Guns are not a prerequisite for acts of violence

By: 

Kevin Marquette Special to the Leader

This is in response to your editorial in the weekend edition of The Shawano Leader addressing the school shooting in Florida.

While in complete agreement that it was another senseless, horrible act of violence, I disagree in your seeming belief that enacting more gun control measures will eliminate these horrendous acts. I would think, as reporters, you would have looked into the shootings you referenced to see what could have been done to help prevent the tragedies. I’m disappointed in your lack of even basic investigative skills. In the latest shooting, as well as three others you mention specifically, various government entities failed to do their part to help keep this from happening. Had proper procedure and/or follow-through been completed, these tragedies could have been averted.

• Parkland, Florida, shooting: Two tips were turned in on suspect prior to the shooting. A YouTube video was reported to the FBI, and an Instagram posting was reported to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department. Why was no action taken? They can find bin Laden in a house in Pakistan, but they can’t find a kid posting videos on social media in Florida?

• Texas Baptist church shooting: Air Force failed to report his discharge status to FBI, so it was never entered into the NICS system. Ask the Defense Department why this wasn’t done.

• Orlando nightclub shooting: FBI investigated him in 2013 and 2014 after expressing sympathy for a suicide bomber and couldn’t find anything conclusive. Had he at least been put on a watch list, his purchasing the firearms would have set off a red flag with the NICS.

• Las Vegas shooting: While this wouldn’t have eliminated this tragedy, the ATF previously had reviewed the bump stocks used in the shootings to increase rate of fire and deemed them an add-on or accessory. Anything that increases the cyclical rate of fire should have been deemed illegal. Modifying the trigger assembly to auto fire is illegal. How could this have passed review?

As long as I can remember, I have been a history buff and enjoyed reading ancient world and early American history. Often, I have looked back in history to see what has and hasn’t worked in individuals’ lives as well as society as a whole to help guide me in various life decisions. Going back thousands of years, people using swords, other primitive equipment and torture devices, etc., have committed despicable, senseless atrocities against thousands of people. They used what was available to them. Modern times are no different. Vehicles, knives, and improvised explosive devices are all used as weapons to commit mass atrocities and spread terror.

Some examples include (CNN was source for majority of this material):

• Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: 2,996 innocent people died. Box cutters and four commercial airliners were weapon of choice.

• Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013: Three killed and 264 injured — 16 suffered loss of limbs — when two people used IEDs to create and detonate two bombs, common pressure cookers loaded with BBs and nails.

• Nice, France, July 4, 2016: 86 people killed when a man drives a 20-ton truck into a crowd watching a fireworks display.

• Ohio State University, Nov. 28, 2016: 11 people injured when a student carries out a car and knife attack.

• Berlin, Germany, Dec. 29, 2016: 12 people killed when a man drives a tractor trailer into a Christmas market.

• London, England, June 3, 2017: Eight killed and 48 injured when a van swerves into pedestrians on London Bridge, and driver proceeds on foot to a market area, slashing people in restaurants and bars.

• Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17, 2017: 13 killed and 100 injured when a van plows through a crowd of people in a popular tourist district.

• New York City, Oct. 31, 2017: Eight killed and almost a dozen injured when a 29-year-old man drives a pickup truck down a bicycle path.

Unfortunately, there are more instances, but I think this is enough to get the point across. Throughout history, people wishing to commit these types of violent acts will use whatever “weapons” they can come up with to execute their deplorable acts. It makes me just as nauseous to think what someone could do in a schoolyard full of kids with a pickup truck as to what they could do with a gun.

I will be the first to agree there is no easy answer to this problem. I don’t think one single answer will even begin to resolve this dilemma. I would equate it best in that there are multiple things we could do to improve the situation, similarly as to the many slices that make up a pie or pizza. However, as history has proven, we will never be able to eliminate the threat.

Trying to outlaw specific, individual weapons used, no matter what they are, will solve nothing. We’re merely chasing our tails with that approach, and we need to look no further than attacks in countries that have already tried it to see it doesn’t work.

One of the things almost all of these violent acts have in common is that they all had mid to high concentrations of innocent people with limited means at best to protect themselves. In many cases, weapons such as personal firearms are prohibited. They are considered soft targets by experts in this field, again in that people in these areas have limited means at best to protect themselves in the event of an attack. One of the first things we should do is to change the conditions of these soft targets so they’re not so soft! Remember, only honest people obey the law, no matter what that may be.

I’d like to comment on one more thing. I found Trump’s remarks about the FBI failing to do its job because it was too busy investigating him to be extremely callous. Would someone please take his smartphone away, close his Twitter account and ask him to show some respect for the victims and their grieving families?

Kevin Marquette was born and raised in Shawano. He is a DNR hunter safety instructor, a 4-H Shooting Sports coach and the Shawano County chairman for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.