Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Who's blowing those pipes and where is he leading us?

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
-Buffalo Springfield-

Another day, another school shooting, or so it seems.  It's not clear yet, as I write this, just what happened to the perpetrator except that he's dead and I'm only using the male pronoun because face it, almost all rampage shooters are male.  The only other facts available at the moment are that one person was killed and that the weapon used was "semiautomatic" which is really of no import but that it excites people who have no idea what that means and are afraid of guns, which is precisely the effect the media desire because it pins us all to the tube.

But it does seem that it's not only a growing thing, but a rapidly growing thing, but perhaps once again, impressions can be deceiving particularly when there's a strong desire to make it a political issue. 

Actually it may be otherwise and if  one looks for patterns, it might seem that rampage shootings on the whole reached a peak, along with violent crime in general, in the 1980's and has tapered off since and the Sandy Hook incident looks almost anomalous.  That certainly is not the impression I get from the news.

So lets look further back and let's average it out per period  and use the per capita figures to adjust for the exploding population to make it easier to differentiate noise from trends and it seems the years from 1980 through 1990 were indeed a maximum.  I might be tempted to say we're at a similar rate to what we had during the Great Depression.

 I might be tempted to mention that one of the largest gun control programs  dates to 1967 and that violent crime accelerated sharply thereafter.  There was a big bump during prohibition and a minimum during the 'Fabulous 50's' as Ike used to call it, but off the top of my head, that 1980 to 1990 period coincided with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  Make of that what you will and I'm sure one can look at other trends and events and conditions and make correlations and speculate about causation,  Does it show a marked effect of gun control milestone legislation like the 1967 restrictions on types of weapons, the end of mail order sales, the end of "saturday night specials,"  waiting periods, gun owner registrations and the like?  I don't see it. I see a long term downward trend. 

"Too many guns!"  is a favorite explanation for a trend that may be apparent without actually being true, but again, the number of households with guns seems to be steadily declining and while US gun production is up, it might have a bit to do with the 13 years of war we've suffered through. Fewer people have an inclination to have guns in the house and although it's easy to dismiss the positive correlation of gun ownership per capita with gun crime of any kind,  we're just not being objective if we see more guns everywhere.

Really, just what is happening here?  More than one thing certainly, but we can't rule out politics -- not in everything at a time when politics determines what we perceive in all things. What it is, ain't exactly clear but it's clear to me that there's a piper making some kind of music and we just can't seem to resist following him.

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