Lessons of NIU Tragedy

, Michael P. Tremoglie, Leave a comment

Northern Illinois University
was the scene of the latest campus massacre by a mentally deranged person. Unfortunately, what is even more tragic than the incident at NIU is that it was the “latest” incident. This is one more incident too many. How to prevent this from happening again is what everyone is asking.

Of course, the politicians and advocacy groups immediately exploit the issue. Ban the ownership, sale, manufacture and possession of guns. This will solve the problem, they claim.

As one who is a firm believer in the right to bear arms, I must admit the idea is an attractive one in the context of the current environment. I even said so while appearing as a guest on the Joe Chevalier radio show on KLAV radio in Las Vegas February 15.

But I did not endorse the idea. What convinced me not to do so was a conversation I had just before the show with a relative of mine who is a judge in Italy.

My cousin is not a liberal by either Italian or American standards. Yet she favors strict gun control laws because she reads what happens here in America, conveyed by a very liberal European news media, and is appalled by the “massacres,” as she calls them. Italy does not have such problems because they have stricter gun control laws, or so she believes.

I then furnished her with a précis of Illinois’ gun laws and asked her to compare them to Italian law. She found that the Illinois laws were much more lenient than Italian law. But when I read the enumerated differences I found the Italian laws to be not so drastically different. Certainly the Italian laws are stricter than Illinois, yet they are not as strict as say, Washington, D.C.

This then led me to question why Italy does not have the problems we do despite the fact that their gun control laws are not that much more prohibitive than some jurisdictions in the U.S.

Indeed, if we abolished the sale, ownership and manufacture of guns everywhere in the United States, would there be fewer massacres on college campuses, as gun control advocates claim? Would such events be eliminated entirely?

Is it really the availability of guns that causes this problem? There were periods in United States history where guns were more easily available than they are now. Yet we did not have the mass murders then that we have now.

Are their cultural differences between Italy and the United States that have absolutely nothing to do with gun laws and can account for the lack of these massacres in Italy?

If we could insert the gun laws of, say, Alaska (among the most lenient in the nation) into Italy, would there be mass shootings? Gun-friendly Alaska has never had a massacre, while Illinois, with much stricter laws, has.

Are what occurred at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois and elsewhere the past several years symptomatic of something else? If so, should we not find the solution to that problem?

These are important questions. Because banning ownership of firearms is not a palliative for this crisis. It would only cause more victims. Fewer people would be able to defend themselves.

Gun control advocates have a fanatical obsession to abolish guns. For the most part they are well intentioned. Many police officers, physicians and other professionals are in their ranks. They really do believe that there will be fewer murders if the Second Amendment were repealed. Prima facie evidence exists to substantiate their beliefs.

Unfortunately, they do not consider both sides of the equation, nor do they concern themselves with alternative explanations as to the causes of school shootings and rampant gun crime.

For example, they have yet to explain why it is that places where guns are more easily available have fewer shootings. They do not explain how removing the ability to defend oneself will decrease crime victims. They do not explain how, here in Philadelphia for example, there can be two neighborhoods, side by side, with similar demographics, yet one has no problem with gun crimes and the other does.

Until they examine these issues, they cannot offer credible solutions.

Michael P. Tremoglie is author of the critically acclaimed novel A Sense of Duty, available at Barnesandnoble.com. This article originally appeared in The Philadelphia Bulletin.