Why we can do better to prevent tragedies like Newtown than gun-control

December 30, 2012

Initially, I really didn’t want to write about the tragedy that occurred in Newtown; however, I believe it is important to do so. Currently there is a furor over the ownership of semi-automatic firearms, with calls for them to be banned, or otherwise restricted. This is something that we cannot abide by, and no one should support, particularly if we want to prevent such a tragedy in the future.
Growing up, my mother never let me use excuses for anything bad I did. If I broke the rules, it wasn’t anyone else’s fault but my own. As a society we have moved away from the notion of self-responsibility, or blaming people for their actions, and instead we try to pin the blame elsewhere. There likely is something to be said for environmental factors in a person’s upbringing that can cause them to turn to crime, or otherwise act in ways which go against society’s rules. However, it is a folly to blame everything on factors other than the person themselves. Currently people are blaming guns for the tragedy that occurred, instead of blaming the killer. However, no one seems to be blaming HIM for what happened. It was Adam Lanza alone who committed this atrocity, the guns were a means for him, and however, history has shown that people bent on destruction will always find a way to do so. Timothy McVey used fertilizer to kill hundreds in the Oklahoma City Bombing, and in Germany, a man built a home-made flame thrower to kill elementary school children.
Going after the guns will not stop such tragedies in the future, we have to try and get to the root of the problem. I, for one, am not one who necessarily believes media should be blamed either, however, for those who look for sense behind senseless acts, I believe the problem does lie with our society. We do not value human life the same way we used to. We also have a media which elevates these deranged people into celebrities. As we sensationalize these stories, it becomes a twisted game for the deranged members of our society, they try to gain more notoriety by trying to “out-do” the previous massacre.
The fact is, I believe we are going about this the wrong way. What we are doing now is like taking cough medicine when you have pneumonia, it may make some feel better, but it’s doing nothing to treat the larger issue. We need to try and find out why these people are doing what they do, and try to stop the actual cause of the problem. Guns are not the problem, the problem is that there are people out there who feel the need to harm others, and we’d all be safer if we could stop them from hurting us, in any way, than if we simply target firearms. I am of the opinion that the mental health system is completely broken, and severely underfunded. Many take issue with criminals simply being turned loose due to prison over-crowding, but few stop to think about how mentally ill people are ignored, and how many do not receive the treatment they need due to our current system.
I would also like to point out that part of the problem is that the people who commit such crimes purposely look for areas where they can make the greatest impact. For them, ideal areas are ones where they can kill as many people as possible before they are stopped. That is why all of these shootings have occurred in areas where there are a lot of people, and where there are no armed personnel. I refer to my earlier point that the people who commit such acts are looking to make a name for themselves, and in order to do that, they need to harm as many people as possible to grab media attention. The NRA’s school shield proposal is fantastic in this regard. By having trained, armed guards in school, we will prevent them from being “soft-targets” easy for evil people to attack, and prevent them from being able to cause harm like they did before. If nothing else, it may help to buy time for the police to arrive, and prevent the children from being targeted first, helping to save lives. As a matter of fact, in shootings where there is a legally armed person in the vicinity, the average casualty rate drops from around 14 people, to only 2. No matter how you feel about guns, I would like to hear one argue against the idea that a trained, armed, individual on the premises would be unable to help? Police only have to qualify with their weapons twice a year, and as with the shooting outside the empire state building, they are just as, if not more likely, to hit bystanders than a civilian who routinely practices with their firearm. Having an armed guard there before something bad happens only makes sense, after all, if it didn’t, and everything could wait for police intervention, and then there would be no need for armored cars to have guards. Every second that passes while the police are en route is a potential life lost. The faster the response, the more people we can save.
This issue isn’t about guns. Our society has a problem with people not being property socialized with others, and in a media that brings fame to murderers through obsessive coverage, we’re fueling the flames of tragedy. We will not solve the problem unless we improve our methods of identifying people who could be a danger, and if we can get the family of these individuals to step up, and ensure that if they need help, that they get it. We seem to think that we can throw prescription drugs at any health problem, and magically cure it. However, since we cannot ensure these individuals are taking their medicine, or rely on them to seek treatment due to the stigma attached, we must think of how to fix this situation. This is likely a far better solution than banning guns, which will do nothing to stop the actions of evil men.

I urge any and all readers to take a moment, and contact your representative, and tell them you oppose any gun control measure. Please, tell them to solve the real problem, which is the broken mental health system in this country. The means in which evil people carry out their deeds is not the factor, rather, we must stop them from carrying out such wicked acts in any way we can, but targeting lawful gun ownership will do nothing, instead we should treat the root of the problem, and find out what can be done to identify these individuals before they act.

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