Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown has given gun-control proponents yet another opportunity to demand new legislation from their elected representatives. Obviously, this is not a surprise as the unimaginable horror of that day almost certainly mandates something be done to prevent further such tragedies. However, as history has shown, legislation passed in the shadow of emotion is almost always ineffective and counter-productive. Regardless of one’s personal preferences regarding gun control, we should all hope legislators keep their emotions in check and author legislation that is based not on emotion but on logic and practicality.
However, before getting into that conversation, we should all acknowledge that nothing will fully prevent such episodes from taking place in the future. For example, over the past few months, Chinese children have been brutalized by a spate of knife attacks and banning knives would not only be impractical but impossible. The point being that a mentally unstable person, as the perpetrators of such actions generally are, will use whatever they have at their disposal to achieve their goal. Therefore, the solution in these cases is not banning knives – or other such items – but providing the necessary treatment and oversight for these individuals and their caregivers.
Having said that, the argument that one can cause more damage with a semi-automatic weapon than with a sharp knife is quite valid and legislation that limits access to such weapons by mentally unstable people must be enforced. We should also admit, however, that even if such were fully enforced, they would not have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre because the weapons used in this event were legally issued to someone who was neither mentally unstable or had a criminal record. In addition, even if the sale of semi-automatic weapons was banned, the perpetrator would have had access to other guns. Therefore, the only solution that makes sense in this scenario would be the banning all guns and that is neither practical nor realistic.
I am not a big fan of the National Rifle Association and its scorched earth tactics that have done more harm than good to both our society and legislative process. I also believe that comments by legislators and commentators stating that teachers should be armed are stupid and show a total lack of common sense. Instead of either arming everyone under the sun with a dangerous weapon or implementing ineffective legislation, our elected representatives should do the following two things: Increase funding for the effective treatment and oversight of the mentally unstable, and mandate that gun sellers implement proper training requirements for the storage and use of these weapons by their customers. While nothing can fully stop such tragedies in the future, these actions can go a long way in reducing them and saving innocent lives.