I have hesitated to post a blog about the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting and the murders of two firefighters in New York until now because I needed to process it all myself. There are no words to explain why these kind of things happen. How can reasonable minds understand the actions of a madman?
As expected, the knee jerk reaction is to ban guns, especially “assault rifles” and high capacity magazines. That’s the easy answer, although it would not change a thing. I am not going to get into the whole gun control debate because everything that could be said has been said, over and over. But I will try to interject some reason into the discussion.
For the record, I am a lifelong gun owner. And horror of all horrors, I actually own not one, but two of the dreaded AR-15s that are being so vilified right now. They are fine rifles and I enjoy target shooting with them. I will not apologize for that, nor will I try to justify it in your eyes. I also recognize that, as a gun owner, I have a responsibility to society to use and secure my firearms properly.
However, if I truly believed that we could save even one innocent life by doing away with guns, I’d get a torch and cut every one I own in half today. But it would not do a thing.
I have owned hundreds of guns in my life, and used even more in the military; handguns, rifles, shotguns, even machineguns. In all of the history of firearms technology, they have never built one yet that has the ability to load itself, drive itself to a school or movie theater, and shoot somebody. So guns, in and of themselves, are not the problem.
Like it or not, we are an armed nation. And no matter what laws are enacted, guns are not going away. There are millions of them in America; the criminal element doesn’t care about the law so they are not going to surrender theirs, and a lot of law abiding gun owners are not going to give theirs up, no matter what anybody says or does. If they placed a total ban on all guns today, I guarantee you there would still be a multitude of firearms of every flavor under store counters, in closets, nightstands, and gun safes in every town in America. That’s reality, folks.
The suggestion has been made that we allow, or even require, teachers and school administrators to be armed. That is nonsense. I have no problem with it IF (and this is a big if) they are properly trained not only in gun safety, but also the tactical use of a firearm in a life or death situation. And there are probably only a small percentage of them who are or will go to the time and expense of getting such training.
What would make sense is to have controlled access to schools just like we do Federal courthouses, with metal detectors and trained guards or police officers. Yes, that will cost a lot of money. Let’s use some of what we give to other countries to make our own nation safer.
Somebody said that this isn’t the answer, that schools should not have to become armed camps and that kids should not have to be exposed to the fear of what might happen in their school next. They said that the solution is to change society. Okay, but society isn’t going to change overnight, or even in our lifetime. So what can we do today? If your house is on fire, you call a fireman, you don’t enter into a debate about what you could have done to prevent the fire. There will be time for that once the fire is out.
The first thing we all need to acknowledge is that evil exists in our world. It always has and it always will. And those who intend to do evil deeds will find a way to do so, whether they use a firearm to kill children in a school classroom, or box cutters to take over an airplane and fly it into a building; or fertilizer to blow up a building. We cannot always stop evil, no matter how much we want to.
No, we cannot always stop evil. What we can do is recognize it and try to deal with it before a tragedy happens. With the school shooter in Connecticut, the maniac who killed the people in a Colorado movie theater recently, and the nutcase that shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other innocents in Tucson, there was prior knowledge that they were troubled. (Troubled is a politically correct word for weird or crazy). But nothing was done about them until it was too late.
So, do we lock up everybody who seems weird to us? And who gets to define weird? Am I weird because I choose to live in a motorhome and travel the country instead of living in a traditional home somewhere? Is somebody else weird because they feel the need to go door to door spreading the word of their chosen religion? How about the old man who sits on his front porch and waves at every car that passes by, or yells at every kid in the neighborhood who comes down the sidewalk? Is he weird?
I don’t have any answers. I wish I did. We cannot stop every evil person in the world from doing harm. But there are things we can do.
We can recognize that when somebody is teetering on the edge, we need to get them help. And failing that, we have to isolate them from society.
And we have to stop the revolving door that our justice system has become. If somebody rapes a woman, molests a child, or commits a murder, they need to be gone, and they should not get a second chance. History has shown us over and over that too many of them will do it all over again.
The man who ambushed the firemen in New York had previously served 18 years in prison for beating his grandmother to death with a hammer. Here in the Orlando area two days ago, a man with a long history of violence, who was released from prison just six days earlier after serving time for murder, stabbed a man in a wheelchair and killed him. The guy who murdered my brother in 1968 was 16 years old. He was released on his 21st birthday, and a year later he stabbed someone. That victim survived, but three years later he was back on the street, and the day he was released he murdered his mother because she would not let him drive her car. When will we ever learn?
Tags: AR-15s rifle, assault rifles, child molesters, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, gun control debate, gun owner, guns and crime, handguns, high capacity magazines, history of violence, machineguns, metal detectors, murderers, murders of two firefighters in New York, Newtown school shooting, rifles, secure firearms properly, shotguns