Saturday, September 21, 2013

What To Do, What To Do?

In the aftermath of the Washington Navy Yard shootings we're being treated to another act of Kabuki theater. Similar to what happened after Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, Fort Hood, and other tragedies, the anti-gun crowd is clamoring for more gun control, and the pro-Second Amendment folks are responding with variations of "Guns don't kill people - People kill people."

Isn't it about time we go beyond those knee-jerk reactions and ask ourselves why 'people kill people' - especially in the context of mass murders?

Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post addressed that very issue in a recent column.
About 30 years ago as a young reporter in Florida, I was assigned a series on gun control in response to gun violence, which had peaked in the U.S. in 1980.

I began the series with profiles of three gun users, including a woman who had killed her would-be rapist, the owner of a sport shooting club and a convicted murderer on death row at the Florida State Prison in Starke.

Most dramatic was the woman, who was attacked as she entered her apartment after work one evening. She had just moved in and boxes were stacked floor-to-ceiling, nary a broom nor a pot to use in self-defense.

In her panic, she suddenly remembered the small derringer in her purse, which still hung over her shoulder. Already, the man had her pinned against the wall. Reaching into her bag, she grabbed the gun, pressed it to his side and, boom! He died instantly. To my question, she replied: “Hell, yes, I'd do it again in a New York minute.”

Or words to that effect.

Most chilling was the murderer, whose name I no longer recall. I do remember that his fingertips were oddly flared and he pressed them together, expanding and contracting his hands like a bellows. No doubt aware that I was nervous, he seemed amused by my questions.

“Sure,” he chuckled. “I'm all for gun control. Because that means you won't have a gun. And I will always have a gun.”
Score one for the Second Amendment supporters. I'd also argue that sentiment extends to gun-free zones, which by definition are target-rich environments for anyone deranged enough to embark on a slaughter of innocent strangers. They may be crazy, but they aren't stupid. How many mass murders have there been at NRA meetings, shooting ranges, or police stations?

Anyway, back to Parker's column:
All of which is to say, the conversation we're having today about how to avert the next act of gun violence is nothing new. Yet, we seem always to fall into the same pro-con template when a fresh shooting occurs.

It is easy to become cynical when there's nothing new to say and when, we know, nothing new will come of it. Gun control activists will push harder for tighter restrictions; Second Amendment champions will push back...

...the reflex to make tougher laws may be missing more important points. As my guy in Starke suggested, there's little comfort in forcing law-abiding citizens to submit to tighter controls knowing that criminals will not.

As for the crazies who go on killing sprees, rules don't apply.

Thus, what we're really fighting about in our national debate about guns is how to stop mentally ill people from wreaking havoc on society. And what are the causes that lead to the breakdowns that lead to the slaughter?
That's the $64,000 question. Unfortunately, it's a complicated and complex issue. There are no easy answers. And as a country, we're not very good at dealing with messy issues.

Is it the increasing violence in our popular culture? Is it a failure in our mental health system. Is it the breakdown of the traditional family? Are there other factors in play here?

IMO the answer is "All of the above."

So what can we do about it? That's a topic for another day. Right now I'm going to kick back and enjoy the weekend.

And continue to exercise my Second Amendment rights...


Old NFO said...

As always the real issue- How to stop someone bent on destruction who cares not a whit about laws is never addressed. All the laws in the world WON'T stop those folks.

CenTexTim said...

Yeah, that's what I don't understand about the antis. How can they not understand that?