Past failures don't justify future gun control

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

It shouldn’t work like this, but anecdotes tend to move us more than facts.

From the earliest days of humanity, we’ve used stories to share information, pass on history, and learn about the world, so it stands to reason that stories also move us to support various laws and regulations, such as gun control.


Just like Uncle Tom’s Cabin swayed many people to become abolitionists, stories can sell us on an awful lot.

But the problem is that there shouldn’t be holes in those stories. While reality doesn’t have to make sense like a good piece of fiction must, some plot holes are just too big to miss.

Take this one trying to push red flag laws in Iowa.

Temple Hiatt’s nephew showed signs of mental illness the day of his death. A Red flag gun safety law could have saved his life.

Hiatt, a volunteer with Iowa Moms Demand Action, said legislation should be put in place to minimize harm from firearms. But until that happens, it’s up to the community to know how to stay safe. Phillip Travis, Hiatt’s nephew, died by suicide from a gun in 2014. This loss has influenced her advocacy by showing her firsthand how gun safety can save lives.

Now, understand that I’m sorry for Hiatt’s loss. Suicide is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

However, she says her nephew showed signs beforehand. If that’s the case, why didn’t she and her family get a 5150 hold for him? That would have put him in a psychiatric facility for up to 72 hours and, unlike with a red flag law, would have gotten him some much-needed treatment.


Further, such a hold removes the individual not just from the possibility of shooting themselves, but killing themselves through pretty much any other means.

Hiatt, like so many others, is trying to use their own failures to justify gun control.

“But 5150 holds deprive people of their freedom,” some might argue, and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, let’s also remember that when you’re trying to take away someone’s civil liberties because you say you’re concerned about them, that argument isn’t going to hold a lot of water.

Opposing both this and red flag laws makes sense. Supporting both, while I can’t say it makes sense, it’s at least consistent.

So I find Hiatt’s tale less than moving because of the holes. She and her family failed to get the nephew the help he needed, so we should all put our freedom at risk so they can feel less guilty about their own mistakes.

Sorry, not interested.

I get feeling the need to do something after losing him. That’s normal. You don’t want anyone else to go through that. Yet gun control isn’t the answer.


She could instead be advocating for more involvement with those suffering from mental illness. She could be advocating for more resources for those suffering.

Instead, she wants gun control, which likely wouldn’t have done what she’s claiming it would have for her nephew.

Sorry, but I’m going to call ’em like I see ’em. Especially since all those alternatives I suggested would do far more to reduce suicides–all causes of suicide, even, not just with guns–than gun control ever could.

Iowa is one of the safer states in the nation. It doesn’t need more gun control and it damn sure doesn’t need a red flag law.

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