My Turn: After Newtown, what can we as a society do?
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE, Calif. – As the father of two young grade school boys, the most recent rampage shooting in Connecticut hit me particularly hard. If our children aren’t safe in the sanctuary of an elementary school, where are they safe? Once I learned of the ages of the victims, I changed the channel. I could not endure visions of precious young children filled with happiness and joy being terrorized and riddled with fear as they were about to be murdered. I still can’t watch any media coverage of the shooting without welling up, so I do so only in small doses.
Every time another mass murder occurs (that seem to be coming with frighteningly increasing frequency), the first thing we ask ourselves is how it could have been prevented. Gun control enters the public debate again, and the old adage – guns don’t kill people, people do – wears thinner and thinner. Then time passes, memories fade and nothing changes until the cycle repeats itself. I think we all agree something needs to be done. The question is what and where to start.
I propose that if guns were the core problem, this would be how a mass murder would occur: A mass murderer walks into a gun store and buys some guns. He gets the guns home and says to himself, “What should I do with these?” A light bulb goes on in his head and he tells himself, “I know, I’m going to kill a bunch of innocent people.”
You see, it’s the guns that made him do it.
That’s pretty naive. A mass murderer has a motive and a plan first. If he’s disturbed enough to plan his crime and motivated and brazen enough to carry it out, even with the tightest forms of gun control in place, finding a way to get a gun would be the least difficult obstacle to overcome for someone with the mindset of a mass murder.
Proponents of gun control would like to start by limiting access to the guns that are most often used by mass murderers. That makes sense, I suppose. Topping the list is the semi-automatic handgun (which is the most common gun owned by law abiding citizens for protection) followed by the assault rifle.
Let’s just say we could regulate assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns out of the hands of criminals. What then? We go back to the good old days when snipers used deer rifles and more personal assailants used shotguns and revolvers? Where do we stop?
Rather than debate the intent of the 2nd Amendment and what was in the minds of very wise men who lived more than 200 years ago, fail to come to an agreement and end up doing nothing again, we should deal with what’s in the minds of mass murderers who are products of the society we live in today.
What we can do right now is tighten up and enforce current gun laws by closing loopholes that permit guns to be bought without background checks or cooling off periods, and do better screening for those with mental illnesses.
Doing so should give us at least some comfort while our nation analyzes the psyche of the delegates who wrote the Constitution.
Maybe they knew something that has been lost on us that we now take for granted – freedom requires protection from tyranny.
Nick De Fiori is a Truckee resident.