Blowing The Doors Off Of Rolling Stones Call For Gun Control

Rolling Stone, Response to their call for Gun Control Author: John Risenhoover The Rolling Stone magazine recently released an editorial attacking...

Blowing The Doors Off Of Rolling Stones Call For Gun Control

Blowing The Doors Off Of Rolling Stones Call For Gun Control

Written by Guest Article / Contributor , in Section Truth About Gun Control

Rolling Stone, Response to their call for Gun Control

Author: John Risenhoover Author: John Risenhoover

The Rolling Stone magazine recently released an editorial attacking some of the most common counters to the call for gun control. I think it is only fair to go through their article and give a fair response. I’ve highlighted the Rolling Stones article in blue.


1. "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."
This is a fantastic argument for those who can't tell the difference between one death and a dozen. Absolutely, a murderer can often kill one person or two with a knife before being stopped. But to really rack up those mind-blowing death counts – to make sure that many lives are destroyed and families ruined in the space of five or 10 minutes – you need a gun. If all you care about is apportioning blame and declaring that someone does or does not have murderous intent, then by all means, claim a knife and a gun are equivalent weapons. For those of us who are more worried about preventing unnecessary deaths than merely acknowledging the hate that resides in some people's hearts, however, the sheer amount of damage a gun can do is reason to limit who can get their hands on one.

To start this discussion, let me be clear here, I am a retired ATF agent and I’ve been shot by a rifle during the execution of a federal search warrant. In fact, I was shot numerous times. One of the rifles used to shoot me was a Barrett .50 caliber semi-auto rifle. After that rifle blew through an engine block and shattered my leg, I was shot several more time by an assortment of weapons while I lay there bleeding. I was once forced to shoot a suspect during a search warrant of a meth lab because he pointed a rifle at my head. At no time did I think that the gun did this to me. It was the bad guys. On the other hand, I would never question the motivations of someone who has lost a loved one in a shooting.

It’s a tragedy and I know they just don’t want anyone else to experience the same pain they have experienced. I also know the reality of facing bad guy with a deadly weapon. The only way I would want to face someone with a deadly weapon is with a gun. Because I was an ATF Agent, I know that guns are legal products and available throughout our nation.

As we debate the gun control issue, we hear the same arguments from arming everyone to banning guns. The difference here is I want you to think about what you really should focus on. Do you focus on the gun or do you focus on the criminal act? I know that seems a little confusing, but please let me explain. When the group “Mothers Against Drunk Drivers” (M.A.D.D.) decided they wanted to stop their children from being killed by drunk drivers, they took their time to develop a strategy. They knew that prohibition wouldn’t work, since it had already failed before. They had to changes the dynamic and solely on focus on their goal to reduce the number of people being killed by drunk drivers. They came up with a strategy that everyone could agree upon. Simply put, they focused on the criminal act of drinking and driving. Not the product of alcohol or the vehicle, but the criminal act.

They developed a strategy to find some common ground and changed the law so the criminal act of driving drunk was treated as a crime, not an accident. Here is why this is so important - the harsh reality is criminal shootings in most cities are ignored until someone bleeds or dies. The vast majority of shootings in this nation are never investigated until someone is killed. By focusing on the criminal act of shooting at someone, regardless of accuracy, we could quickly reduce gun violence in this nation. Most citizens have no clue what is really going on around the nation. If your final goal is reduce the number of people being killed, this is your first step.


2. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."If you prefer pithy sayings to hard evidence, I can see why this would be convincing. But if you look at the real world, you'll find that far from being our only hope, good guys with guns are barely any help at all. No mass shootings in the past 30 years have been stopped by an armed civilian; in 1982, an armed civilian successfully killed a shooter, but it was only after he committed his crime. It's not that there aren't enough guns, either. There are as many guns as people in this country, and fully a third of people are armed. Even when shootings happen in gun-happy places, where armed people are sure to be nearby, this vigilante scenario simply doesn't work. That's because pulling a gun out and shooting back in the chaos of a mass shooting just makes things worse, as was discovered when a would-be hero at the 2011 shooting of Gabby Giffords very nearly shot the wrong man. (The actual shooter was tackled by an elderly man.)

