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What's the real issue with gun control?

Posted at: 12/19/2012 12:02 AM
By: Don Hudson

As the nation mourns the loss of life in Newtown Connecticut, the drum beat surrounding gun control is getting louder. Is it the issue of gun control, or something deeper, and much harder to legislate and control?

According to the Wall Street Journal, as a nation, gun related homicides are about half of what they were in 1980. However, random mass shootings, like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, are increasing.

A University of Alabama professor studied data and says in the 1980's there were 18 random mass shootings. In the 1990's, there were 54. Between 2000 and 2010 there were 87 random mass shootings. The question now is why?

"Nobody is safe, not soldiers at Fort Hood, not shoppers in Oregon, not Sikhs in a temple in Wisconsin," says Doctor Marvin McMickle, of the Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School. "Not a 6-year-old, or should we say 6 and 7 year olds in Sandy Hook Elementary School."

Dr. McMickle sums up what many Americans are thinking today: 'Is anyone safe?'

Most of us want to feel safe, and Senator Dianne Feinstein believes she can help. On her website, she says she plans to introduce a bill stopping the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of assault weapons.

She is not alone in her call for more gun control: People here in Rochester are saying the same thing.

Before 1989, there were no assault weapon laws in the U.S., and data shows fewer random shootings. The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. has some of the toughest gun laws ever, and yet we have more random mass shootings.

"Even if you made guns harder to get, someone intent on doing harm like that will get them", says Fred Calcagno, the owner of American Sportsmen in East Rochester.

That leads to one explanation for the increase in mass shootings. Ten years ago, a New York Times study found of out of 100 rampage murders: 47 suspects were mentally ill. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, too many of the mentally ill, who used to be put up in state institutions, are not in treatment today.

That's something Dr. McMickle addressed Tuesday.  "Mental health care to the extent that we can discern that people are in need of it and we can find ways to deliver it," he says.

Another issue: relying on so called "gun free zones" like schools, malls and theaters? USA Today reported four days ago that these zones don't help. A study by professors at the University of Maryland found that nearly every mass shooting recorded has occurred where firearms are banned.

On the subject of gun free zones, another shooting at a mall in Oregon was stopped by a citizen with a gun carrying permit. According to our affiliate in Portland, Nick Meli was legally carrying a gun when the shooter's rifle jammed. Meli says he was afraid to shoot because there were people behind the shooter, but the killer retreated when he saw Meli and then took his own life.

Reports say Adam Lanza played hours and hours of "Call of Duty," a violent online war game. Because of that, gamers are calling for a one day online "cease fire" for this Friday.