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Gun Violence is Larger Than Legislation

Sandy Hook Elementary as of December 14, 2012, has become a place of incomprehensible tragedy. The pain and the scars have run so deep that there is now talk of demolishing the elementary school where 20 children and six adults were shot and murdered by gunman Adam Lanza. There are no words that can ever possibly express or make understood the things felt in that town that would bring people to such extremes as destroying a building because the memories are simply too painful to bare.

Prevention of similar future tragedies has become a major national concern. The debate has quickly and sadly become diminished as only fuel for both sides of a long-standing debate on gun-control in America.

One side of the argument is that more control over guns would mean less access to firearms for people with possible ill-intentions. The other side says that crazed homicidal people will or at least could, obtain fire arms regardless of control and the best way to stop them is to have non crazed people with guns to shoot back.

The fact that the argument even exists and, especially that it is potentially so important and so relevant is hard to make sense of. It’s understandable that certain things could have opposing sides but, why everything that needs voting on in congress? In exchange of an oppositional argument, I offer this alternative perspective.

Although there is some debate as to whether or not mass shootings are actually on the rise, an article from Citizens Crime Commission entitled “Mass Shooting Incidents in America (1984-2012)” outlines 30 shootings that haven taken place between 1984 and 2012 and, whether that constitutes “epidemic” proportions or not is irrelevant as to whether or not it constitutes action. These mass shootings are indicative of unidentified conditions within our world, society, and culture that as of yet, for unknown reasons, promote homicidal and suicidal behavior and, tendencies within some members of our communities.

Homicidal, as well as, suicidal ideation and behavior are not things we as humans are entirely unfamiliar with dealing with. In fact hospitals and mental health facilities alike have protocol for just such cases. An article entitled “Managing Suicide Attempts: Guidelines for the Primary Care Physician” from the U.S. National Library of Medicine states about dealing with a patient who is exhibiting suicidal behavior or ideation, “All sharp objects, belts, drugs, and medical equipment should be isolated from the patient.” Due to the patients unstable and unpredictable state the protocol requires removing the patient’s access to things that could allow them to potentially harm themselves or others. Often these protocols go so far as removing the patient’s shoe-laces. For the sake of this argument it is important to note however that limiting the patient’s access to objects that could be harmful doesn’t ultimately solve the underlying issues creating the behaviors and is only a preventative measure while the underlying issues are treated.

Comparing the United States to a mental patient may seem a little far-fetched and obviously the complexities of national and social concerns would likely far surpass those of an individual but, that doesn’t mean the underlying principles of dealing with the same life-threating behavior would be much different. Simply stated, removing the ease of access to harmful or, potentially harmful objects (fire-arms), no matter if intent is self-inflicted or otherwise, doesn’t remove the desire to do so, the desire to do so ultimately being the real problem.

The gun-debate in its entirety seems to allow us some lens to look through while we witness and attempt to understand these incomprehensible tragedies. However, it’s important to recognize that although it is important to decide whether or not to take away the patients shoe-laces, limiting access to potentially harmful objects is only the tip of the iceberg of much larger, systemic issues.

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4 Comments »

  1. In a hospital you can remove all of the dangerous items from the people we are able to identify as potentially dangerous. But it is irrational to suggest we remove all these dangerous items from the entire population. You can’t remove all the dangerous items from the entire country for the few people in the 300,000,000 that are dangerous but not identified. The population needs knives, belts, shoelaces, guns, et. al.

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  2. The reason for the possible increase is very well understood by those willing to look at the actual situation instead of jumping on a political bandwagon that won’t solve the problem. The school killers usually have one thing in common, they have studied and dwelt on the prior students. They clearly reveled and sought the fame those events produced in the culture for the killers. For the first time they see a path to relevancy.

    If you want to do something effective then stop making the killers, their lives and their grievances super start famous.

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  3. Mothers kill their children almost as frequently as mass shootings happen; what would the reaction be if we suggested that all children should be removed from their mother’s custody — only to prevent murder of course?

    You know what it would be — outrage and a firestorm.
    Yet, you propose to remove property from people who have done no wrong, broken no laws, shown no signs of mental illness because some people have. It doesn’t make sense at all.

    no matter if intent is self-inflicted or otherwise, doesn’t remove the desire to do so, the desire to do so ultimately being the real problem.

    That is the problem with ‘gun control’ laws — they don’t address the nature of the act, the desire to commit it. They try to say “We’ll be safer if no one can get guns” — which completely ignores such horrendous events as the 911 World Trade Center — those planes were taken over with box cutters. Such events as the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building; where 19 children died because a murderer used diesel fuel and fertilizer. Such as the Bath Township School Massacre — where the murderer used dynamite to kill 30 children and 6 adults.

    and, whether that constitutes “epidemic” proportions or not is irrelevant as to whether or not it constitutes action.

    Lastly and most importantly is the fact you don’t address the idea that not all actions, even if well intentioned, are legal. The Constitution expressly limits the power of the government so that it can not enact oppressive laws. How could any law designed to treat every gun owner as if they were mentally ill be constitutional?
    Especially in light of the Heller and McDonald Decisions?

    Bob S.

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