Reacting to Violence in the Wake of the Newtown Massacre [OPINION]
It is impossible to put into words the sorrow I feel about the heinous act committed in Newtown, Conn. If there's one place we want to feel our children are safe, it is in school. Couple that with the fact that this was an elementary school and it is next to impossible to wrap my mind around it. 26 people lost their lives and nobody will ever be able to make sense of it.
Naturally, our first inclination, after asking why, is to look for ways to prevent this from ever happening again. That's just human nature. The calls for action come from all sides at a time when we are at our most emotional. While I agree there is a problem and it should be addressed, I'm not sure society is going about it the right way at this time.
Don't believe the statistics you read on the web. If you think they're all true, Jim Jones has a glass of Kool-aid for you. On the internet, there are cries from both sides of the gun control issue for action. Anti-gun people want more, stricter gun laws enacted while pro-gun people want to lift restrictions on where citizens are allowed to carry firearms. I don't think either is the real solution. There is no quick fix to this. Gun control (either more or less of it) would be nothing more than a knee jerk reaction designed to make people feel better. That doesn't address the real issues at hand. Everything on the subject that is currently on social media sites should be ignored. People that DO debate the topic in the future should be educated in firearms and have informed opinions.
The media is partly to blame for bringing in the gun control debate at a time when we should be focused on helping those that lost loved ones in this tragedy. It is a hot button topic anyway and media outlets race for ratings and interactions. As I watched Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Joe Lieberman (Senator for Conn.) was the first guest. He proposed a federal commission on mass violence be formed. Not a bad thought. While some might think that is just more useless activity from the government, I lack faith in our elected officials' ability to keep politics out of the equation. Changes CAN happen from commissions, but will they be partisan politics as usual or will they actually be for the good of the country? Gun control was a small part of what Senator Lieberman proposed be discussed.
Then came Dick Durban (Senator for Ill.) Again, the topic of gun control, I cringed at his use of the word "clip". He too mentioned having a real discussion about mass violence beyond gun control, but his misuse of certain terms made his statements lack credibility for me.
Chris Wallace, the host/moderator of Fox News Sunday, asked some questions and put out some facts about guns. He mentioned that a semi-automatic rifle was used and that the murderer had two semi-automatic handguns. Then he brought up that these weapons were initially designed for military use. He mentioned that the rifle used was an assault weapon. This isn't so. It LOOKS like an assault weapon, but in order to fit the definition, it must have selective fire. The military grade M-16 has safe/semi/burst selections. The civilian model (AR-15) has safe/semi on the selector switch. You cannot select the actual firing mode.
Vilifying the firearms doesn't do anyone any good. It inflames the discussion rather than encourage civil discourse. I invite Mr. Wallace to attend a class in firearms here in Missouri. I'll even pay the class fees so he can see first hand the difference in nomenclature of various firearms and fire each. With all of that said, I don't really think more guns are the immediate answer either.
I'm very much pro conceal and carry. I have my permit. I see the outcry to arm everyone and take away the gun free zones. I've always thought it silly to tell someone they can carry a gun, but not in certain areas. However, along with a person's decision to carry a gun comes responsibility. If you're thinking a gun on your person will give you added sense of security, get a blanket. If you choose to carry, learn how to use your gun properly. Where is the best point of carry for your most comfortable draw? When you're in a crowd and something starts, where will you aim to avoid casualties behind your target? You'll need to practice. That's both dry fire and hitting the range. You carry deadly force when you carry a gun. It is incumbent upon each person with a permit to make sure they will be a help in a bad situation, not become part of the problem. I really don't think just arming teachers will make all of that happen.
I won't claim to have all of the long term answers. I just know that we need to let our emotions calm before policy can be made or opined over. That goes for both sides. In the short term, increased law enforcement presence on school campuses is a good idea. Increasing awareness of who belongs and who doesn't along with increased vigilance will help too. But let's put our priorities on helping and supporting the grief stricken. We can scream at each other later.
I now invite your thoughts. Comment below and please share this with others.