I love the use of logic. I agree that many of these shootings are in locations that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible to stop once they start. From a dark movie theater packed with people to a very crowded dance floor, these are nightmare scenarios to engage a target without injury an innocent. I worked as an investigator on the Aurora Theater shooting and like most law enforcement officers wish I could have been there to stop the carnage. Allowing armed citizens into nightclubs such as the Pulse is something even the NRA is opposed to - "I don’t think we should have firearms where people are drinking," Wayne LaPierre, the association's vice president, told CBS on "Face the Nation" Sunday”. This is where so many people get lost in the media hype.

The vast majority of “mass shootings” never make the national news and you never hear about them unless you live in the town where they occurred. They happen in the inner cities and usually involve young stupid men committing stupid violent criminal acts. But what also gets forgotten is everyday citizens in this nation are attacked by criminals and some are fortunate enough to be able to defend themselves because they are allowed to arm themselves with a perfectly legal firearm. A better stat to think about is the percentage of guns that will never be used in an actual crime of violence. When we look at the Richmond California Office of Neighborhood Safety back in 2008, many were shocked by the fact the city paid a small number of criminals to stop committing violent shooting crimes.

What they should really be shocked about is the extremely small number of criminals committing the vast majority of shooting crimes in a city and by simply identifying them and addressing their behavior, they were able to quickly reduce gun violence. The answer in Richmond wasn’t to punish everyone with a gun, but to identify the people committing the shootings and address their behavior before they committed a murder. This ain’t Rocket Science!


3. "But, mental health!" Opponents of gun control love bringing up the problem of inadequate mental health care after a shooting. This is strictly for deflection purposes, as there is no indication that Republicans will ever work on meaningful reform for our mental health systems – which, it's true, are woefully inadequate. It's an issue that only matters to them in the immediate aftermath of a shooting – then it's forgotten, until there's another shooting. Rinse, repeat.

Also, the "mental health" gambit, in this context, is always vague. What exactly is the plan? Round up everyone with a mental health issue and put them under lock and key? That amounts to 1 in 5 Americans, the vast majority of whom have no violent tendencies. Will we have some kind of extensive mental health registry?

A lot of Americans who struggle with mental health are undiagnosed, though, and putting them on a government list that restricts their rights is not a great inducement to get a diagnosis. There are a lot of shooters in this country, so we have some pretty good data on mass shooters. And that data shows there's no reliable way to tell who is going to go off like this, and only 23 percent of shooters have a diagnosis. Even if all of those individuals got gold-star treatment, the system would only stop a few shooters.

No argument here. I just wish we could get the people who have been adjudicated mentally defective onto a list that would prohibit them from purchasing a firearm from a licensed gun dealer. That would be a nice start. I would love to see the statistics showing the percentage of legal gun owners that will commit a violent criminal act with their firearm. This is a statistic that will never be mentioned because it would show that legal gun owners aren’t a threat. You talk about the percentage of people what only 23 percent of shooters have a diagnosis for a mental health issue.

I would guess you are talking about mass shootings that made the major news, not the mass shootings in the inner cities. What percentage of citizens own a firearm and never commit a shooting crime OR a mass shooting? Again, the vast majority of shootings are being committed in the inner cities and ignored. They have nothing to do with armed citizens, people with mental health issues or terrorists. Young stupid men are committing violent criminal shooting over women, respect and old feuds. Since they don’t fit the narrative, they go unreported and ignored until we use these stats to fuel the call for gun control.


4. "Second Amendment, baby." Here's a good time to remind everyone that the Second Amendment was written by slaveholders before we had electricity, much less the kind of weaponry that would-be murderers can buy today. But sure, if you think it's that precious, we can compromise: If you love the Second Amendment that much, feel free to live in a powdered wig and shit in a chamberpot while trying to survive off what you can kill with an 18th century musket. In exchange, let those of us living in this century pass some laws so we can feel safe going to class, or the movies, or anywhere without worrying that some maladjusted man will try to get his revenge by raining death on random strangers.

These are the same men that also wrote the constitution and all the other Amendments that we cherish. Until the Second Amendment is changed, it still stands as the law of the land. It was written for a reason. If you goal is to reduce gun violence, there are so many things that could be done immediately without attacking the 2nd Amendment. We could start by addressing every shooting in Chicago and treat them as an attempted murder and not just a reckless discharge of a firearm. By investigating these shootings thoroughly, we could identify serial shooters and stop the cycle of violence in a short period of time.

