Friday, February 26, 2016

Shooting in Kansas, Possibly Sparked by Protection Order

Regardless of whether you're for or against gun control, whether you believe the Second Amendment is unimpeachable or outdated, please join me in a moment of silence for the victims and wishing the fervent wish that this headline wasn't all-too-familiar.

On the night of February 25, 2016, the day before this posting, another shooting happened in Hesston, Kansas, a tiny town in central Kansas of 37,000 people. According to CNN, the shooter, Cedric Ford, killed three people and injured 14 more, some of them critically. So far, it appears that after Cedric Ford was served a restraining order to stay away from his ex-girlfriend, he proceeded to go on a shooting rampage, killing three people, stealing the last one's car, and then going to a lawn equipment manufacturer's building, where he proceeded to shoot 14 more people.

You guys have all heard the debate on gun control/gun rights before. We've heard about the Second Amendment, the effectiveness of gun control, "common sense" gun laws.

So here's my question: who do you think is responsible for stopping these tragedies before they happen? A common answer is the government (hence gun control). But is it possible that businesses should also take part in finding a way to regulate guns, running private background checks on their buyers? Or is gun control, as a concept, more of a public good, and thus impractical to expect a private enterprise to carry out?  Is it in a gun manufacturer's interest to make sure their guns do not go to people who have a higher likelihood of committing a crime? Move beyond only-profit considerations (although those could be accounted for morally), and also into moral considerations/behavioral economics.



Jessica Yeh said...

It is tragic that these lives were lost in another act of violence. I do think that when it comes to gun control, businesses should have a part in regulating guns, but the government would need to hold businesses accountable for businesses to have any incentive to regulate, since making it harder for people to buy guns would decrease sales. Your questions about it being in a gun manufacturer's interest to make sure people don't commit crimes with guns is an interesting perspective I had not really considered. From my perspective, if manufacturers only cared about profit and disregarded morals, then making sure their guns go to only law-abiding citizens would not benefit them overall. In fact, when people commit gun-related crimes, some studies show that more people buy guns in the hope of defending themselves.

Crystal Lee said...

Jessica, thank you for your comment!

I totally agree with your point on the government holding businesses accountable, whether its through penalties enacted by legislation/agency rules or simply by engaging in a simpler buyer-seller relationship, with the government paying the businesses to do this. The solutions there are already pretty interesting, and I wonder which would work better...

Also, thank you for your study–I hadn't considered that statistic. The moral obligation I was considering was gun sellers being considered more immoral if they don't help with anti-gun violence initiatives, but I suppose that would only come to light if other gun sellers were also participating in that kind of moral corporation activism (what a strange phrase to type).

So it looks like we really do need the government to at least hold private-based regulation accountable...hmm, any other viewpoints?

Tara Young said...

I think that the government is responsible for stopping the tragedies before they happen. I agree with Jessica that the government should incentivize the manufacturers/businesses to regulate guns and prevent the mentally ill or unstable and criminals from purchasing them. This may or may not increase the public's safety as guns are still available through other channels. It is impractical for governments to expect private businesses to carry out the gun control because they are not necessarily responsible. They produce a product and it is up to the consumer on how they use it. The businesses should benefit if they are expected to provide additional services, since it is not in the manufacturer's interest to make sure their guns do not go to possible criminals. It would decrease their revenue even though it may endanger their safety. Some people simply might not care what happens to others as long as they profit.

Crystal Lee said...

Tara, thank you for your comment!

I'd like to (as inoffensively as possible) point out a tiny hole in your argument: you say that "some people" only care about profit and not other people, which is undoubtedly true, but you also make an assumption that this applies to gun manufacturers. Why do you think gun manufacturers (or, indeed, businesses in general) will put profit over moral obligations?

Also, I have a hypothetical scenario for you or anyone else to address: let's say the "public" starts to blame the gun manufacturers, however improbable it is; they accuse the gun manufacturers of being cold hearted and inhumane. Even if this narrative is confined mostly to a more liberal part of the public/media, and thus gun sales do not change, could this pressure gun manufacturers into doing something?

There's also some interesting analysis that could be done here about our culture's narrative about businesses and the people in charge of them–it's become accepted that these people will put profit over morals, that they are necessarily cold-hearted and perhaps more inclined to lie and cheat than your Average Joe. Are CEOs like Zuckerberg, in the more liberal Silicon Valley/tech industry, changing this narrative, or are they just the apparent exception?