MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., December 18, 2012 — A young man in his early twenties shot and killed 26 persons, 20 six and seven year-old children among them, at an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut. He also shot his mother in their home and when done with it all, committed suicide.
If you are keeping count, this is the second such episode last week. A gunman in Oregon killed two persons on Tuesday December 11, 2012.
While we are still sorting through the news, there appears to be some facts that contributed to these mass killings. Regardless of the evidence that will be unearthed in the days and months ahead, there are some facts that are irrefutable.
We are a violent society (sorry for stating the obvious)
Other countries in the world have gun laws similar to our own. Northern European countries depend on a reserve force in case of national emergencies. For that purpose, every able male has to serve in this force, learn how to use firearms and keep firearms at home in case he is called.
Violent crime and specifically murder by firearms in those countries is a very small percentage of what it is in the US.
There is no other country in the industrialized world that has the rate of crime that we have. We also have very strict laws, as demonstrated by our having the highest rate of incarceration (1% of the population). We also are the leading country with regard to people being executed for their crimes. Based on these contradictory statistics, there appears to be no direct correlation between punishment and its deterrence of crime. The perpetrators of mass murder crimes are obviously not influenced by threats punishment as they usually take their lives after their massacre.
Some would point out that violence in video games, movies and television may be one of the reasons for the violence; however, the same elements exist all over the world. Others have speculated that our individualistic culture may provide a reason for discrete actions of this type.
Even others have pointed out that the disregard of traditional values has led us into a lawless society in which there are no limits to antisocial behavior. Other countries have also taken actions that disregard traditional values, including religion, without the same results.
Mental and emotional reasons have in the past proven to be the trigger that started some of these episodes, and preliminary information suggests it may the case in Sandy Hook. Ironically, our health insurance system is geared to treat mental health as a much lower priority.
Firearms are readily available in the US. More difficult to acquire in Connecticut than say Colorado, it is not unusual for a person, any American, to divulge that they own a gun. And most do so with reasonable responsibility.
We are simply the most armed country in the world. We own over one hundred million firearms and it is often easier to get a gun in this country than to buy a car or adopt a dog. While most states have restrictions, waiting periods and identification requirements on who can buy a gun, the ready availability on firearms on the black market defeats these restrictions.
Many gun owners keep their guns locked up, but this is not always deterrent to a thief or even a child.
I knew a man that owned many guns. He was a hunter, but overall he was just fascinated with guns. One day he came home and realized he had been robbed. He immediately looked at his gun locker and found it still locked. Several weeks later when he was going hunting he opened the locker and found it empty.
The thieves had removed the back panel of the locker and removed all the guns.
Apparently the guns used to kill those 20 children, 7 adults and the killer belonged to the shooter’s mother. Why would a person need four firearms with such killing power? And, if she knew her son had mental problems, why would she allow him, unknowingly or purposely, to have them? Taking him to the range, teaching him how to use them.
So what do you expect? Hundreds of millions of guns ready for the taking are sprinkled across our country so why do we expect a different end result?
With the easy availability of guns, it is easy for a criminal, or someone who is delusional, like the shooter in Aurora, Colorado or Newtown, Connecticut, to acquire one legally, or otherwise.
There is one thing that we can do to curtail these mass killings. We can put more emphasis in the things that we can change, like increasing the importance of mental health care and putting limits in the number, and type, of guns that our citizens can have.
Every time I start thinking about buying a gun, I revert back to what the purpose, and the only purpose, of a gun is and that is to kill or maim.
And that is not a good reason to have one.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, a pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist. http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/21st-century-pacifist at The Washington Times Communities.
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- The Scottish Premier Soccer League observes a moment of silence for Sandy Hook
- Members of the Sikh community hold a candlelight vigil outside Newtown High School before an interfaith vigil with President Barack Obama, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
- A woman puts a photo of a Jack Pinto, age 6, on a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., as the town mourns victims killed in a school shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
- Patriot actors stand without their usual rifles to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., in the third quarter of an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
- Attendees release paper lanterns during a vigil for victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Omaha Neb. (AP Photo/The Omaha World-Herald, Rebecca S. Gratz)
- Flag at half staff outside the American Embassy in London
- The Kansas City Chiefs mourn the loss at Sandy Hook
- NFL Helmets with remembrance stickers
- Names of victims hang on a U.S. flag on a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., as the town mourns victims killed in a school shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
- An American Flag at half mast in Helinski, Finland
- Children in Pakistan react to the massacre at Sandy Hook
- A woman puts a photo of a child on a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., as the town mourns victims killed in a school shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
- Attendees release paper lanterns during a vigil for victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Omaha Neb. A gunman walked into the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/The Omaha World-Herald, Rebecca S. Gratz) MAGS OUT; ALL NEBRASKA LOCAL BROADCAST, TV OUT.
- Names of victims hang on a U.S. flag on a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., as the town mourns victims killed in a school shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Authorities say a gunman killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before taking his own life, on Friday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
- Crosses on the beach in Rio de Janeiro
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