SAN DIEGO, December 20, 2012 — Nothing can adequately explain the horror of 20 children and six adults killed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was every parent’s worst nightmare, and it left a shocked country seeking answers and guarantees against future violence. It must be possible to prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening again, mustn’t it?
Every solution but the kitchen sink has been floated, from the obvious demands for gun control to calls for improvements to mental health care delivery.
One of the earliest voices came from President Obama himself on the day of the tragedy: “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
Nothing sounds more political than a politician telling us it is time to leave politics behind. Obama’s record reveals an interesting definition of nonpolitical bipartisanship: If Republicans would do things exactly his way, then at long last the country could benefit from two parties “working together.”
Obama’s comments were obvious code for expanded gun control laws, which must be enacted whether Republicans like it or not.
After Obama dropped his hints, Senator Dianne Feinstein spoke more clearly. “I’m going to introduce in the Senate, and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons,” she explained on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Then Obama weighed in again with a Wednesday press conference, eliminating all speculation about what he meant in his first speech: He’s tasked Vice President Joe Biden to lead an interagency task force to produce “concrete proposals” that will end the plague of gun violence. Those proposals will include an assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines. He expects the task force’s proposals by the end of January, and he will press Congress to vote on a bill “without delay.”
“This time, the words need to lead to action … The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence,” he said.
Knee jerk demands for gun control always sound soothing until we realize that gun restrictions will only limit the number of weapons law abiding citizens are allowed to carry under the protection of the Second Amendment.
Picture, if you will, some would-be assassin contemplating a new mass shooting. “I want to commit mass murder in cold blood, but heck, the kind of weapon I wanted to use is against the law. I must obey the law, so I guess the murder is off.”
Questions about mental health and better treatment make more sense than gun control discussion. Early reports are that Newtown killer Adam Lanza was autistic and had grown increasingly withdrawn. Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, a Georgetown University Medical psychologist, says, “We wait for things like this to happen and then everyone talks about mental health.”
But this explanation warrants caution. If Lanza had not killed himself, undoubtedly some lawyer would be trying to get him off by insisting the man was not responsible for his own actions. And yet, inasmuch as Lanza took his own life, we can assume he knew exactly what he was doing and chose not to be held accountable.
A simpler explanation is rejected by far too many: Perhaps Adam Lanza committed evil because he was evil. Try explaining that to a culture which embraces moral relativism and rejects the kind of God who would send people to hell. Maybe we have been too quick to dismiss the obvious.
Lanza is not the first killer to “escape justice.” Adolf Hitler managed to avoid capture and accountability from the Allies by taking a cyanide capsule. Supposing his next conscious moment was the judgment seat of God where he answered for his crimes and eventually paid in hell forever? All at once, hell looks like less of a horrible doctrine and more of a comfort. It provides a sense of justice sadly lacking from anti-gun bills and psychological explanations. It would be nice to live in a world without evil. Since we don’t, let us at least call evil for what it is and put our hope in a God who deals with it.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Bob sometimes selects reader’s comments and responds to them on his radio show. Details of his program can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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