NPR has reported that 466 children were shot in 2012 in Chicago, 66 of the children died due to their gunshot wounds. This tragedy is easier to absorb, perhaps, because they were not all shot at the same time, inside a school with principles and staff trying to protect them.
But it is every bit as much a tragedy as what happen at Newtown.
Gun violence is a serious issue. I don’t know of *anyone* in the pro-gun movement who likes or supports the use of guns in non-self-defense situations. We all deplore this and condemn senseless acts of gun violence.
If guns were the only instrument used to commit mass murder, perhaps we would be more open to curtailing gun rights in the US. But they are not. Knives, cars, bats, sticks, rocks and other instruments are used in senseless violence. The problem is our culture of violence, not the presence of instruments that can be used for both good and evil.
In the coming days, we’ll face a barrage of ideas on how limiting Second Amendment rights will ensure that a crazy person will never commit senseless violence again with a gun. They will be wrong, of course, but that won’t matter. Most of what Washington does is based on politics and emotions, not on reasoned, thoughtful solutions that are brought to bear on a complex problem. Gaining votes from low-informed people who think primarily with their emotions rather than their heads may rule the day. Reducing serious issues to sound bits and pithy questions will further serve to keep our society from thinking through the difficult issues.
If 66 children needlessly killed in one year in one city isn’t worthy of prime time on Today or the Nightly News, then why is Newtown? Reinstituting the assault rifle ban will help many feel better, but it will do *nothing* to curtail senseless violence. Criminals will still get assault rifles and will use them to kill. It’s just that their victims, many times, who are law-abiding citizens will be outgunned because they obeyed the law and didn’t purchase an equal gun with which to defend themselves.
The 2nd amendment was written primarily to keep a tyrannical government from using force to overcome it’s citizenry. But the by-product of this right is our ability to defend ourselves against *any* aggressor, be it government or private citizen. To the extent our right is curtailed, the government’s and the criminal’s ability to impose their will on the minority or the defenseless through the use of force only increases.
Freedom is messy and difficult. The person to blame in the Newtown shooting is the shooter. Had the guns not been available, he would have found a different instrument or set of instruments to use to carry out his plan. He knew what he was doing. He knew it was wrong. And he carries the sole responsibility for his actions. Everyone wants to blame others because, I think, they want an explanation. If we can find someone to blame, then we have a basis from which to form our thinking about making sense of this senseless act.
But the mother isn’t to blame. Nor is the father or his brother. Guns didn’t force him to do this. The presence of a car didn’t make him drive the paths he drove to get to the school. The food he ate that morning didn’t give him the energy to commit this act and the bed he slept in didn’t cause him nightmares that resulted in this tragedy. Liberals are not to blame. Neither are conservatives. The shooter is the one to blame. Him alone.
I hope our Congress doesn’t act while emotions are running at a fever-pitch. Instead, I hope they take their time and whatever changes they do make, I hope they are reasoned and measured. But I will guarantee this: whatever changes they make will not stop the next act of senseless violence. They will tell us that their new changes will stop Newtown-types of senseless violence. But don’t believe them. Man has been killing man since the beginning of the world. That is not going to change, no matter what Congress does.
For a well-articulated opposing viewpoint, click here.
For a well-articulated book on how more guns means less crime, click here.