The folly of a gun ban

Besides the obvious shock and sadness regarding the Sandy Hook shooting, there is a patina of disgust that certain elements of government and their sycophants in the partisan media didn’t even wait for the bodies to cool before calling for new, stricter gun laws.

I have news for you: that’s not the solution. Before the shooter even walked out of his house, he had not only murdered his mother in cold blood but violated laws regarding unauthorized use of property. These guns weren’t his; he had taken guns belonging to his mother and legally purchased. Never mind the school was a “gun free zone,” all that gave the shooter was cold comfort he would be unopposed until he finished his rampage on his own schedule.

But Michael, you ask, why was it necessary for Nancy Lanza to have three guns? And I answer: why is it necessary to ask something which is none of your business? The question is insulting and is akin to asking why some of us own multiple cars or live in houses with more than one bathroom: some prefer the convenience of having a weapon they purchased for self-protection close at hand. If an intruder has me cornered in the garage and my gun is locked away in the bedroom it’s pretty much useless to me, isn’t it? Surely millions of American homes have multiple guns – a house I’ve lived in had a gun room with several rifles and shotguns which were taken when the previous tenant moved out. And it’s no one’s business but the owner’s.

Ironically, the city of Baltimore is doing a gun buyback program today, where those who wish to give up a piece of their Second Amendment rights receive their thirty pieces of silver in the form of a grocery gift certificate of $100. It’s popular with politicians who can claim they’re addressing the crime issue, but I’m sure criminals see it as a way to get rid of their hot guns which were used in committing a crime – just pay some dupe to bring the gun in and let them keep the $100 gift card to boot. Meanwhile, that key piece of evidence is lost and even if they somehow trace it back they catch the poor sap who brought the gun in rather than the real culprit.

There are those who point out that other nations have armed teachers or armed citizens at large and believe that stops criminals in their tracks. I think the idea of an armed citizenry has merit, but caution that it’s no panacea: obviously those at Sandy Hook were beginning a normal day and unaware that a shooter would be in their midst seconds later. The element of surprise was on his side, so there still would have been some victims regardless. Just like in the Aurora theater shooting, having more weapons present would have possibly saved some of the lives but also raised the potential of striking innocent victims given the swift reaction time required and the adrenaline rush the body naturally undergoes when danger is present. The shooter had the advantage of knowing and sighting his targets while one who is reacting has to quickly figure out where the shooter is coming from and is fortunate to strike center of mass on someone who is likely moving as he shoots before becoming a target himself. The shooter’s advantage dissipates with time, of course, but if one is uncaring for his life it doesn’t matter whether it ends by his own hand or “suicide by cop.”

Instead, it seems to me the problem is cultural at its root, but also touches on how we deal with people who have mental health issues as this shooter allegedly did. Rather than the Sandy Hook shooting, perhaps a better illustration of a purely cultural tragedy is this one, which happened earlier this week in Pennsylvania. The pictures of these accused teenagers brandishing guns or suggesting it with their gestures says a lot.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we had facilities to house people who may have needed mental help, but societal mores (and calls for government cutbacks) encouraged us to let these people walk among us. Now they comprise a significant portion of the homeless, and while most are relatively harmless you have the occasional violent exception.

We have a choice in this matter: we can put together more gun laws which will do absolutely nothing to address the problem but will make some politicians feel good (I can already see a number of Maryland General Assembly members who will write a gun-grabbing law and name it something along the lines of the Sandy Hook Law or Victoria Soto Law – anything to tug at the emotions) or we can step back, re-evaluate the situation, and try to do something which will have to start with the generation that bore the brunt of the carnage.

It’s not about bullying, or instilling a fear of guns, or anything like that. It’s promoting the idea that life is sacred, there is right and there is wrong and never the twain shall meet, and that the violence we see on television or their video games isn’t real – although it may look real in gory detail – but the reality of violence like this is that someone mourns the loss of a child, a parent, a relative, or someone else dear to them. We can and should do better at teaching these lessons, and not just have the knee-jerk reaction of blaming an inanimate object for our problems. The gun was a tool of destruction, but only a tool.

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