As I passed my daughter’s elementary school, I realized I was stretching my neck to look for anything suspicious. It was a reflex action not present a week ago.
We’d all love a quick-fix solution to this horrible reality: “What’s to stop any madman from shooting up our own kid’s school today?” Sadly, no quick fix exists.
Calls for gun control flood the media — standard fare now with shooting tragedies. Yet, we know some of the places with the strictest gun laws have the worst gun violence. No law can fix such a complex and difficult problem. That isn’t to say we couldn’t be more sensible about gun policy. It’s hard to defend opposition to background checks and training course requirements for any gun purchaser. And why does someone really need a semi-automatic weapon capable of killing many people quickly?
But the truth is the guns the Newtown killer used were obtained legally and semi-automatic weapons are used in a tiny portion of murders each year. Blaming guns diverts attention away from more pressing concerns we should be discussing:
1- Citizen Action
If terrorism has taught us anything, it is that citizens must play a greater role in protecting themselves. We can’t always wait until police arrive. This educational video on mass shootings is a primer on being more aware and more prepared.
2- More Parental Responsibility
The Newtown shooter’s mother thought it was a good idea to take him target shooting. And she had six guns in the home of a troubled youth. This horrific judgment can’t be solved with a law. Parents also play a key role in shaping our culture. It needs some fixing.
3- Mental Health Infrastructure
What does a responsible parent do with a dangerous youth who is out of control and he/she has no place to turn? Jail is so often an end result. They are filled with mentally ill people. The offenders aren’t usually any better when they get out. What does society do with all the ticking time bombs who haven’t committed any crimes yet? How do we protect the individual rights of the disturbed with our own rights to security? This is the discussion that we should be having in our state capitals and in Washington.
4- Enlightened School Security
I don’t think an armed cop at every school door is either affordable or practical. After all, the Newtown shooter could have shot the cop, too. It may make sense to send a couple of school employees to extensive gun training and have them keep concealed weapons at the school. Their selection would be secret. Does this idea involved risk? Absolutely. But the harsh reality is, though there were brave acts, the adults at Sandy Hook Elementary failed to protect the kids in their care. The tragedy is not their fault, but being defenseless is not a strategy.
5 – Second Amendment Acceptance
More sensible gun policy has been hindered because gun advocates are skeptical of those who would deny them their second amendment right. The Second Amendment provides peace of mind to millions of law-abiding citizens who have every right to possess a firearm. The anti-gun advocates, and the politicians who pander to them, must back off. Simultaneously, the NRA has to play a more positive role in societal safety.
Like I said, no quick fix. But let’s get started.