In Connecticut, a young man went on a shooting rampage in a school today. It's beginning to sound all too familiar, and the devastating effect it will have on that small community will last for generations.
The Connecticut shootings have left at least 27 people dead, including 20 children. The knee jerk reaction from many in the US has been a call for stricter gun laws. Rightfully so?
I am appalled at America's obession with firearms, (I believe "my right to bear arms" completely and absolutely contradicts "In God We Trust"... who am I to state the obvious!?), though I believe that stricter gun laws is a good deal part of the issue, it's got to be deeper than stating the obvious.
The issue has to be a whole lot deeper. For example, living here in New Zealand, we have pretty easy access to firearms. In fact, here in Christchurch, we boast the largest dedicated gun store in the world, Gun City (take that Texas!!!). It's actually not all that hard for us to get a gun. Not sure that means much though, Australia has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, but that didn't stop Martin Bryant. Don't even mention Norway!
Our response to such shootings, before we get angry at "gun control" laws, or sad for the death of innocents, is just "theses people are crazy". Without knowing who the gunperson was, it's obvious that there was a serious issue in regards to their mental stability for them to do such a thing (especially in regards to the Connecticut shooting where 20 children were killed). So instead of discussing the issue of gun control, shoulding we be talking about the decline in mental health?
The gun control question is easy. For example, how does a person like Jared Loughner (who shot 19 people, killing 6, including a 9 year old girl, and seriously injurying Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords after shooting her in the head), walk into a sports store and buy a gun (a high powered 9mm Glock), when throughout his short life he displayed serious mental illness (including complaining about voices in his head, and mulitple emotional outbursts in high school)? It's simple, tighten Gun laws people if you don't want this to continue happening! The issue of mental health is not so easy...
Here are some stats for you (does not include today's shooting):
- Since 1982 there have been 61 mass shootings in the US.
- Most (over 75%) of the weapons (139 of them) used in those shootings were obtained legally.
- 38 of the 61 killers had prior mental health problems.
- 42 commited suicide after/during the event (including 7 who were killed in a police shoot out known by experts as "suicide by cop").
- In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun (now there's a telling stat!).
Could any of the killers have been stopped in advance? Stricter gun laws would have definitely stopped a good number of them. The "right to bear arms" is as absurd as World War One was! It's an outdated, egotistical, human power trip, and as the stats above show, there is no evidence that arming people stops mass shootings, in fact the opposite is true.
But going back to the deeper issue, if the mental health system is working well, then there would also be a better system in identifying who should really be staying away from guns. You don't let certain people with epilepsy drive a car at night, or allow a drunk to work heavy machinery (even though in Missouri you can carry a gun while intoxicated, even use it for self defense - people in Missouri have worked out a way to think straight while intoxicated, what a remarkable State that must be!!!). So it may just make sense to not allow someone with schizophrenia or severe depression to carry a gun! Or am I talking too much sense?
You can't stop every incident, but you can reduce instances, and that's got to be more important than "my right to bear arms", especially in a nation that calls itself Christian, where a Chritian believes that Jesus laid down His life for them, even though they were sinners and certainly not deserving of such a sacrifice. It's more than just making gun laws stricter, it's also making sure that the mental health system is working. That people with mental health issues are identified and cared for appropriately and humanely, and proper laws put in place to protect those around them.