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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sandy Hook Observations: After the fact, Part 2

I was going to do all of them in one blog, but it is a daunting task and there are so many, so I decided to break them up and do one every week or two. I realize that most are sick of it all by now and either way they don't want to read a 30 minute blog. So, I broke them up. Here is the second one. At the end is the first one.

It has now been 9 weeks since the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. They say time heals all wounds. We could debate that, but time does seem to take the sting out of them. As time passes, the emotion of that day and the week or two that followed has given way to lots of discussion and debate. And as it stands now, pretty much the status quo and a return to how it was before. That is mostly what happens in these types of situations. Will there ever be any concrete, tangible changes because of what happened at Sandy Hook? I doubt it. But at least for a short time it brought those issues to the surface like no other event since 9/11.
There were so many layers to this story and all the hysteria and debate it caused. When you boil it down however, Sandy Hook was the act of one very disturbed 20 year old and the tragic loss of 28 lives. Yes, I wrote 28, because I include Adam Lanza in that. He was human and I am sure if he had his choice he would not have wanted to been born broken and disturbed. That isn't really what this blog is about, but I wanted to mention that right off the top. A lot of people lost their lives on December 14th, 2012 and millions of others will be forever effected in some way. 
This blog however is about some observations I had in relation to what happened before and after the incident. Some bear on what did happen, but only indirectly.

Guns Kill people and people kill people. Let's stop both of them from killing people.

2) The polarization of the immediate debates on gun control. A worthy debate, but not really relevant to what happened in Sandy Hook and how to stop this sort of incident, if it is stoppable, which is debatable.
I was traveling most of the day the shooting happened. I heard a bit of it on the radio on my drive from Toronto to Pittsburgh. I had a very long day ahead of me the next day (11 hours, Pittsburgh to Birmingham, Alabama) so I was limited to how much time I could spend on Facebook. But it wasn't hard to see that the arguments and ranting had already started. Heated argument. Very heated arguments. It appears that friendships were lost over this.

This one event seemed to be a platform for all the cause seekers on both sides to push out their thoughts and agendas once again. And as usual, almost everyone missed the point. They do have points to make (many are valid on both sides) but in this case they were using an event that didn't have much of anything to do with their cause. That didn't stop any of them, which is not surprising. It never does.
Yes, guns kill people. That is their purpose. Gun are designed to shoot bullets that are generally aimed to at least severely injure and hurt and most times to kill.  Police are taught to shoot to kill, not just impede. Almost everyone who shoots a bullet at an animal or person is aiming to kill them. Guns are meant to kill people. No two ways about that. But as many on the pro gun side point out,  guns don't shoot themselves. People have to shoot them. So, it isn't the guns, it is people. People kill people.
People kill people. Yes, people kill people. Since the beginning of time people have killed people. And they will till the day I die and long afterwards. That will never stop. Yes, people with guns kill people. So do people without guns. 
Some use a knife. Others use poisons. While still others use blunt instruments like a baseball bat or cars. Still others use bombs and weapons of mass destruction. There is no end to the amount of ways that people can kill people. And if you took away all the ways they currently have to do it,  they will invent new ones. People, some people, want to kill people and they will find a way.  
When all else fails, some people can just beat you to death with their own fists and body. How are you ever going to stop that? You are not.
In this case, a mentally unstable young man who should not have had any access to any weapon that can do any harm did. But obviously he was intent on finding a way to do what he did, on some level. So, he would have. You can never stop all of these types from doing that. America has more than 300 million people. Some of those are going to slip through the cracks and find a way. Take away all the guns. Everyone's guns. Take away their knives, bombs,  crowbars, bats, whatever. They will find a way. Somehow. Worse comes to worse, they can use the oldest method available to man. Fire. You can't stop fire. Anyone can create fire. Are you going to take away the sun?
Yes, America has a huge problem with guns. A daily problem with guns and people who have them that should not. Take away all the freak incidents and what are you left with? More than 10,000 gun deaths a year.  Almost all of those are committed by people killing one or two people. Many with illegal firearms. 
This incident was a tragedy. But it would have happened on some level, somewhere, done by someone..whether he had a handgun, shotgun,  AK-47 or a knife. The incident is not about the gun issue. It is just one of those things. 
Would having tougher gun laws possibly prevented this incident? Maybe. It is possible. But maybe it would not have. Arguing for gun control based on this incident is arguing for something that is valid but has very little to do with the actual incident. I am in favor of very strict gun control. But not because of this incident. Because most people are not responsible enough or in need of a gun. Currently they have the right to have one. That doesn't mean they should. Rights are one thing. Being capable and deserving is another. That isn't a gun control issue, it is a common sense issue.
So, how do we stop this sort of thing. Take away the guns? Well, that simply won't work. We should take the guns away from most people because they don't need them. Period. But even if we did, when we do,  crazy people (and not so crazy people) will find a way to kill people if they really want to. That is just a fact of life.
How do I know this? Because long before there were guns,  they already did. In countries and areas where they don't have guns, they still do. 
I agree that America needs to rid themselves of guns. Too many people have them. It would be a safer place for all of us if they didn't have them. But arguing that it is time to do that because of this incident points out a sad fact about people. They justify an cause based on incident that has little to do with the reason they want the action initiated. And when they do that, people just tune them out.
That is what happened here. It is easy to discount an argument based on this tactic. And it has been. Which is why nothing will change. Not because of this incident anyway.
The goal is to stop people from being killed. We should focus on that. Trying to make this about guns, or mental illness or anything other than what it is, just undercuts your own argument. Taking guns away might stop some people from being killed. It might have stopped some or all of these Sandy Hook kids and adults from being killed. But it might not have.  
The bigger gun control issue is simply a matter of determining who should actually have a gun and if the right people were the only ones with guns,  how many lives overall would be saved and how much safety would be lost by those who now don't have a gun at their disposal. That is the debate about gun control that should take place. Not about one incident caused by one mentally unstable man who would likely find a way to achieve his delusional goal anyway.

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