In the whirlwind following the Sandy Hook massacre there were numerous calls for more gun control if not an outright gun ban. The response from the pro-gun crowd, was a call for a more substantive look at the broader scope of issues involved in mass shootings.
In the interest of doing something that will make a difference, let’s have a look at some of the proposals and qualify them based on whether they “might have” prevented Sandy Hook, or whether they “would have.”
Increased Gun Control
Let’s lump all of the gun control proposals into this one category: universal background checks, magazine capacity limits, bans on certain types of weapons, et al. And let’s also recall that Adam Lanza murdered his mother in order to obtain weapons, was illegally in possession of those weapons, broke the law bringing them into a gun free zone, committed multiple murders inside the school, had 20 minutes in which to commit those murders, was met with no armed resistance at all, and ultimately ended his own life.
I’d say it would be a stretch to claim that increased gun control “would have” prevented Sandy Hook, considering that Mr. Lanza obviously didn’t care much about laws, and even if there were increased gun control, there is the black market, theft, and even the consideration that Mr. Lanza likely could have committed this atrocity using a bolt action, single shot “hunting” rifle.
Still, there is the possibility that increased gun control “might have” prevented Sandy Hook. Adam Lanza’s mother might not have had any weapons available, they might have been locked up in a safe, etc.
So: Increased Gun Control? Might Have.
A Total Gun Ban
This means no one but “special people” would have guns. Keep in mind that Adam Lanza wasn’t too fond of laws. A total gun ban would probably have made things more difficult for him, but there remains the illegal means of acquiring a gun. You know, the whole, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns,” and Adam Lanza was certainly an outlaw.
A Total Gun Ban? Might Have.
A Better Mental Health System
Adam Lanza was obviously mentally unstable. Improved mental health screens, a public more willing to identify potentially unstable people, more widely available and approachable mental health institutions, etc, might have meant Mr. Lanza would have had access to help or perhaps even be off the street altogether.
But could he have slipped through the cracks? Been able to fudge his way through a mental health exam or otherwise avoid the system? Of course, however, it is possible that he could have also been identified and institutionalized.
A Better Mental Health System? Might Have.
An Adam Lanza Incapacitated by Armed Resistance
When Adam Lanza entered the school and presented a weapon, if he had been met by a barrage of bullets that incapacitated him such that he could no longer proceed down the hallway nor pull a trigger, would that have prevented Sandy Hook?
Absolutely. Would. Have.
So why aren’t we looking at ways to put a barrage of bullets in between a killer and their victims? Why are we even considering further limitations on magazine capacity and more pervasive gun control when it is easily demonstrable, as above, that those efforts “might have” made a difference, but more bullets in Adam Lanza’s face “would have” made a difference? Could it be that those proposing “might have” solutions aren’t really interested in preventing mass shootings? Could it be they have other priorities?
I would suggest that we could test that theory using a test very similar to “might have/would have.”