This nation is well rid of the brutal young thug that slaughtered twenty young children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. His cowardly military assault shattered not just a community and the lives of the friends, parents, first responders and others, but the lives of millions in America and many more around the globe. I have not felt this desperate and saddened since that terrible day on 9/11/2001. Somehow, this was worse, just the sheer innocence of these delicate lives, scarcely begun, and torn away.
The question asked by many today is, why did it happen, what made this violent young man, scarcely out of his teenage years perpetrate an act of such viciousness. What baffles me are the answers given by so many, especially experts produced by various media shows on radio and TV. They all start talking about psychological problems, and how this young killer was autistic, psychologically disturbed, a loner, someone who could not connect to other people.
That may give a background to his actions, and perhaps offer a framework for understanding his motivation. We will have to wait for the results of the investigation to determine that, and how much it contributed to his actions. We may never know.
To me, his mental health issues are an entirely separate conversation that we need to have in this country, and that is giving people ready access not just to mental health issues, but any health issue. That has more to do with universal health care than gun violence.
The experts on these TV shows talk about testing school children, or people in general, and yet they do not seem to think about the logistics of testing large groups of people. There are over three hundred million people in this country, tens of millions of school children. How on Earth are you going to test all those people?
What are you going to look for? How do you know just by testing someone today whether they are going to perpetrate an act of violence tomorrow? How often are you going to test them, since depression and other psychological problems may not manifest themselves for many years. The idea that improved access to mental health facilities is going to change the gun violence show just how far removed from reality the discussion has become. This is not entirely about the evil that men do, though that is some of the problem. The answer is far more prosaic.
The NRA claims that the answer to every shooting death, every killing spree, every drive-by shooting, is more guns, more guns. Almost half of all Americans seem to agree, around 46%, that we should have even more guns in our society. Now, right there is a psychological problem that needs fixing. Who, in his right mind, after a tragedy like the one in Newtown would advocate access to more guns?
The problem is that this assassin had access to guns. He did not have to buy them himself, indeed, he attempted to do so and was rebuffed by the law forbidding sale to people under twenty-one. Now this is where the NRA steps in, they say that if you make laws controlling guns, people will get them somewhere. Granted.
The problem is that he got them from his mother who collected these weapons. We presume that his mother would have passed any psychological testing. If his mother had not had access to a military assault rifle, and three other weapons, this killer would have found it very difficult to get hold of them.
The NRA insists on everyone, anywhere, at any time being allowed to bear arms, and often concealed weapons in restaurants, bars, vehicles, retail stores, malls, national parks. They insist on no background checks, being able to buy weapons from anyone anywhere, without a license. It is almost as though they are assuming that people who purchase weapons are not bad people.
The odds are that people buying multiple weapons, especially military style ordinance are not decent people. These are the lunatics, the deranged, the conspiracists, the people who believe that the government is out to get them and take their guns away. If there is any psychological testing to be done, it is among these people, for who in his right mind needs to own a military assault rifle capable of firing six bullets a second? We are not at war. These are the people represented by the NRA.
It is by this token that I believe that the NRA must take responsibility for the continual parade of dead around this nation, the thirty thousand people who die each year, or one person every twenty minutes killed by firearms.
Lets examine their contention that more guns will solve the problem, since that is always their answer to everything. The NRA have issued statements saying that there should be armed guards in every school. Instead of resolving the issue of access to guns, we are going to exacerbate the problem by adding another gun on school property.
If someone wants to attack a school, they will know that there are armed guards on the premises. What is the first thing an attacker will do upon arriving at the school? Find the armed guard and neutralise him. Now you have placed the life of the guard in jeopardy, and not solved the problem.
What is the NRA’s next brilliant solution? Arm the teachers. Think about the reality of this. You have a teacher with children of six or seven and she is walking around the classroom with a gun. What kind of message does that send to the children? Do we live in a war zone? Are there armed bandits lurking in the hills around the school? Are you going to get young, gentle women to carry guns around, guns that they cannot handle, have not been trained to handle and very often do not want to handle? In a real firefight are they going to be able to use them effectively?
Not everyone is careful with those weapons. What if this teacher puts her weapon down for an instant and a student picks it up? Another accident? If people with psychological problems, or anyone with intent know that there are guns in schools, where better to go and find one to steal, and perhaps use on students?
What happens if the attacker is a healthy young male that has used weapons before? What if he is armed with a military style weapons? Are you really going to arm the teachers with assault weapons? If not, of what value is a hand gun against an assault weapon?
Remember that the attacker has the element of surprise. If he knows that the teachers are armed, he will be more careful, and more likely to neutralise the teachers first. What if there is more than one attacker? Armed with, as in this case, hundreds of rounds and extended ammunition clips? Are the teachers going to stand a chance?
What if the attacker times his assault for when children are coming out of classes? With hundreds of children milling around, how is having a gun going to help the teacher? If all the teachers are armed and burst out of their classrooms with guns, what do they see but other teachers with guns. How do they know who the shooter is? It is not as though the shooter is dressed in uniform, and even if he is, in the confusion, how are teachers going to determine where the shots are coming from and who the attacker is? Are they going to start firing with hundreds of children milling around?
What the NRA does not seem to comprehend is that in the fog of war, for that is what this was, mistakes are made, people are misidentified, the wrong people can be shot. What if a teacher was one of the killers? Imagine if he could now walk into a classroom, where he belongs and use his weapons on defenseless children?
The same goes in any situation. If dozens of people are armed, and one starts shooting, how do the other gun owners decide who the criminal is? All they will see are people with guns, and assume that they are shooters.
Imagine another scenario, and lets us hope it never happens. What if the NRA persuades the Supreme Court that they should be able to carry weapons into a football match. If you had thousands of people all armed, and one crazed person decides to start shooting, there would be pandemonium, carnage on a scale never imagined before.
The ownership of guns and more guns is not the solution. It never was and ever will be. Other civilised nations around the world have solved their gun violence problems by taking them away, by restricting ownership to a small group of people, and low and behold, gun violence and death have dropped precipitously. The only result of gun ownership is death and destruction. The only way to stop that destruction is to ban weapons. Period.
The NRA and other pro-gun groups have a lot to answer for. The litany of deaths around this nation are on their heads. The depravity lies on their doorstep, and they must step up and take responsibility for what their advocacy has done to tens of thousands of people around this nation. They will not, for that have no responsibility, they lay it on everyone else. The real reason for NRA insistence on access to weapons is profit for companies like Smith And Wesson. Tens of thousands must die in order for Smith And Wesson to make a profit.
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