I don't have any profound points to make about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT this morning. No one can when faced with a horror such as this one. But I cannot remain silent merely because I do not know the best words to use to express myself.
Since the massacre at Columbine, I've feared for my children at school. After the Virginia Tech massacre, I feared for my son when he went to college. My daughter - no, make that my lovely and precious daughter - is seventeen and a senior in high school and I still feel afraid for her. Last night she went on a double date with her boyfriend, and with her best friend and her boyfriend. They went bowling, and I know this isn't entirely rational, but I was worried about her going there, being out in public, exposed to the whims of my fellow armed citizens.
However, my fear was not entirely irrational. Because, if we have learned anything, it is that no place in our country is safe from gun violence. Not a church or a temple. Not a shopping mall or a supermarket parking lot. Not a movie theater and probably not a bowling alley. For many Americans, not even walking down the street is safe. This is the country we have allowed to come into existence. This is our America in 2012. Like a bad movie it just keeps repeating itself.
Many of us have allowed our love of guns to trump our good common sense. Many others, out of fear for their political careers, or an unwillingness to speak up and rock the boat, or maybe just sheer indifference, allowed the National Rifle Association, an organization once primarily dedicated to promoting gun safety for hunters, to become a political monster in our midst. A monster that kills without any remorse for its victims. Its weapons of choice are money and fear.
The NRA now pushes guns on people like drug dealers push heroin. They tell us that more guns in more places is the solution to our national problem with deadly gun violence. They, with their allies at the Koch brothers funded conservative political organization, ALEC, have seen to it that laws have been passed that promote gun use, such as the "Stand Your Ground" laws. The same type of law such as the one in in Florida, which has been shown to reduce the number of cases prosecutors bring for homicide and resulted in defendants going free in 70% of the cases where that law was raised as a defense.
In Arizona, gun laws there allowed protesters to openly brandish loaded weapons, handguns and rifles, at political rallies, a form of political terrorism and intimidation. In Michigan, the lame duck Republican controlled Legislature just rammed through a bill that will permit people with concealed carry permits to bring handguns into Michigan churches, schools and daycare centers. Other states have passed laws allowing guns to be brought into bars and restaurants where liquor is imbibed. Supporters of such laws tell me these laws will make us safer. For the life of me I do not see how.
I may not know much, but I do know when you add more guns to a place and a dispute breaks out the more likely they those guns are to be used. Used to maim and kill. How many times have you read news stories about verbal disputes, whether in someone's home, or in public, which escalated into violence? How many have you read where the introduction of guns led that violence to end in the shootings and the deaths of people? Too many times for me. Ask a police officer if he feels safer because all the other cops are armed when a shootout with an armed suspect breaks out. Better yet, ask a cop who was shot and killed in a "situation" where the non-police officer was armed. Yes, forgive me. I know, that's impossible. Sorry for even suggesting it.
My point, perhaps the only one I have, is that adding more guns to our ever growing personal arsenals, and permitting more of them in more places, is not the answer to gun violence, it only makes incidents of gun violence more likely and more deadly. There are a plethora of "reasons" why many people in America turn guns on themselves or on others, and then pull the triggers of those guns, letting loose bursts of small metal objects traveling at great speeds that take the lives of other human beings. But the core thing they all have in common is the ready availability of firearms in this country. Let me explain by telling you about an incident of violence against children where guns were not involved.
Oddly enough, today in Chengping China, a deranged man attacked a group of school children with a knife. I wounded 22 of them. A heinous crime. Obviously, crazy people in other countries will find ways to commit violence against innocents, even small children, much like the children of Sandy Hook, even when they do not have the same ease of access to firearms as we do in America.
But here's the difference. Read it for yourself from this USA Today article:
A knife-wielding man injured 22 children and one adult outside a primary school in central China as students were arriving for classes Friday, police said, the latest in a series of periodic rampage attacks at Chinese schools and kindergartens. [...]You see, this madman did not have the ability to obtain two handguns and a rifle, as did the killer of six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He still found a way to attack them though -- with a knife. However, the result could not be more different. That man with the knife in China probably wanted to kill a lot of people, including children, at the elementary school in Chengping, just as the man with the three guns in Newtown, CT wanted to kill adults and children at Sandy Hook. Only one succeeded, however, in murdering anyone. The man with the guns.
A Guangshan county hospital administrator said the man first attacked an elderly woman, then students, before being subdued by security guards who have been posted across China following a spate of school attacks in recent years. He said there were no deaths among the nine students admitted, although two badly injured children had been transferred to better-equipped hospitals outside the county.
A doctor at Guangshan's hospital of traditional Chinese medicine said that seven students had been admitted, but that none were seriously injured.
It is a well established fact that guns kill more people than knives, and far more easily, when both are available. A gun allows a person to shoot others from a safe distance, that is, a safe distance for the shooter. I often hear supporters of guns claim that just as many murders would happen in America if we had no guns. People would simply use knives. I don't believe that statement. Do you?
I do believe that we will continue to live in fear of gun violence, no matter how many guns we buy, or how many more places exist where we can lawfully take them, or how many more laws permit us to use them when we could otherwise run or drive away from dangerous situations where we feel threatened with harm or injury. And the longer we do not face up to this truth, as a nation, the longer we do not seek to change our insane gun culture, in which guns are glorified, fetishized and idolized, and their use against fellow human beings is seen as acceptable, even a "necessary evil," the worse this fear will become. It will consume us. Indeed, one could argue that it already has. And through the miasma of our collective fear, distrust, anger and paranoia more people will be tempted to use guns to "resolve" their problems, and more innocent people will suffer and die.
Just as the adult teachers and young school children died today at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT - in a hail of bullets.
I'm sure many will disagree with everything I've just said, or you may disagree with what others might say in the comments, but I ask that you do so in a civil manner. If you feel the urge to respond to an to what you consider an uncivil comment, resist it and let it go, even if you believe the other person's comment is wrong or offensive. To the best you can, engage in dialogue, rather than try to score debate points. That's what I am asking of those of you who choose to leave comments here.