2013

2 January 2013: Gun debate has many nunaces

Perhaps good can come of the more-than-horrific mass murder of 20 of our most innocent Americans and their teachers.  As a retired a teacher, I “get it” as does every current and retired teacher when it comes to what teachers do: first protect your charges even at the cost of your life.

The children—what can one say?  Their slayings tear the heart out of every decent human being.

As I wrote last week, maybe key public leaders, heretofore unwilling the face the political backlash, will finally stand up to the gun lobby that prefers uttering shibboleths about how we must do more to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the mentally unstable instead of taking the not-so-drastic step of eliminating such weapons.

It has engendered a conversation unheard in decades.  The mass killing of innocents can have that effect.

In one of the more thought-provoking pieces “We have so many questions,” columnist Rich Tosches in the December 23rd edition of the Denver Post wonders why the mother of a “friendless, creepy kid” not only thought it a “terrific idea to fill her house with heavy-duty weaponry,” but also to bring him to a gun range to “share the joy of laying down a withering hail of hellfire.”

In turn I wonder how many other “well-intentioned” parents are currently unwittingly following that same course.  Thousands?  From what I understand, Adam Lanza was not diagnosed with a mental disorder.  Regardless whether he should’ve been or simply snapped and opted to take out his frustrations on the universe vis-à-vis innocent children, they’re all dead.

The lesson to be learned is that even if we could prevent such weapons from getting into the hands of those officially diagnosed, countless others, primarily young men between the ages of 18 and 24 that are simply angry and not mentally disabled, legally have the legal right to secure them.

A consistent theme mentioned by several letter writers is the role of violent video games.  I do not disagree with them, but then again they reflect American culture, for we, as I claimed last week, “adore violence.”  Look how easily gullible millions fell for the George Bush lie about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction and became giddy over his “shock and awe” campaign.  For many Americans, often the ones that have no skin in the game, war is the answer.

One letter writer repeated the refrain about “two-parent families.”  I grew up with a single-mother, yet both Columbine mass murders both Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris came from “stable” two-parent homes.  There goes that argument.

The same writer goes on to repeat the same illogic about how such shootings are the direct result of “removing God and prayer from our schools” and the “decline of church attendance.”

Our counterparts in England live in one of the most secular countries on earth but boast of one of the lowest murder rates in the world.  There goes that argument.

Then there is Justice Antonin Scalia who, as Tosches points out, argues that the Second Amendment “does not apply to arms that cannot be carried: it’s to keep and ‘bear’ arms,” but does an about-face when conceding “there are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes.”   So much for consistency.

Finally, there is the tired argument about only “bad guys” having guns if they’re taken them away from “good guys.”  Several points:

One, few argue for complete personal disarmament.  Hunting rifles and small hand guns some feel a need to carry for personal protection are not weapons of mass destruction unlike the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle Lanza used to carry out his mass killing.

Two, the “bad guys” who carry out these heinous acts oftentimes, as so many acknowledge, suffer from mental illness and thus arguably “amoral,” lacking any sense of right and wrong.

Three, that argument presupposes a bi-polar society of nearly equal halves of good and evil.  Proponents operate on the premise that humans are intrinsically evil and should not be trusted.  In my life experiences I’ve learned most are trustworthy and intrinsically honest and thus come to see fellow humans intrinsically good and worthy of trust.

Undoubtedly, the issue is complex with countless nuances, but one’s position begins with his/her life philosophy.  If it is based upon mistrust of one’s neighbor and fellow citizen, violence is likely to ensue in ways once unimaginable.

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