Like all Americans, I was devastated by the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. I was shocked and angered as I watched early reports of the atrocity, and then had to shift from the TV to print media because I simply could not emotionally endure the endless loops of anguish and fear being poured from the screen. I cannot think of the loss or see any of the victims’ pictures without seeing my own precious grandson and imagining the horror of losing him, particularly in such a vile and sadistic act. Evil visited Newtown that Friday morning, and there was no one there to stop it. Brave teachers made efforts, but they were no match for an armed murderer.
Before authorities had even confirmed that multiple children had been killed, opportunistic politicians and hoplophobic media pundits had begun pointing at the weapons the murdering coward used and calling for new restrictions on firearms. Those calls have gotten louder and shriller as the days have passed with politicians from the president on down talking about renewed bans on ugly guns and common magazines. Talking heads like Piers Morgan and Ed Schultz have vented their rage in almost incoherent rants and assaults on guests who disagree with their radical disarmament demands. TV coverage has run non-stop since the tragedy began unfolding, showing anguished parents, heartbreaking pictures of happy young faces and haunting images of the deeply disturbed young man who committed this atrocity.
The media ignore the evidence that such heavy, non-stop coverage has been shown to encourage and inspire copycat murderers. They repeat the coward’s name and show his image over and over again, dissecting his life and looking at everything he has ever said or done. They plaster his picture around the world, providing a role-model for other disturbed individuals who might seek to obtain a similar level of immortality by trying to out-evil the devil. But the media can’t be controlled – they have a First Amendment right to publish what they want. And this sort of coverage keeps their ratings up, which is, after all, what really matters.
The exploitation of this horrible tragedy for political purposes has been more than unseemly and disrespectful. I have been loath to wade into it, but the president was correct: We must take action to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again.
Those who propose gun control as the solution – restrictions on certain types of firearms and ammunition feeding devices, registration, waiting periods, mandatory training, etc. – are misguided at best, or at worst have ulterior motives. None of their proposals would have the slightest impact on abominations like what happened in Newtown. They would not present the slightest obstacle to another tragedy like this, nor would they have any impact on other, more common types of crime. These experiments have already been tried and proven to be useless. The same with mythical technologies like ballistic fingerprinting, micro-stamping and smart-gun technology. They don’t work or don’t exist, and they’re useless in preventing criminal misuse.
As a matter of fact, the state of Connecticut currently has mandatory registration and a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” That didn’t stop this murdering coward, and it won’t stop the next one.
Those who dream of a “gun free” society are dreaming the impossible. With close to 300 million firearms in private circulation in this country, nothing short of house-to-house military action could significantly reduce those numbers – and any such attempt would be met with broad popular resistance – armed resistance. There are 70 to 80 million legal gun owners in the U.S., and a solid majority of them know that they have a natural and constitutional right to arms – no matter what Congress, the president, or the Supreme Court might say at some time in the future. A majority of police and military personnel believe this, too. Broad-scale confiscation of firearms in the U.S. is simply not possible, and any attempt at it would generate a whole new set of problems.
The only steps that have a chance at preventing or mitigating future mass shootings at schools are improvements in our mental-health system, along with armed security in every school in the country. Both of these proposals are expensive, but not as expensive as the gun-control schemes, and much more effective.
Over the next few days and weeks, there is going to be massive pressure in Congress and in state legislatures to “do something” in response to this awful tragedy. The longer action can be delayed, the greater the likelihood that reason and logic will prevail over blind emotion. Members of Congress and state legislators need to hear from concerned citizens now. They need to be told to reject any and all restrictions on firearms and feeding devices, and encouraged to support only approaches that have been proven to be effective at reducing crime and stopping spree-killers in their tracks: locking up dangerous people and having personnel in schools ready and able to defend their wards.
This tragedy shouldn’t have happened. It wasn’t caused by guns, and no gun-control law could have prevented it. Abrogating an enumerated right – and spending billions of dollars doing it – in a futile attempt to keep guns away from deranged killers is not an acceptable option. Let your elected servants know that.