• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

A good friend of mine — the father of two lovely girls, a successful
dentist, and a former president of the Connecticut chapter of B’nai
B’rith — compared the concept of gun control to a story he told about a
brick. The story was that in biblical times a brick fell off a building,
struck a beloved leader of the community on the head, and killed him.
The community mourned, buried their leader, and then they demanded
justice. Although there was no one to blame, the magistrate in an effort
to stem the community’s wrath ordered the brick to be tried. The brick
was guilty and the penalty exacted was capital punishment. The brick was
smashed.

Last week in Los Angeles another brick was put on trial. This brick,
however, is ammunition. The Los Angeles Police Commission narrowly voted
to ban ammunition. I don’t know if attorney Chuck Michel had ever heard
of the story of the brick, but he understood the concept. According to
the Daily News,
“If this was any other civil right, but guns, the city would never dream
of doing this,” said Attorney Chuck Michel, who equated the measure with
trying to ban abortions by banning medical instruments.

In today’s world there are many items that are used for worthwhile,
if not absolutely necessary, purposes, which when misused, abused, or
malfunction become dangerous or lethal. All modes of transportation
including walking have inherent dangers, but we calmly get into a
3000-pound vehicle, which is sitting on a potential fuel bomb, without
even pausing one second to contemplate the risk. The American car
owner’s biggest fear is theft of their vehicle, not that their child
will take the car and drive into the schoolyard running down
classmates. Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner, in a Scripps
Howard commentary entitled, “Car
Control,”
examines the
car-gun analogy. He points out “The truth is, cars are more dangerous
than firearms. In 1997 there were 43,458 motor vehicle deaths in the
United States, according to the National Center on Health Statistics. By
comparison, there were 32,436 firearms deaths and fully half of those
were suicides.”

Yet, with each new and very well publicized shooting the call for
more restrictive firearms laws reaches new decibel levels. After
Monday’s Oklahoma school yard shooting the gun prohibitionists and their
media allies are quickly restarting their propaganda machines and
lamenting the fact that Congress didn’t pass more gun control laws in
1999. While those of us who believe in protecting civil liberties,
including the right to keep and bear arms, sound like a few lonely
voices in the wilderness.

Yet, more restrictions on the non-criminal gun owner doesn’t stop the
trend towards a world that is finding it extremely difficult to teach
its children how to deal with their emotions, let alone their violent
emotions. If more restrictions were the answer, Tuesday’s shooting
rampage in a Dutch schoolyard would not have happened. According to
Reuters,
a 17-year-old student, who was despondent about a failed romance, opened
fire on his classmates.

The story follows the same lines as Columbine, Springfield, Ore., and
the other school shooting tragedies. Yet, the comments by a fellow Dutch
student are instructive: “There were people running, police and all …
You’re used to seeing such things on television, in films, and now
suddenly it happens in a small village like Veghel.” That student,
without realizing it, recognized the globalization of violent behavior;
and too often that irrational behavior is carried out with firearms.

It’s becoming the global recreation of Lethal Weapon, but regrettably
Lethal Weapon 4 is not the final chapter. We appear to be anticipating
each sensational episode –just like I used to do when I went to the
Saturday matinee at the local movie house to see the next episode in the
weekly serial they were showing.

Through the entertainment medium of movies, television, music, and
unfortunately even the news, we have become inured to destruction,
violence and most of all injury and death. Daniel Goleman in Emotional
Intelligence argues that we are becoming a nation of emotional misfits,
blaming much of today’s violent behavior on what he calls emotional
illiteracy. Citing American and international studies, he clearly
demonstrates that the emotional health of the world’s children has been
dropping for the past two decades. The causes for this emotional malaise
and its resultant tragedies are the pressures of modern life that has
led to the disintegration of the family and the inability of people to
cope with ever-increasing stress. Goleman advocates teaching all school
age children to understand their emotions and the appropriate methods to
deal with them in today’s society.

While education is always a plus, the odds are already stacked
against education no matter how good the teachers. Today’s children live
in an environment that bombards them with violence on a 24-hour-a-day
schedule. The addition of a war on drugs that has been lost; social and
health programs that foster not only dependence, but are hotbeds of
financial embezzlement scandals; and a complete lack of understanding of
the concept of morality, sets the stage for the onset of a violent
social volcano.

Politicians understand how this volcano can erupt and wipe out
everything in its path; therefore they make feeble attempts to stop the
eruption. Failing that, they look for ways to divert the flow of anger.
It’s so much easier to target the inanimate object, than to solve the
more difficult social problems we have created in the last half of the
twentieth century. Long ago it was the brick; today it is ammunition and
guns. Will it be all civil liberties tomorrow?

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.