The Gun Debate- Who is the Boogeyman?
If every teacher had a concealed gun in his/her classroom on December 14, 2012, would fewer children and teachers have died in Sandy Hook Elementary School?
Tragedies always stir debates and the greater the tragedy, the more heated the debate. The debate over guns surfaced quickly as the media gained momentum with continued non-stop coverage of the Connecticut shooting massacre that left more questions than answers.
The fact that the shooter was a middle class white male, and the crime was committed in a peaceful suburban neighborhood, really stripped down this heinous crime. There was no racial profiling as in the Trevon Martin case. No terrorist plot. Leaving the nation with only two focal points: guns and mental illness.
When a tragedy spurs debate there is a positive side and a downside. The bright side is we become more determined than ever to solve a problem. United in grief, we become bold, energized and impassioned. Despite our religious and political differences, we are empowered by a universal agreement. The desire to protect our children from further harm.
The downside of tragedy spurring debate is that while we unite in our grief and vision to end violent massacres, we lose sight of what it takes to get there. All good solutions require brainstorming and negotiation. The gun control debate is no exception.
A proponent of stricter gun control called the NRA “lovers of violence.” That’s ludicrous and a cheap shot and the kind of dialog you can expect when emotion drives debate. It’s safe to assume 99.99% of Americans want to prevent mass shootings that kill innocent people, including NRA members.
Is the only way to fight violence with violence? If this elementary school had concealed weapons, would an adult been able to shoot the perpetrator before he killed all those children? Let’s assume the answer is yes.
What if every law abiding citizen had a gun in their purse or coat in the movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado? Would the killer be dead now instead of innocent movie goers? Let’s assume the answer is yes.
Take every public massacre within the last decade and put guns in the hands of the innocent. My guess is we’d have fewer deaths and more heroes in those episodes.
BUT this inquiry requires a more in depth look. There is an inherent flaw in the argument that more guns will make us safer.
The argument assumes that we can tell which people in society can responsibly handle owning weapons over time. Just as nobody predicted Adam Lanza to suddenly open fire on innocent children, how do we know who, when and how somebody–anybody–might snap.
No doubt criminals who are determined to kill can get their hands on weapons, regardless of whether they are legal or not. I don’t think anybody would argue that fact.
All we can do is build in layers of protection. Barriers of deterrence. Much like homeowners do to protect their homes from theft. Better door locks, windows, dogs, and alarm systems. These steps aren’t full proof but provide layers of protection. At the very least, layers buy time.
Recently a Kansas City Chiefs player killed the mother of his infant daughter and then himself. A week prior no one would have predicted he was capable of such an act. We cannot predict human behavior. The more easy access there is to guns, the more potential for a deranged boyfriend to use a gun instead of a fist.
There was a similar school tragedy in China recently where little children were harmed. The weapon was a knife. All of the victims survived.
There was a time I considered buying a gun when I was biking hundreds of miles on isolated roads far from home by myself. But if I have that right, so do millions of other Americans, and I don’t live inside their heads.
We can’t evaluate gun control based on our emotional reaction to a school massacre where a gun might have saved lives.
The reality is public massacres are rare but individual shootings occur daily. If we trust our teachers to conceal weapons, do we trust our fellow drivers, employees, bosses, neighbors, or family members? How well do we really know people, even those closest to us?
Combine life stresses, addiction and mental illness with our nation’s desensitization to violence. Our 20 something generation has grown up on blood and gore on screens of all sizes. Most are law abiding good kids. Most will be contributors not offenders in society. Yet we can’t predict how people will react when they lose their job and in debt, when their husband or wife has an affair, when they’re suffering depression or severe anxiety, when they’re bullied or feeling alienated, or when they become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Best we put as many layers as we can between the triggers and hands of sick individuals. The unfortunate truth is we don’t know who’s sick and who’s not.
If tears could build a stairway
And God could hear your moans
I’d climb up to your little angels
So I could bring them home