Everyone Gets A Gun: At Least One Good Idea

A new video, titled Everyone Gets A Gun, was recently posted by NRA commentator Billy Johnson. In this video, he discusses a thought experiment where gun ownership and gun possession become a mandatory thing. Social media is all a twitter (pun intended), with people lining up on both sides of the notion. One idea that seems to get a lot of anti-gun advocates quite upset is that of mandating gun and shooting classes in school. His proposal is that you do not get promoted to the next grade unless you pass your shooting class.

Some folks, like Slate's Amada Marcotte are indignant with the idea, believing that shooting crimes are kept in check through gun ignorance, but they fail to realize that the idea has merit from the domain of learning theory. I posted a long blog update a few weeks ago where I applied simple learning theory to the problem of gun violence.

In that posting, I spoke about one technique that is used to eliminate bad behavior in dogs. Imagine that the problem dog is a chronic barker. The technique (which works well) is to put the offending behavior on stimulus control. What this means is you teach the dog to bark on command. Furthermore, the dog is only rewarded when he barks on command. Then, to keep the dog from barking, you never (or only rarely) give the command to bark.

This same idea is occasionally used with children who have aggression issues. These kids are put into football, boxing or martial arts programs. Within these programs, the kids are given an opportunity to be aggressive in a controlled manner. Outside of these programs, these kids are not given the same opportunity to be aggressive. Like the barking dog, the behavior is put on stimulus control, and then the command is only given in class. These types of approaches have worked well.

So, why not teach a kid to shoot in class? Teach them the appropriate and acceptable outlet for shooting a gun. To use learning theory parlance, put the behavior of shooting a gun on stimulus control, then never give the command to shoot outside of class and the shooting range. It works for barking dogs.  It works with Tae Kwon Do. Why not with guns?

(For my regular readers, sorry for the repeat.  More dog stuff very soon.)

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