims of gun violence.
Do not buy or sell illegal drugs. Yes, I do know that it’s the drug laws more than the drugs themselves that leads to gun violence among drug buyers and sellers. But, people already on the wrong side of the law are more likely to commit gun violence than the law-abiding population.
Do not get involved with abusive people. Someone who previously has physically abused a partner is more likely to do so than are those who have never engaged in such abuse.
Implement a personal curfew. The safest place anyone can be at 2am is at home in bed. Roaming the streets in the middle of the night exposes one to gangs, drug sellers, and other dangerous people.
Stay away from Gun Free Zones. One study showed that 98% of all mass shootings happen in these places. Gun Free Zone signs tell violent people this is a spot where the picking will be easy. As for everywhere else, these predators may be deterred since they have to wonder if there’s already a good guy with a gun on the property.
Do not associate with convicted criminals. Like the abuser, violent criminals out of prison are likely to continue their habits.
Be aware of your surroundings. Make it a habit to look around and assess any situation you are in. Most victims of gun violence have no warning of the impending danger, the old saying “to be forewarned is to be forearmed” is pertinent here. So, no staring at your cell phone!
Avoid people who handle guns in an irresponsible manner. Anyone who casually or even unknowingly points a gun at someone or who does not exercise good gun safety such as carefully checking to see that a gun is unloaded is someone to be avoided.
Bonus Suggestion: Do not be a predator. A significant number (about 700 each year) of gun deaths are justifiable homicide wherein a victim successfully defends themselves from criminal assault.
This list of self-control laws is so different than what you see politicians proposing. This list is targeted to individuals, and it is telling them to understand how danger works, and then make adjustments in their choices and priorities in order to minimize the risk. The politicians instead want to blame inanimate objects and take away the rights of law-abiding people to defend themselves from criminals.
Is expecting self-control reasonable?
I have talked to anti-gun people about changing their behavior to minimize their risk of being a victim. Their response was that they shouldn’t have to act any particular way in order to avoid bad consequences. They should just be able to make the government big enough to somehow magically stop bad things from happening to them, no matter what choices they made. Their right to pursue happiness in the moment could not be challenged in any way.
It made me think of women who want to go out wearing skimpy clothes, get drunk in bars surrounded by strange men, and then cry victim when they wake-up somewhere strange the next morning. There is a wisdom to life, and wise people don’t mind that they have to show a little self-control in order to avoid bad outcomes. A woman cannot shack up with a hunky guy who has tattoos, piercings and a criminal record, and then complain when he gets violent. If you choose poorly, then you will face consequences. There is a cost to making choices based on feelings alone.
The same thing happens with people who want to study English, Journalism, and other easy subjects, then can’t find jobs when they graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in loans. “It’s not fair” they say “I need a bailout”. “The government should raise the minimum wage, so I can be paid the same as people who studied hard STEM subjects and got more productive jobs”. Again, the solution is not to blame others and punt to government, the solution is to respect the way the world works and make decisions that are likely to succeed. Don’t let your feelings decide. Don’t do what is free, easy and fun. Don’t chase thrills and travel.
Black economist Walter Williams has a famous list of four choices that he tells young people to make in order to avoid being poor.
Here are his four choices:
- Graduate from high school
- Get married before you have children
- Take any job (to start out)
- Don’t commit any crimes
I have one more to add: when you marry, marry someone who takes commitment seriously, so there is no divorce. Divorce is a wealth-killer. Pick a spouse who is able to make and keep commitments that survive their changing feelings and desires. And maybe one more: study for a STEM degree if you go to college.
Again, if you try to tell young people to make good decisions like those, they don’t want to listen. But making those decisions correctly actually gets them the result they want.
Previous generations tended to emphasize the importance of understanding how the world works, and then making good decisions in order to reach a goal. Those people don’t look to government to solve their problems. This generation seems to be more focused on doing what feels good, then acting surprised when it doesn’t “work out”. They aren’t curious to find out how the world really works so they can do the right thing. They just want to do and say what makes them feel good and look good to others.