Let's Have a National Discussion, but Let's be Honest
Gun control legislation, or talk about it, is making its way across the nation. As expected, opportunists and hypocrites in Congress (and there are lots of them) are scrambling over each other to be first in line to share in the afterglow of the horrific tragedy that took place last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.
Take Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY), for example. In an article for today's American Thinker, Tom Thurlow points out that Schumer has a conceal carry permit and armed guards for protection. Even so, Schumer referred to the Newtown massacre as a "tipping point" where we might actually get something done [on gun control legislation]:
He said politicians and the American public might have an appetite for a debate on gun control because mass shootings are becoming "a new normal" and because Friday's incident, where 27 people were killed, "involved children."
That's what scares me. We might get something done, but it will be the wrong thing. Thankfully, Schumer admitted that there are two sides to the gun control issue. That's something that many Democrats in Congress don't realize. In their world, private gun ownership by ordinary citizens is the problem, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution be damned.
Proving once again that he won't let a crisis go to waste, President Obama promised to make reducing gun violence a high priority in his second term:
The White House said curbing gun violence was a "complex" problem that required a comprehensive solution.
On Sunday Mr. Obama told Newtown residents he would do everything in his power to prevent further tragedies.
I wish the president had talked about violence in our country in its many forms, but that's all it is -- wishful thinking. Even more disconcerting, the president failed to mention that gun violence is on the decline:
Murders of school-age children-those between the ages of 5 and 18-declined by 42 percent between the 1992-93 school year and the 2008-2009 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and only about 1 percent of the school age children murdered during the 2008-2009 school year were murdered at school.
Our president has a habit of being late and ill-informed. Those are qualities that we don't want or need in a president, but we knew those things about Barack Obama before we re-elected him.
Filling the factual void, Thomas Sowell had this to say,
Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates?
The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.
If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.
Jeffrey Goldberg identified other facts that need to be considered:
According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 47 percent of American adults keep at least one gun at home or on their property, and many of these gun owners are absolutists opposed to any government regulation of firearms. According to the same poll, only 26 percent of Americans support a ban on handguns.
To that 26 percent, American gun culture can seem utterly inexplicable, its very existence dispiriting....
There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America-many legally owned, many not. Each year, more than 4 million new guns enter the market. This level of gun saturation has occurred not because the anti-gun lobby has been consistently outflanked by its adversaries in the National Rifle Association, though it has been. The NRA is quite obviously a powerful organization, but like many effective pressure groups, it is powerful in good part because so many Americans are predisposed to agree with its basic message.
So far in the U.S., the role of entertainment titans in provoking the kind of violence that the president wants to reduce has been all but ignored. Even so, Omer Lachmanovitch, an Israeli, raised the issue, and it may attract lots of attention here before this ordeal is behind us:
Shows like "Dexter" and "Natural Born Killers" or the 1971 film "A Clockwork Orange" are not what created the basis for the murderous madness of Adam Lanza, who coldheartedly gunned down his own mother and then 26 children and adults at an elementary school in Connecticut on Friday. Films and television shows are not created in a vacuum. They arise from an apathetic and technological society that has turned murderers into cultural heroes.
Murderers become cultural heroes because they are read about, watched on television, and then emulated. Denying the role of entertainment and entertainment masquerading as news in the process of calcifying the conscience of our nation is foolish and, as we should have learned by now, dangerous.
And let's not forget about mental disorders and the drugs used to treat them. They play a crucial part in the problem and not just in the U.S. as the Chinese know all too well:
In a very rare coincidence, the troubles that wrecked havoc in the United States had also begun occurring in China which brings into fore the dangers of mental instability leading to violence.
As the United States mourn and investigate what could have triggered the mass murder of 20 innocent children and 8 adults, in China, knife-wielding individuals had been caught on more than two occasions causing harm on school children, teachers and an elderly civilian.
China's state-run news agency Xinhua said in a report that a 35-year-old-man suddenly went on a stabbing rampage on Friday, inflicting cuts and bruises on 23 residents--22 of which are students aged 8 to 12 years old on their way to school.
Our country is on a slippery slope to moral depravity, and it's been heading downhill for a very long time. It's foolish to focus all of our attention guns and gun ownership thinking that we can undo decades of damage by removing a tool that's used primarily for recreation and self-defense. As one astute observer pointed out, I don't know who, "In any massacre, the law-abiding are violated twice: the dead by the psychos who kill them and the living by the politicians who try to disarm them for the next psycho."
So let's get on with the national discussion, but let's be honest about the problem. Anything short of that will lead to no good.
Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.