Recently we were presented with the sad reality of, yet, another mass shooting in an american school. People completely agree that this is a problem and a very horrible thing. The problem is that american people (also generalizes for the rest of the world) don't seem to agree on the solution. On one hand you have those who believe that with tougher gun control the problem would be mitigated, on the other you got those who don't feel this is necessary a solution, while it harms his rights of having a gun as a mean to ultimately defend themselves.
Why this seems like an endless religious argument based discussion? Well because it is. Pretty much like religion, where evidence is not really relevant, this discussion is also heavy based on emotion and not on rationality. While is tempting to say that with tougher gun control the problem would disappear, the reality is this is nothing more of a believe and wishful thinking than evidence. On other hand believing that the right to possess a gun and by doing so being able to defend themselves in toe to toe with a violent criminal is also enough reason for this not to happen is, as we saw, broken.
The sad reality is that this problem is a complex one. The good news is that we have plenty of information from all around the world that would give a pretty good basis of discussion. But since honest and meaningful discussions are by definition hard, nobody seems to care to enroll this enterprise. I would love to believe that by prohibiting guns the problem would disappear. Do you know who's think the same way? Mexico, regarding drugs. Have you seen what happens since 2006?. Yeah, president Felipe Calderón also believed that by prohibiting drugs, in the most assertive way, would be enough to solve the problem. For sure you already know Brasil and their lovely culture. Well Brasil is another country with heavy gun control. Recently in city of Rio de Janeiro the army was appointed as a supreme entity to supervise and manage all the police operations. How is this relevant? As you can see Brasil also has gun control laws.
These are just some examples that serve as pretty clear evidence that making laws is different from building solutions when problems are of complex nature. The problem of drugs, gun control (which usually come hand by hand) and other very problematic illicit activities is their complex nature of incentives matrix. Human being is driven by a matrix of incentives. Individual morality is one value, as is the perception of risk, the perception of individual economic gain, the perception of power, and so on. If the end result of this result matrix seems, to the individual, a positive value in the incentive direction of kill, sell drugs, or do any other illicit activity, the individual will do this illicit activity.
As in mathematics, nobody likes matrix. This incentive matrix is no different. Is much more appealing to discuss the superficial moral basis and come with a very emotional speech than address seriously the problem. And this is the reason why people keep this shallow discussions. Because they are convenient, easy and give us all the felling of righteousness and security we all love.
Unfortunately this is just a belief. And sadly, in this specific case, the world is not driven by believes...