Don Mallicoat

The Great Gun Debate


By Don Mallicoat –

It seems like every outdoor writer and blogger in the world has waded in on the debate going on in this country about gun control. If you haven’t heard about it your name is Rip Van Winkle. So I guess it is time for me to add my two cents worth. After all, I’ve been shooting and owning guns for nearly 50 years. I own a gun store. You probably already know where my allegiances are. Before I do let me offer a little background as to where I draw my conclusions.

I spent my first career as an Army officer having earned my commission through ROTC. One of the things we learned early on as combat arms officers was the Five Paragraph Field Order. Once we were given a mission we went through an analysis process looking at all factors that influenced the mission: enemy, weather, terrain, available resources. We considered all courses of action and chose the best course based on those factors.

After ending my military career I worked in Quality Improvement in healthcare. In the improvement process we always did a root cause analysis. Again, we looked at all the factors that influenced an identified problem and made a decision or developed improvement plans based on those factors that had the greatest cause and effect. So most of my life was spent analyzing all the factors that cause a problem and attacking it based on where the greatest impact could be achieved. And that is what is missing from the great gun control debate: making decisions based on fact.

Now that is probably not unique to this issue. Politicians are like water, they follow the path of least resistance. It is easier to blame an inanimate object than analyze the situation and choose the right course of action. We have to attach an emotional name to something to gain support to achieve the end. That’s how we come up with terms like “assault weapon.” Technically, an assault weapon is anything you use to assault another person whether it is a gun, baseball bat or knife. The same thing with the infamous “gun show loophole.” Really? I’ve sold guns at Gun Shows and have to do background checks on all sales. There is no loophole.

What should be happening in this debate is a factual study of causes for gun violence in this country. To the best of my knowledge none of the guns used in recent violent acts were obtained through the “gun show loophole.” They were legally obtained. The young man who committed the Newtown, CT massacre was under 21. It was illegal for him to have in his possession those pistols. The first question I asked as facts began to emerge was: Why does a mother with a known mentally ill son purchase guns, allow him to use them, and most importantly not lock them up to prevent his using them? That doesn’t sound like a problem with gun laws. That is a failure of parental responsibility.

The Virginia Tech shooter had been treated for a mental disorder yet his healthcare professional was prevented from reporting him because of healthcare information privacy laws. Again, that’s not a problem with gun laws but a breakdown of our mental health system. The lunatic who killed the firemen in New York had bludgeoned his grandmother to death with a hammer but was released from jail after 15 years. I still don’t see where the gun laws broke down except that someone bought the guns for him, and they will probably go to jail for what we in the industry call a straw purchase.

My point is this. Let us have an honest analysis of the factors causing gun violence in this country. Let the facts lead us to the root causes of the problem whether it is gun laws, movie violence, video games, or parental responsibility then let’s fix it. But that is not where I see us going. I believe President Obama gave VP Biden strict marching orders on what he wants done to restrict gun ownership. The task force and meetings with gun rights groups is a charade. The die is cast, his mind is made up.

We spend a lot of time in the store discussing what is going to be the end result. The conclusion is it isn’t a matter of if something happens, just how bad it is going to be. They will do something to restrict gun ownership and law abiding citizens will lose one more freedom. Simply because our leaders will not attack the root causes of the problem. Instead they will take an emotional response to a factual problem. And violence will continue.

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