Mistakes And Mass Shootings

policelineWhenever there is a mass shooting, there is always talk of gun control. This is a mistake. While mass shootings are certainly dramatic and terrible, they account for a very small amount of the 30,000 people who lose their lives to gunfire every year in America.

Truthfully, background checks, limited magazines, training, registration, and other common sense preventative gun control measures are unlikely to stop most mass shootings. This leads many gun rights enthusiasts to conclude that because gun control is unlikely to stop mass shootings we should not enact any gun control measures. This also is a mistake.

Of the 30,000 gun deaths every year, 20,000 of them are self-inflicted. In other words if you are killed by a gun, you’re twice as likely to be the person who also pulled the trigger. This is an area where gun control measures have an opportunity to help immensely. A suicidal person is less likely to kill themselves with a gun if they are required to go through an extensive background check and then a training course before they can even purchase a firearm. Studies show that lack of access to firearms results in lower suicide rates. 

Gun control will not stop all gun deaths or gun suicides much like owning a fire extinguisher isn’t going to stop all fires from burning down your home. Another common mistake about gun control is that many people think if it won’t stop ALL gun deaths then we shouldn’t do it at all. This is, of course, absurd.

Another mistake we often see after a mass shooting is the outcry that we should not be putting any focus whatsoever on guns and instead we should only focus on the pitiful state of our mental health care programs. We should most definitely put a focus and money and resources towards fixing the lack of mental health care in this country. But it’s a bit simplistic and outright stupid to think that we only have the ability to focus on one dangerous factor when it comes to mass shootings. We can acknowledge that our mental healthcare system needs work and then look at what other factors may have contributed to these tragedies.

This leads to another common mistake. While it’s correct to say that every single aspect of a person’s life leads them to take the actions they choose, it’s incorrect to assume that if those actions are horrific, then every single aspect that influenced those actions must be equally horrific. Correlation does not necessarily equal direct causation. Millions of people watch violent movies, play violent video games, read books on picking up girls, and listen to music with morally repugnant lyrics without committing any violent actions whatsoever. One cannot condemn something simply because a murderer may have encountered it. Of course, it’s a simple matter to use this same argument regarding guns. And again, this is why I say it’s a mistake to think gun control is going to stop mass shooters.

Whenever something horrible happens, we want to know why and we want to know how to stop it from happening again. Sometimes there are no simple answers. Sometimes there are obvious answers that turn out to be absolutely wrong. It’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to change it when presented with new evidence. Failure to do that is the biggest mistake of all.

Jack Cameron


GameStop’s Pre-Order Madness

Last December, one of my kids (yes, I have kids, scary but true) decided to spend his Christmas money by preordering a Pokemon game at GameStop. He wanted to do this so he wouldn’t spend the money before the game’s release date. He paid the $35 and got a receipt so that he could pick the game up when it came out in March. Yesterday the game was released. My wife went in to pick up the game for him and they asked for another $5.48. It turns out that since December, the price of the game had gone up by five bucks and despite the fact that my kid paid his money and got a piece of paper saying he bought the game and only had to wait until it was released to get it, they would not give her the game until she paid the additional money.

When I’m not writing about my car or books about how to do the wrong things the right way, I work at a company in Kent dealing with inventory and purchasing. In one way or another I’ve been dealing with inventory work for the last five years. So I know a little about it. I understand vendor relations, pricing, iventory management and everything related to those processes. And regardless of what you’re selling, these processes are very similar.

While a case could be made that the retailer is being charged more for the game and thus must pass that cost on to the customer, let’s talk a little about pre-orders. The only real advantage to a customer for pre-ordering something is that they are guaranteed to get it even in the event of a sellout. However, from a retailer’s standpoint, a pre-order has all sorts of advantages. As a retailer, a pre-order means you have a guaranteed sale. This item isn’t going to use up valuable shelf space. It also means getting the money before the item is sold which can often make or break a small business. It’s a lot easier to buy inventory if you already have the customer’s money. So if you’ve already paid for an item months before you actually get the item, you’re doing the company a big favor. They don’t have to stock the item in hopes that it will sell. They don’t have to put a price tag on it. They don’t have to spend time putting it out on the shelf. They don’t even have to pay for it with their own money. They have yours.

Now, given all of that, let’s take another look at this situation. A 15-year-old kid takes thirty-five dollars cash and gives it to GameStop in December. Sometime between December and March GameStop buys a the game from the software developer. It’s more than they expected to pay for it, but odds are it’s still under the thrity-five dollars they pocketed back in December. I know this because you can buy the same game from Amazon.com for $32.54. So GameStop’s increase in purchase cost did not exceed the purchase price. It only cut into their profits. And yes, those profits are needed both for business and for overhead, but as I mentioned before with a pre-oder there’s almost no overhead. The employee simply needs to open the box they came in, pull out a game, and hand it to the customer. Still, instead of just eating the five dollar profit loss, GameStop’s current policy is to stick the additional cost to the customer, even when that customer is a fifteen-year-old-boy. They do say that whenever this occurs, an automated service calls all the pre-order customers to notifty them of the price change, but my kid never received such a call.

This is a short sighted way of dealing with customers. Yes, it avoids a small profit loss on a new and popular game, but what GameStop isn’t paying attention to is the one thing that is most important in business: Customer Relations. Someone who pre-orders a game isn’t likely to be just a casual video game player. The sort of customer that pre-orders is an avid gamer and the sort who probably spends more money than average on games and gaming devices. A customer like this is likely to spend more than five dollars every time they walk in the door. Not to mention the fact that a customer like that probably uses the Internet more than average and is likely to tell others about their experience. When you look at it like that, maybe taking that five dollar hit wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Instead what has happened is that GameStop has five more dollars than they would have and has lost the business of my family. In the twenty-four hours since then, my wife has told everyone in her family, on her Facebook page and on her Twitter. And now I’ve posted this.