Just replace OCC in Oregon for Sandy Hook in Connecticut. Rinse. Repeat.Â
On a Friday less than two weeks before Christmas an American tragedy occurred in Connecticut. Adam Lanza shot and killed twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Then Adam fled the scene to his home where he killed his mother and himself. These cold facts in no way capture the tragedy. The children were six and seven year old first graders who went to school that morning like it was any other Friday. Lanza was just a boy himself, twenty-two years old, intelligent but mentally challenged with a form of autism characterized by difficulties in social interaction called Asperger syndrome. He still lived at home with his mother and often slept in her bed. Obviously something not quite right about that, but also nothing to shine a light on the violence he harbored in his heart.
And then, before that town in Connecticut had even grasped what happened or the parents’ shock had turned to grief, before twenty tiny coffins found solace in cemeteries across the county, there began a political drumbeat that sounded into every corner of America. Gun control. Gun control. Every act of gun violence not involving known criminals moved from the city page to the front page, the lead story, the drumbeat. Gun control. Gun control. From Montana to the nation’s capital children were kicked out of school for pointing their fingers like a pistol at each other, playing cops and robbers at recess like they have since Smith met Wesson. Gun control. Gun control. Presidential inquiries are made of the National Rifle Association about the need for certain types of weapons, but there are no inquiries about an entertainment industry that makes more and more violent movies and games that imitate the very thing Adam Lanza executed. And the President of the United States executes 23 executive orders pertaining to gun laws in a single day because Congress would not heed the siren song. Gun control. Gun control.
So, is gun control the solution to Sandy Hook? No, it is an obfuscation of a social and political failure. It is the new American way. If we despair of winning the fight, we search of something else to focus on, something related to the real fight so it may appear that we are winning.
When we despair of war, hollywood celebrates our heroes in uniform. They are honored at every sporting event. Celebrities put on their patriot hats and make public service announcements about them. These are the same folks who said, during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the War on Terror, the only reason young people join the military is because they don’t have an education and haven’t anywhere else to go. This causes some consternation among the preponderance of military officers with a college degree, many with advanced degrees. Yet now the airwaves clamor that these uneducated, desperate military men and women are heroes, and it takes the focus off the missions we are running from or the wars we are flat out losing. Wars and missions, by the way, the soldiers desperately want to complete.
Now we despair of the violence in our society, and gun control is the canard of choice. It misses the point, but someone up there in Washington or over in L.A. can feel good about “doing something.” The tragedy at Sandy Hook is a symptom of our sickness. The disease is the unchecked criminal violence in our country, glorified in our entertainment and media. And the Godfather is good cinema, I agree. It is one of the best films ever made. Only, mafia bosses and drug lords and terrorists are not heroes, even if they play one on TV. The fact remains that we have not been able to check the criminal violence in our cities, and gangs continue to kill each other and their innocent victims no matter how hard we try to make it to own a gun. In Chicago, our President’s home town (or is that somewhere in Malaysia), they have the strictest gun laws in the country and the criminal murders there have never been worse.
But, gun control gun control the drumbeat repeats. If we don’t let people have guns there will never be another tragedy like Sandy Hook. If we disregard our duty to defend ourselves and our families and our neighborhoods and “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” we will live in a gun free paradise where everyone is safe. Just guessing here, but I still think criminals will get the guns they need to perpetrate their nefarious deeds whether it’s against the law or not. They are criminals after all, and that implies a disregard of the law. And innocent people will still be killed by guns, and not just by criminals but by people like Adam Lanza, too. It is no coincidence that most mass shootings, like the ones in Sandy Hook and Columbine, are carried out in “gun free” zones. That phrase, gun free zones, sounds kind of like an invitation to anyone like Lanza.
Now, I do own a gun. It’s a double barreled 20-gauge shotgun that was my grandfathers. I haven’t shot it for twenty years. I don’t even know if it works, and I don’t have any shells for it anyway. I’m not a gun guy. I don’t go hunting. I don’t want a handgun in the house, although the gun control drumbeat of the past weeks has made me consider going to get one and shells for the 20-gauge, too, before it’s too late. It just seems that America has lost it’s knack for fixing the problem. Instead, when we fail, we find someone or something else to blame. Blaming guns won’t help. Franklin Graham says, “it’s not what is in our hands, but what’s in our hearts” that needs to change. And when a six year old boy points his finger at his friend and says, “Stick ’em up,” Sandy Hook is not in his heart.
Before we make laws to control guns, we should remember what we are fighting. I was walking my dogs the other day and Coulton, one of my son’s friends in the neighborhood, was outside and saw me walking by.
“Can Troy play?” he asked me.
“Sure, you should go over there and see,” I answered, trying to maintain my control of the dogs.
He held up the toy Davie Crocket, Kentucky flintlock rifle he had in his hands. “I want to show him the new gun my daddy got me,” he said.
Coulton is not the enemy, neither is his father, and taking the toy gun out of his hand will not solve Sandy Hook.
Van Jones says of course we need gun control. But we also must face that a lot of violence is linked to economic desperation and despair.
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