I am sympathetic with Ben Fordham’s call, in his 12/19 letter to the editor of The Citizen of Laconia (www.citizen.com), to “DO something“. We should do something that works. What we have been doing fails because it has been based on fantasy, not realism.
We have established “gun free zones” to protect children and others, but “gun free zones” only protect the killers and serve up unprotected victims.
Fordham apparently wonders why people want guns for protection since we have so much law enforcement, police, FBI, etc. If law enforcement is the answer, then why are there so many dead in Newtown? Newtown is evidence of the truth of the NRA claim, “when seconds count, the police are minutes away.”
There are gut wrenching questions about weapons, violence, crime, and evil that we don’t want to address (just like many people postpone writing wills and healthcare proxies, etc.) because the topic is discomforting. When something like Newtown happens, many politicians claim they are doing something by promoting good sounding, but ineffective remedies. If we want to save lives, we have to address these issues honestly and realistically.
First, no one advocates unrestricted access to guns (even criminals don’t want everyone to have guns, just them). Clearly some people have demonstrated by their actions that they are not responsible enough to have legal access to a gun, e.g., felons, the mentally ill.
Second. Gun laws don’t stop criminals from getting guns, they only keep law abiding people from being able to protect themselves. With more than 1 million people annually crossing our borders illegally and with hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of illegal drugs entering the country annually, it is a fantasy to believe that criminals won’t get and use guns no matter how strict our gun laws.
Also, cities and states with stricter gun laws generally have more violence and gun related crime than places with more lenient gun laws (where intended victims might be able to defend themselves). Even with its very strict gun laws, there are more people shot to death in Chicago every month than at Newtown.
Third. Despite Mayor Blumberg’s lies, other countries also have mass public killings. Norway, Scotland, Germany, and others where public mass killings occurred have strong nationwide anti-gun laws…ignored by killers.
Fourth. There is an upside to gun ownership, not just a downside. Besides being used for legal personal enjoyment, e.g., hunting and target shooting, guns are used dozens, perhaps hundreds of times a day to prevent law abiding people from becoming victims, often without firing a shot. (How does a 4’9” woman without a gun protect herself from a 6’5” attacker?) The media doesn’t consider these events newsworthy so it doesn’t report them.
Finally, we grieve for the families of the victims of this horrible crime in Newtown and for all crime victims. But, if we want to reduce the number of victims, we need to do things that work
To reduce crime our culture needs to condemn violence, respect life, and denigrate people who disregard the effects of their actions on others. We must not reward criminals with freedom or the fame they desire. Unfortunately, our culture does the opposite. (See my article in Tueday’s Citizen for a fuller discussion.)
Changing our culture will take lots of time and effort, and, perhaps most difficult, we have to decide that we want to change our culture.
Until we change our culture, we can live in a fantasyland where we believe that “gun free zone” signs and strict anti-gun laws will protect people, and then feel bad when we watch as children and adults continue to be killed. Or, we can do something that actually works. We can create an environment where criminals are deterred because their potential victim may successfully fight back. We can start immediately by repealing the counter-productive “gun free zone” law and let responsible, trained school staff be prepared to protect the children in their charge.