Thursday, October 12, 2006

Everybody's Wrong About Guns

The handwringing had to happen sooner or later.

Three lethal school shootings in a single week. Seven innocents dead, including five little girls in an Amish schoolhouse. Several more incidents around the country of children bringing guns to school, the latest a seventh- grader who brought and fired an assault weapon in his Missouri school on Monday...That is the reality of unfettered gun access in America ~Maureen Downey, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Handwringing comes in all forms but school shootings seem to elicit the most extreme twisting of the fingers. Children in danger triggers our most visceral instincts of fight or flight.

First observation would lead you to believe the political reactions to our most sensational gun crimes are starkly different. In Columbine, the censors and book burners blamed everything from Marilyn Manson to Playstation. The anti-gun left blamed a society obsessed with firearms and a refusal to pass stronger gun regulation. Both ignore the ostracism and possible mental disturbance that led to that awful day.

The two sides have more in common than they would ever admit. Both use extreme tragedy to foster extreme solutions that will have little effect on future tragedies. It is as if both stumble around a dark basement stubbing their toes and then one advocates the elimination of all sharp corners, the other advocates the amputation of toes while both ignore the flashlight with dead batteries in their own hand.

Despite Ms. Downey's claim, gun ownership in this country is far from unfettered. Handguns, by far the source of most violent crime, and in certain cases long guns are licensed, subject to background check and, depending on the state, subject to a waiting period. Reasonable regulations that allow gun ownership while preventing easy access to those that would do harm.

However, the fact that cannot be ignored is no amount of fettering guns would have prevented the tragedies of Columbine or Pennsylvania. If family, friends and society continually refuse to see signs of potential violence there will never be a waiting period long enough to prevent tragedy.

Maybe the path towards a solution starts with both sides attacking the roots that cause people to shoot up classrooms instead of continuing to grasp at karmic band-aids that might make us feel better but never really make us safer.

Cross posted at Radical Georgia Moderate

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that the most underreported crime metric in our culture is the thwarting of a serious crime through the usage or brandishing of a firearm.

Really though, there are too many people on this planet. You can't go around getting too upset about a few here and a few there.