Month: May 2016
A friend of mine recently posted a story about a simple experiment to prove conclusively that guns do not kill people. A common sense gun owner and hunter placed his hunting rifle with six rounds of live ammo out on his porch. He left the gun unattended all day. People walked by the house. The mailman delivered the mail. None of them were threatened. The gun did not even load itself. There was the indisputable proof that guns do not kill.
It was a stroke of genius. It got me thinking. Guns don’t kill people. They can’t kill people. Guns do not even load themselves. The guns that fired stray bullets that killed people watching television in their living rooms did not load themselves. The guns that children used to kill their playmates did not load themselves.
It’s true that there are an ungodly number of dead bodies. But we cannot blame the guns. They are not responsible for what their owners did. The guns are certainly not responsible for what their owner’s children did.
Sometimes loaded guns do strange things like former VP Dick Cheney’s shotgun and Plaxico Burress’ pistol. But the guns did not load themselves. It is not clear what caused Plaxico Burress’ pocket protector to fire the bullet that wounded him and got him sent to prison. But clearly somebody pulled the trigger when Dick Cheney’s shotgun fired a blast that nearly killed a hunting companion. That shotgun did not load itself and it did not discharge on its own.
Gun ownership is very safe. Take the case of Nancy Lanza, for example. She was a long-time gun enthusiast who owned dozens of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. She and her son would regularly go out to the shooting range together. It was a great hobby. It gave her time with her son who otherwise stayed holed up in the basement with his video games. She did not have a single problem from the time she started collecting guns until the day of her death. Not one of her guns loaded itself let alone killed or even threatened another human being.
When her son Adam shot her four times in the head, he had to load the .22 caliber rifle himself. He had to aim it and he had to pull the trigger each time the gun fired. The gun did not aid the young man in any way. Unfortunately, it did not protect Nancy from a violent attack either.
Adam Lanza did nothing wrong when he left home with his mother’s Bushmaster that morning. The Second Amendment of our constitution guaranteed him the right to bear arms. He was legally entitled to carry a long gun in Connecticut. The gun may even have belonged to him as his mother’s heir. As for the shooting of his mother, that was probably an act of temporary insanity. So he really had done nothing wrong as he headed out with enough ammunition to wipe out the population of an elementary school that morning.
Of course, the Bushmaster had not done a thing. It was kidnapped and pressed into service. It did not even have a microchip let alone the artificial intelligence to say, “Hell no! I won’t go!”
Don’t blame the gun.
It is not clear where the blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre lies. The Bushmaster fired the bullets that did the killing. But it was under the control of Adam Lanza who was out of control. You can’t really blame Adam Lanza, he probably had no idea what he was doing. For all we know, he was playing “Call of Duty: Black Ops XXX: Live Fire”.
Blaming Nancy Lanza would be like blaming Adam and Eve for the behavior of their adult son Cain. Out of control children are nothing new. Leopold and Loeb were raised in good families by good parents and yet they killed their cousin just to see if they could commit the perfect murder. Bonnie Parker’s letters to her mother about her relationship to Clyde Barrow make an interesting read.
But Nancy Lanza could have made more of an effort. She could have kept her Glock under her pillow a la James Bond and Oscar Pistorius, just in case. True, she did not feel threatened by her son. She believed that he was harmless. But how could she be sure he wouldn’t snap one day?
If Nancy Lanza had been prepared, if she had been up to it, she could have prevented the Sandy Hook Massacre before it even got started. All she had to do was shoot her own son before he shot her. But she seems to have been quite still when she was shot. She was probably sleeping. Even a Glock under her pillow would have been useless because guns do not shoot by themselves. But she could have at least made the effort.
There were other opportunities. Principal Dawn Hochsprung, school psychologist Mary Sherlach and Natalie Hammond came out of a faculty meeting when they heard Lanza shooting through a glass panel so he could bypass the locked entrance door. When the three women confronted Lanza in the hallway, they yelled “Shooter”.
If they had been properly prepared, they would have pulled their Glocks to the ready and cut Adam Lanza down on the spot. But they had been lulled into a false sense of security. There had not been a shooting incident in Sandy Hook for over a decade. The front door of their school was locked. There was no need to go into a faculty meeting fully armed like soldiers in a war zone. On the other hand, you never know when some American Hero is going to become tired of playing Call of Duty: Black Ops III on his Xbox and decide to go out for a live fire exercise.
If first grade substitute teacher, Lauren Rousseau, had known where to put her hands on a couple of Sigs, she and temp behavioral therapist, Rachel D’Avino, could have put up a fight instead of just mounting an unarmed stand against Lanza and his Bushmaster. But it seems that we as a society are just not ready to face the new normal. There are a lot of guns out there and we need to be ready to take decisive action always and everywhere. There can be no peace on earth until the blood thirst has run its course.
It is not clear what happened in Victoria Leigh Soto’s classroom. She might have survived if she had been able to back up her raw courage with a Glock or Sig.
We need to make sure that our teachers are properly equipped to protect themselves and their students. We are living in a war zone. It is no longer enough for our teachers to be skilled educators and mentors. They have to set an example by being soldiers. Their sidearms should be visible throughout the day.
There are, of course, some risks to this approach. Current protocol requires a teacher to call in an armed police officer to get a surly teenage girl physically ejected from her classroom. But an armed teacher would have a lot more negotiating power. There might be some temptation for an overworked teacher to use her gun to help her deal with an obnoxious, oversized, varsity athlete. That is a risk we must be prepared to live with.
We know that there are some bad eggs among the nation’s teachers. There are a few perps who will install hidden cameras in bathrooms and locker rooms. There are some who will play with naked youngsters in the showers. There are some who don’t know how to control themselves around a crowd of ripe, hormone driven adolescents. There is no way to predict how such teachers would behave if they were walking around armed. That is a risk we must be willing to live with.
The important thing is to remember that guns are necessary for protection. It is true that our guns will probably not protect us in the event of an ambush, or a crazy pilot who decides to commit suicide by crashing our plane into the side of a mountain, or a tsunami, or an encounter with a drunk/distracted driver, or other things too numerous to list. But they can provide a measure of protection is some situations. So we should all carry and be prepared to defend ourselves everywhere and all times. This is important. This could also be the answer to overpopulation. If enough of us make a habit of going around armed, eventually, the human population will be reduced to a comfortable level.