One of the things I tried to learn following Dr. W. Edwards Deming was to diagram “cause and effect” (see reference below). Looking at a problem, what were the possible causes of that problem? One of the stories I loved was that of Don Ardell’s “Upstream-Downstream” — how the people of Downstream worked so hard to rescue people who had fallen into the river upstream of them. The result of their approach to the problem was that they became experts in water rescue.
After many years of perfecting their water rescue and resuscitation techniques (they even built a special hospital to address the problem), a young person who was visiting Downstream asked an important and life-altering question, “Why hadn’t anyone from Downstream gone up river to Upstream and find out why so many people were falling into the river?”
That’s where I think we are today with the matter of gun violence. We think of scores of other ways to try and manage the problem than the obvious one.
Police officers are being killed by handguns, the probability today of a police officer encountering a citizen with a firearm is quite high, hundreds of young, black men kill each other in intra-city violence, and deaths by suicide with a firearm continue to soar.
What is our response? We talk about gun violence as a major public health issue, we talk about conflict resolution, anger management, and keeping peace among youth gangs, yet we continue to pass legislation that blocks most the sane approaches to gun control — like 48-hour waiting periods for gun purchases, testing a potential gun owner’s knowledge of the law, their knowledge of gun safety procedures, and testing their firearms proficiency and accuracy.
The fact is that guns are killing us and we seem unable to go Upstream and find the real cause of this: There are too many handguns on the street.
When are we going to understand this? When are our police going to speak up about what’s harming them?
One of the reasons we have a trained, armed police in our society so that ordinary citizens don’t have to carry guns to defend themselves; that’s what police do.
I know this seems like an uphill battle given what many of us believe to be a wrong interpretation of our Second Amendment by the Supreme Court. But causes are causes – and the proliferation and lack of control and regulation of handguns is causing the deaths of too many of us.
Guns are causing folks to fall into the river Upstream.
It’s time to say no to the possession of handguns outside the home and do something about it.
For more about diagraming “cause and effect” see this: http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/cause-analysis-tools/overview/fishbone.html
Based on my reading of your posts over the past few months, you totally surprised me with your point of view on gun control. Even in your anaology, it was not the river that was the problem, and it is not the guns pulling the triggers in our society. It is indeed a much deeper cause creating the effect we are experiencing. Your perspective on this one sounds contradictory to the solid foundation of your previous blogs. Of course, that’s just my perspective…
With deep respect,
Myrna, I appreciate your comments. The matter of guns in America is a real problem. I wish there was an easy solution (smart guns?), but I am afraid that it is something in which we all will have to struggle. I just wish we could get find some common ground, some agreed-upon exploration, to begin the necessary work to reduce the events of gun violence in our nation. Peace.
The problem is politicians like the money they get from NRA so they vote down the 24 hour waiting and any other thing that would bring his under control. If the politicians were getting killed like the police, laws would change.
Gun rights are interesting here in Pennsylvania.
The state constitutional provision (Art. I, Sec. 21) analogous to the federal Second Amendment doesn’t have a militia clause, so it’s always been pretty clear that an individual right is being protected.
Also, as with many issues, there can be a significant difference of opinion between residents of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metro areas, and the rest of the state.
Look up the word INSANITY;
If we keep pushing civil rights, keep selling guns to emotional unstable people and keep protecting gun makers and gun peddlers/sellers from being responsible for the numbers killed the problem folks, WILL NOT GO AWAY.
It’s like selling booze to a drunk and when he takes off with his vehicle and kills someone we move in to hold him accountable. The problem will not go away until we hold those that make and sell the poison to people.
The Love of Money is the ROOT of ALL EVIL.
A lot of cops are Second Amendment advocates and keep plenty of guns in their residence so why should they be so surprised with so many guns in America? You also have right wing think tank organizations like ALEC that are working to eliminate or weaken gun laws in all 50 states.
The evidence to date indicates that suicide by firearm rates drop when there is a purchase waiting period. The question now becomes normative: Am I willing to forego immediate purchase of a firearm to reduce the suicide rate? At the risk of sounding callous, my answer is a resounding NO. I have no problem helping those who suffer from depression. I believe we should have a much more robust mental health system in America.
The evidence indicates that no other form of gun legislation has any effect on firearm violence. As a practical matter, the cat is out of the bag. The fantasy of replicating Australia’s firearm round up ignores the empirical evidence that in nearby New Zealand (a similar culture) firearms were not rounded up and firearm violence in both nations continued to fall, as was the trend line before.
My personal belief is that liberals need to stop howling at the moon about guns and conservatives need to stop howling at the moon about immigration. We are not going round up all the guns in America, just like we’re not going to round up 11 million undocumented aliens. Americans don’t do that. When all the howling subsides perhaps we can look for practical ways to solve our problems.
While I may not agree, I will engage and listen! Thanks for this, Mark.