This is how NYPD reduced shootings and homicides in the 80s. We could upgrade the NICS reporting system to make sure that no prohibited person could purchase a firearm from an FFL because of a poor reporting by law enforcement agencies and a flawed process. We could focus the FBI on targeting terrorists and preventing the next mass shooting or terrorist attack, instead of doing everything under the sun. We could focus ATF on implementing a strategy which targets the criminal serial shooter to prevent the next shooting instead of spending the vast majority of ATF’s resources buying narcotics.

There are so many things we can do immediately to address gun violence that have nothing to do with a fight over the Second Amendment, but instead we fight. We should look at Mothers Against Drunk Drivers as a model. You must first decide what you are trying to accomplish. Is your goal to ban guns or is your goal to make the country safer? Believe it or not, they aren’t the same.

I was a little disappointed you left out the old argument, “Before you come for my guns, the government needs to enforce the laws on the books. Look at all the people being denied by NICS and no one gets prosecuted.” Let’s be honest here. No one gets prosecuted for NICS violations because, one, there is usually no jail time involved and, two, to prosecute all the NICS and Felon in Possession violations around the nation, you would need to triple the size of ATF, the US Attorney’s Office and the Federal Court System, to include judges. Even then it would have no affect on criminal shootings. Again, the harsh reality is the vast majority of criminal shootings in this nation go ignored, reclassified and uninvestigated.

What message do you think we send to a young man when he shoots at someone and there is no response by law enforcement? I can tell you and it’s basic playground rules. If you ignore the bully’s bad behavior, he will only continue his behavior and escalate. Others will see this behavior and view it as permissible and copy the behavior. The best way to stop a bully is to have a zero tolerance policy.

So, what does that mean? Today, in Chicago and other major cities, if there is a shooting and police respond and no one is hit, it is doubtful that a police report will even be taken. If a report is taken, it will most likely be classified as a non-violent crime. If someone is hit and a suspect can’t be quickly identified, the case will be closed within 24 to 48 hours. Only if someone is killed will a truly thorough investigation be conducted. This entire process is done on the theory that every shooting is done by one person who will commit this one act of violence, not that a core group of individuals are doing the vast majority of shootings. In fact, if you look at most cities with a serious problem with criminal shootings / gun violence, you will find twice as many detectives and undercover officers working drugs than trying to solve shootings. The theory here is illegal drugs fuel all gun violence and by attacking the drugs, we will stop the shootings. Well…no. We’ve followed this strategy for the past 30 years and it hasn’t worked. In fact, I followed this strategy for most of my career. It wasn’t until I became the National Coordinator for the NIBIN program and started to see what really worked. In reality most of these shootings are occurring over women, respect and old feuds and the vast majority of “mass shootings” occur in the inner cities involving black victims. Most of these victims aren’t involved in gangs or drugs but just collateral damage that didn’t have the financial ability to move away. So while we focus on the highly publicized incidents, the reality is we are ignoring the majority of these incidents because they happen in the inner cities and involve blacks. Allowing citizens the opportunity to defend themselves shouldn’t be a privilege for the white and rich. This should be the real issue for Black Lives Matters. We owe every citizen the opportunity to live in a safe environment. By simply implementing a strategy that focuses on public safety, we can quickly affect a community, much like what happened in Richmond, California.

In closing, the goal shouldn’t be to buy dope or make major cases, but to address the criminal shooter BEFORE he commits a murder. I find this to be a moral issue, but for other is can be easily viewed as a financial issue. The cost of a murder investigation and prosecution can easily exceed $1,000,000.00 so to implement a strategy addressing criminal behavior to prevent a murder isn’t just morally correct, but also makes financial sense. The entire reason many cities reclassify shootings from crimes of violence is to keep crime stats down and the property taxes up. This simple change in the way we are addressing these criminal act cannot only reduce murder and improve our tax base, but avoid this tiresome fight over gun control.

Again, what is your goal?

Article Provided by:

John Risenhoover,  WWW.CCWSAFE.COM