First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas.  It was a senseless act of violence that has tragically become commonplace over the last 5 years.

With this most recent shooting, gun control legislation has found its way into political debates very quickly, even too soon after the tragedy in the opinion of many people.  But, the question remains – would a gun ban actually be successful in effectively removing guns and preventing mass shootings? Those in favor of banning guns commonly point to Australia as a beacon of gun control gone right, but the true effect hasn’t really shown it has been as successful as touted.   Regardless, using a policy passed over 20 years ago by a country with different values and no bordering countries is irresponsible, and frankly, downright foolish.

Rather than look for similar gun laws in other countries, a more apt comparison would be looking at U.S bans on other federally restricted items, such as drugs, alcohol during prohibition, and local bans on certain types of firearms – all of which have failed miserably.

Prohibition

Let’s roll back the clock to the 1920’s and 1930’s to a time when alcohol was banned.  The federal government decided it would be a good idea to ban alcohol in the country, and in doing so, they created a thriving black market.  Who benefits from a black market?  Criminals.  And thanks to prohibition, the black market for alcohol led to organized crime syndicates, led by Al Capone and the Mafia, and gave them unprecedented power and control throughout the country.  The Mob that still exists today, over 75 years later, is still a direct result of the failed ban on alcohol that led to the power and proliferation of organized crime. You could easily replace alcohol with guns, and this would be the same story.

Drug War 

Enough with the history lesson, let’s focus on today.  The U.S. government’s long war against drugs.  Everyone knows of the Latin American drug cartels which smuggle tons and tons of drugs into the country each year.  Despite all of the efforts to prevent this, it actually seems like illegal drugs are more accessible now than ever. How can this be, though? They are banned, so no one should have access to them, right?  What if I were to tell you that organized crime cartels by definition don’t obey the law, so they still continue to transport illegal substances into the country and sell them to whoever wants to buy? Again, you could easily replace drugs with guns, and this would the same story.

Chicago Gun Control

A well publicized gun control law is already in place, and if you follow the news, you know it would be an understatement to say the policy has been unsuccessful in Chicago.    Many who defend the ban say the outrageous rates of gun violence that still exist well after the passing of the legislation are due to illegal guns (shocker) or legally purchased guns in other states with less stringent gun laws, like neighboring Indiana.  While the latter is true, this logic should serve as an example as to why a nationwide ban would not be effective.  Just as guns flow easily over the Indiana – Illinois border to undermine the ban, the inability to protect the nation’s southern border would see the same situation unfold at the Mexico – United States border.

Basic supply and demand economics would tell you that a ban on guns would only make smuggling them more profitable for organized crime cartels.  A decrease in the supply via legal routes, with the demand at the same level, would send prices through the roof. In other words, cartels would reap huge profits.

People will always find a way to acquire something they want, and if you take away legal channels of distribution, a drug cartel or the Mob is eagerly waiting in the wings to supply that demand.  Certainly, a solution needs to be created to remedy the increase in mass shootings, but the current legislation being discussed by Congressional members on Twitter wouldn’t actually prevent the shootings like the one that happened in Las Vegas. To truly prevent these tragedies, the problem must be examined holistically.  Guns have always been easily accessible in this country, but it seems like mass shootings have only become commonplace in recent years. So, why is that? Some have pointed to the drastic increase of the population being on prescription drugs, which we touched on here, but the answer to this question needs to be answered to understand how to truly prevent future tragedies.  There are certainly loopholes that need to be closed and increased scrutiny during background checks needs to be implemented, but banning guns won’t solve anything.

I know this is a very polarizing topic, and the difficulty many people have is what the definition of “gun control” actually means.  As people run around saying we need more gun control, the people listening have no idea what that ambiguous phrase means – it could be mean anything from more background checks to total gun confiscation.

Please let me know what gun control means to you in the comments below.

Title Image via ”handgun” by Robert Nelson is licensed under CC BY 2.0