There seems to be a lot of concern in our state legislature over gun control.

Because of various nationwide mass shootings, there’s a belief that tighter restrictions on basic citizen rights to bear arms will somehow reverse this unfortunate trend. But do the facts support this premise?

Years ago, there were far less mass shootings. Yet firearms and ammunition were readily available to just about any law-abiding citizen. Guns were not feared by the media, but actually glorified through cop and cowboy shows found on television and in the movies.

Just about every kid wanted a toy cap pistol that resembled what Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy had, or at least a replication of a snub nose .38 Special, carried by fictional police hero, Joe Friday.

Conflicts in these shows were often solved by gunfire. But that doesn’t mean these fantasized solutions were transferred to the real world. One must ask what happened to common sense over the last several years?

There are many answers to this question, ranging from a shift in cultural values to an angry and divided society — along with more abstract concepts of justice. In previous times, there was a definite line between the good guys and the bad guys. Most people knew the difference.

So now the question becomes: Will more laws restricting guns and ammunition reverse any of these modern social trends? So far, there is no credible evidence that any of California’s gun laws (the strictest in the country) have made any difference in violent crime rates. According to noted researcher Dr. John Lott, when all relevant factors are considered, there is no statistical difference among states with tough gun laws vs. those with loose firearm restrictions.

So what about Europe where it is almost impossible for citizens to own most types of common firearms? Actually, some of the worse mass shootings have taken place there. For example, in 2015, France actually had more deaths from mass firearm attacks than the United States. A few years ago in the United Kingdom, a crazed gunman killed 16 children and a teacher at a primary school.

Of course, there are other incidences in both countries as well.

Mexico also has strict gun laws. But in 2017, 29,000 people were murdered via gun violence. In Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, the rates per capita were even higher.

Some may argue that these are isolated cases and perhaps so. However, one thing is clear: Most gun restrictions do nothing to end mass killings, but they do make it impossible for responsible citizens to fight back against this type of terrorism — whether these heinous acts are organized or individually initiated.

In 2017, the U.S. had approximately 15,549 murders by firearms. Most involved inner-city street gangs fighting over drug territory. Often, U.S. statistics published on gun deaths are much higher because suicides are included, which distort overall numbers.

An additional point promoted by gun control advocates is that issuance of concealed weapon permits should be highly restricted. They believe violent crime increases in states where these permits are readily available. But is this thinking driven by emotion or fact?

When emotions are in the driver’s seat, facts become meaningless. A recent study released at the American College of Surgeons Forum in 2018, reviewed the issue of concealed weapons permits. The study is based on statistical data gathered from various governmental agencies covering a period from 1986-2015. Its authors found there was no significant difference in homicides, along with other violent crimes, when states with lax concealed laws and those with strict conditions were compared.

So when the facts are known, why do some politicians insist on going down the same old road of ineffective, restrictive legislative policies? The excuse is either, “We haven’t done enough” or, another state or a gun rights organization is responsible for inhibiting our solutions.

There could be a hidden sinister motive as well. Politicians who want complete and unquestioned control over their populations ban guns. Most, if not all totalitarian countries do so.

The U.S. is unique in its constitutional right for individual ownership of firearms. But words on a piece of parchment may not make any difference in coming years. For the future, either an informed or uninformed public will most likely determine the outcome of this continuous controversy.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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