Gun Control and Tragedy

I’ve been quite reluctant to post about the recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Like many, I was horrified and disgusted that someone could murder children.  The fact that he started with his own mother denotes the level of mental instability at work here.

That being said, I find it discouraging that so many people are urging for stricter gun control.  I’ve overheard some people arguing that the government should just confiscate all the guns.  Frankly this is ridiculous.  But gun control of a serious nature is a real possibility considering the current state of the country and how people are feeling right now.

Tragedies like the one in Newtown are not the result of firearms, they are the result of psychosis.  I strongly believe that if this young man did not have access to firearms, we would have heard about a serial-stabbing, a bombing, or arson.  A sociopath who is unable to control his urge to hurt people is simply that – unable to control his urge to hurt people.  He is going to hurt people by any means available to him.

From what I’ve read, the weapon used was semi-automatic tactical sporting rifle –  .223-caliber Bushmaster AR-15 rifle.  It looks something like this:

LA Times 12/18

This weapon is certainly intimidating, but it is no more powerful or deadly than this rifle, the Browing BAR Mark II.

Both rifles shoot very similar rounds and are semi-automatic.  The first rifle is just styled differently, providing options for a mounted flashlight, laser, or other optics.

What I’ve seen people do is plaster up pictures of rifles that look like the first picture and cry about assault rifles.  They’re military-inspired with all the gadgets but at the end of the day are a fancy-looking hunting rifle that most people don’t even hunt with.  They just use it for target practice.  But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about here.

What I want to do is get at the heart of the issue.  Like a kitchen knife, a baseball bat, or even a pen, a firearm is a tool.  If I had a revolver and bullets, I could load the cylinder to capacity, close the cylinder, pull the hammer back and place it on the table in front of you.  All it would do is sit there.  It would sit there and rust.  It can only harm someone when a person decides to pick it up and hurt someone.  It’s really as simple as that.

Now I know that firearm management in a nation as large and diverse as our own is a complicated thing, but the fact remains that firearms are not at fault anymore than knives are to be blamed for stabbing people.  It is the people who use these tools.

I mourn for those families who lost a child.  Personally, I can’t imagine anything worse, but hindering the rights of law-abiding citizens is not going to stop someone from driving a bus into a school or placing a bomb in a busy shopping center.

As someone who grew up around firearms, owns firearms, and enjoys recreational shooting, my experience is likely different from many 20-somethings, especially in more urban areas, but that just means it’s my job to show those whose only experience of firearms is from Hollywood that guns are not inherently bad.  They are hunks of metal.

Personally, I don’t have it all worked out.  I don’t know how to fix these problems.  I just know that the world is not a place free of violence.  And if it’s possible (and I think it is), that someone suffering from a mental illness is compelled to harm me or my family, then I want the means with which to defend myself and my family.

We need to temper or reactionary nature and approach this problem of violence from a standpoint that aims at the core of the problem, not the means by which the consequences manifest themselves.

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4 Responses to Gun Control and Tragedy

  1. I have to disagree with you on this. The weapon that slayed those children was created for use in Vietnam. It’s only purpose it to kill quickly, repeatedly, and with maximum damage. Those bullets were made to expand and splinter inside the human body, to ensure that no one would survive its impact. If that weapon belongs in the world at all it belongs in the hands of experienced soldiers on a battlefield not in our homes or on our streets.

    Yes, a gun is a chunk of metal, harmless if unused. So are chemicals of mass destruction, so is toxic waste, so is a nuclear warhead. I don’t like any of these things, but at least their use is highly regulated or banned, limited or contained and illegal for common use–not likely to be found in homes or on the streets.

    If that young man had been armed with a knife, the principal and pshychoologist would likely have been able to disarm him with minumum injury. If he’d had a revolver, many of those dead children, shot as many as eleven times, would be alive today. If he’d set a fire, school fire alarms would have evacuated the school. If he’d had a bomb we’d be talking today about how to get explosives off the streets and out of our homes.

    I cannot see any reason for any person to own or use an assault weapon–not when it can fall into the hands of crazed individuals who can use it for quickly mowing down innocents, dozens at a time.

    We need to do something serious about prevently and treating mental diseases, helping those who can be helped, safely and humanely containing those who are a danger to society. We need to do more to end our national obsession with and glorification of violence. We need to protect our children from bullies and reach out to those children who withdraw from society or feel threatened by their peers. We need to learn to love one another. And in the meantime, we need to get assault weapons and ammunition off the streets and out of our homes.

    • Cody says:

      I understand where you’re coming from, but firearms are being unjustly demonized. The rifle used by Adam Lanza was a sport hunting rifle, capable of doing no more damage than any other semi-automatic hunting rifle. Just because it has a picatinny rail mount and an adjustable stock does not make it an “assault rifle,” This weapon was not designed to “mow down” innocents. It was designed to take game and to enjoy target shooting. Keep in mind this weapon is semi-automatic, not fully automatic, meaning that the trigger must be pulled each time a bullet is fired. This is not an automatic machine gun.

      “Assault Weapon” is a problematic term to begin with. It has no clear definition and is mainly used by the media to carry a certain connotation when they refer to certain styles of weapons. If you’re thinking of rifles that has full-auto, burst, and semi-auto capabilities, then I could understand the term “assault rifle,” although “combat rifle” might be a more accurate term. The guns we’re talking about do NOT have those capabilities. It’s as simple as that.

      I whole-heartily agree that we need to do something about this problem, but is disarming law-abiding citizens the answer? If someone were to break into my home with any kind of firearm, I want to be equally armed. As the saying goes, “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

      • At least we agree something needs to be done about the problem. I don’t think we’ll be able to agree about the rest–but at least we tried :-)

      • Cody says:

        Yes. Fair enough. I suppose our respective opinions regarding guns can at least partially be chalked up to our own life experiences. I think I’m going to write a follow-up post where I can respond to some of the issues you brought up in greater detail and provide some more information. As always, Deborah, thanks for being a mindful reader.

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