February 23, 2018

Gun Violence—The Goal Is to Contain the Problem, Not Solve It

For gun violence, the fundamental question we should be asking is this: How do we reduce the number of crimes? The fact that these heinous crimes are happening at schools is new but what is driving the perpetrators is not.

Firstly, it’s not possible to prevent all crimes. Crimes will always exist. It’s a question of figuring out what the tolerable level is for any given society. It appears that the Americans now feel the current level is too much.

Secondly, problem and solution are two separate issues. Freud figured out how people become neurotic but understanding the causes of the problem didn’t lead to any solutions. Freud himself acknowledged this. Psychoanalysis as a solution is no better than placebo.

However, in many situations where the cause is directly addressable, it’s possible to eliminate the problem entirely. Obviously, this is appealing to us but many problems in life are not of this nature. For instance, even though we understand why earthquakes happen, there is no way for us to address the cause directly. All that we can do is to employ numerous tricks to reduce the amount of damage, like designing buildings to withstand earthquakes and teaching people how to protect themselves.

It appears that everyone is looking for the answer to stop gun violence. If you think about it, that’s naive. We are not going to find any solution that directly eradicates all evil intentions. It’s just a matter of employing enough small, indirect solutions to reduce the level of violence/damage to a socially acceptable level. And, I think gun control is an obvious one. Anyone who denies it should get a brain scan to see if anything is lodged in the prefrontal cortex. But, to be realistic, by itself, gun control won’t solve the problem either.