Before I start this piece, I would like to take a moment of silence, or space I guess, just to send my condolences to anyone affected by the shootings at the Newtown, CT, school. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children is a phrase used when a teenager dies in a car accident, but they really shouldn’t have to bury a five-year-old after something like this. Its just really tragic.
To debate gun control, their legality, and other gun-related issues simply takes away from the bigger picture here, 27 people are dead, including 20 children. No amount of senseless debate will take away from that. Needless to say, people will debate this point and people will crave to be educated at a time when so little is known about many details involving this situation.
Around the nation this morning, millions of people watching the tragic events of Newtown, Conn. will begin to clamor loudly for heightened gun control laws. “If there were better gun control laws, this would never happen,” is the one statement many, including my own friends will make. However, in no way, shape, or form would gun control laws have helped prevent this tragedy that took 26 innocent lives including 20 children.
The two states really involved in this, Connecticut and New Jersey (where the shooter’s brother lives), are listed as the 5th and 2nd highest. According to The Star-Ledger, Connecticut law has a partial ban on assault rifles and people under 21 are prohibited from purchasing and/or carrying handguns. The shooter, Adam Lanza, was 20.
Time and time again, people will continue to get their hands on whatever item they want if they so choose. Think about it, alcohol was illegal in the 1930 during prohibition yet it became one of the most crime ridden times in recent history. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug-related deaths have more than doubled since the early 80s, even with stricter drug abuse penalties.
“But if they just outlawed guns and had stricter laws, this could have been prevented.”
In 1996, as a direct result of the Dunblane school massacre, the United Kingdom banned the private ownership of handguns in the kingdom with two separate acts simply called “Firearms Act 1997 1 & 2.” However, despite those heavily enforced laws, the UK still has problems with school shootings. In June 2010, Derrick Bird, a lone gunman, killed 12 people and injured 11 others during a killing spree across Cumbria, England.
Did these extremely strict gun laws, which were put into place 13 years before the incident, help stop the violence? The answer to that question is no. You can have all the gun control you want, but people will find a way to get the items they need to commit heinous acts such as these.
I’ll speak for New Jersey (as I am a resident) and their gun control programs, listed as 2nd best in the country. In the Garden State, a rigorous six-month process is needed just to obtain a firearm purchase id. This background check occurs several times between state and local authorities, including a full criminal background. Even after getting the card, purchasing a weapon can take several weeks.
That explanation doesn’t even include special handgun purchase IDs, permit to carry and permit to conceal applications, which in total could take over a full year. With all the hurdles of current gun control there is one statement that rings true. You can’t test crazy or irresponsibility.
Admittedly, I’ve been shooting under the guidance of my father since I was seven years old. I’ve been through several NRA and Boy Scout programs that encourage safety and take many precautions. When taught right, target shooting (which I partake) is one of the safest activities. In my home, bullets and guns are never in the same place, guns are checked constantly for chambered rounds or loaded clips. These safety precautions are necessary in order to instill that no one is injured.
Just search “gun accidents” on YouTube and you’ll find a lengthy variety of gun accidents from people that aren’t being responsible. Holding a pistol one handed is going to hurt. Attempting to hold a rifle with one hand is just plain stupid. There’s no way to test for this sort of irresponsibility and carelessness.
Think about it from another point. Anyone with a driver’s license has gone through hours upon hours of driver safety and testing, yet, you still see people drive drunk and drivers speeding by on the highway at 110 miles per hour. Hell, we’ve all rolled through a stop sign at some point.
The main point is simply this: when people are careless or irresponsible, no amount of laws, ordinances, and guidance can help keep things like this from happening.
Regardless of your stance, 27 people have been taken from this Earth in what has become one of the biggest shooting massacres in U.S. history. No amount of debate will bring back those lives.
Prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy. May they rest in peace.
Photo Credit: Andorand