The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre has blamed the Newtown shootings on just about everything and everybody except guns and the gun-fetishizing culture the NRA promotes. He thinks the answer is armed guards in every school (cost be damned).
Maybe this is a job for TSA – they could deploy flocks of uniformed personnel, and full body scanners, to make going to school as tortuous as getting to a flight. Sure would reduce unemployment.
We have a right to own guns, just like any other sporting equipment, which doesn’t even depend on the Second Amendment. But there’s never a right to be free of reasonable regulation to prevent harm to others. Indeed, the words “well regulated” appear in the Second Amendment itself. And assault weapons are not “sporting equipment;” their only conceivable use is to kill people, and lots of them. Surely it’s reasonable to ban such weaponry, just like banning mustard gas or anthrax spores.
But note that Adam Lanza didn’t even use assault weapons. In fact, no conceivable reasonable gun restrictions could have blocked him. Lanza didn’t buy the guns; they were his mother’s.
This highlights another point. While gun ownership is often vaunted as protection against bad guys, in actuality overwhelmingly more bullets wind up in family members than baddies. Many such shootings are accidental, or suicides, and many victims are children. Guns in the home kill vastly more kids and spouses (many hundreds annually) than intruders (close to zero).
We’re told that responsible gun owners safeguard their weapons to prevent mishaps. Sure. As if everyone is responsible 100% of the time. There’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip. The fact remains that if you own a gun, it’s far more likely to injure a loved one, or you yourself, than some criminal. As Mrs. Lanza learned.
So how do we prevent mass shootings? Having fewer guns around would help. That Chinese whacko stabbed a lot of people, but none died. America’s murder rate is way higher than in Europe, and it’s not because Americans are bloodthirstier; it’s the guns, which Europeans control quite strictly. A twerp like Lanza would not likely have been able to kill anyone if his mother hadn’t been a gun enthusiast. That kind of enthusiasm should be societally discouraged and stigmatized, rather than celebrated as the NRA does. (The “sport” of shooting innocent creatures, causing suffering and death, is barbaric and atavistic.)
We’re also told more must be done about mental illness. Fine; probably. But unfortunately derangement is a fact of life; the kind of sicko who could shoot a six-year-old in the face will always be with us.
But my main recommendation is to calm down. The NRA proposal for armed guards in every school is lunacy. What schools don’t need is more guns in them! (Note: There was actually an armed lawman in Columbine.) Even with an occasional Newtown, schools remain one of the safest places anyone can be. Just as, despite the occasional crash or terrorist episode, you’re rarely safer anywhere than while flying. (And that would remain true even if the TSA were mercifully abolished.)
Child safety is important, but the idea that we can or should strive to reduce all dangers to zero is a fantasy. Life itself is inherently unsafe. And however dangerous guns are, there’s something we all own that’s far more dangerous: automobiles. They kill many more kids than guns ever do.
Am I just being too rational?