WHY?

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I am from Connecticut and most of my family still lives there.  I was at work when news of the school shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut broke and I was immediately horrified.  I have two nephews who go to elementary school in Connecticut and it wasn’t until I read the breaking news story that I saw the name of the town it happened in and I realized they were safe.  I was still horrified at the story though because even though my family was safe, there were many other families that day that weren’t going to be as lucky.  By the end of the day, we learned that 20 children, 6 teachers and the shooter’s own mother were all dead in yet another instance of senseless violence in our country.

The events of that day made me ask myself some questions – Why do events like the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut keep happening in the “greatest” country on Earth?  What can be done to prevent something like this from happening again in the future?  How can we make schools, theaters and churches safe refuges again?  Who is to blame?

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There are no easy answers to any of those questions and the answers would be different depending on who you ask.

Is more gun control the answer?  Not really, because evil exists and will find a way.  However, more gun control would limit the amount of damage someone can do.  I’ve never understood why semi-automatic weapons like the one used in Newton, CT are allowed to be owned by the general public.  I grew up in a family of hunters and am a firm believer in the Constitution and I don’t believe the government should take away anyone’s right to own a gun, but I don’t believe you need a gun that can fire hundreds of rounds per second to protect your family or hunt.  If you need that kind of weapon to protect your family, move somewhere else.  If you’re hunting with that kind of weapon, is there any meat left on the animal?  In my opinion, a real hunter uses a bow-and-arrow, not a gun.  If you can’t kill an animal with a bow-and-arrow you’re not really hunting, you’re simply killing.  I don’t have anything against hunters at all, like I said, I grew up in a family full of them and understand that keeping deer population under control for example sometimes has to be done.

I do think that you shouldn’t need to own more than two guns – one for home/personal protection and one to hunt (if you so choose).  Anything more than that is unnecessary.  As for the types of guns, you shouldn’t need to own anything more than a six-shooter.  If you can’t stop a home invader with six shots, you need more practice on the range or need to move.  While some parts of this country are more dangerous than others, it’s not like we live in Syria or Iraq where there are armies running through the streets breaking into houses, raping and killing people that you need to protect yourself against.  When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and especially the Second Amendment, they were mainly trying to ensure that no government would be able to come in and take control of its citizenry without the citizens being able to fight back. You also have to remember, that at the time they wrote that Amendment, all you had available to you for guns, were single-load muskets, that took quite awhile to reload.  I’m really sure they never counted on magazines that hold 30 bullets each and weapons that can fire hundreds of rounds a second.  I’m sure if they knew the leaps and bounds gun technology would take over the next 225 years, they might have made it more limiting in nature.  A mass killing in the time of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington only happened when an invading army took over a town, it was never one single person with one gun killing 20 people.  I’ve still never heard a good reason why any civilian would need a semi-automatic rifle – and no, I’m not counting the whack-jobs that believe they need to stockplie weapons for the day the “government will come to get them.”

Some people think that if people in the theater in Aurora, Colorado were allowed to carry their guns with them, the shooter would’ve been killed by someone before doing any serious damage.  I seriously doubt this.  I just don’t believe that in a dark theater, filled with tear gas and running/screaming people, that only the shooter would have been shot by the theater goers.  Police and military are trained for those kind of “close quarter”, intense situations and even they can have a hard time only hitting the shooter.  Joe Schmoe who goes to a firing range once a week is not trained to handle a situation like that and the death toll might have still been just as high – especially if there were many people all carrying concealed weapons in the theater.newtown2

Yes criminals will always have access to things that are illegal, so making semi-automatic rifles illegal won’t keep them off the streets.  However, it’s not gang members going into theaters or schools shooting up the place – it’s normal people that simply have the guns at home or easy access to them.  Let the police deal with the semi-automatic armed gangs and if you believe you need to protect yourself from those kind of people, may I suggest, once again, to move somewhere else?

The culture of violence in this country does play a part in these incidents.  I do believe we live in a country where violence is glorified – whether it’s music, movies, video games, television shows, or sports like the NFL and MMA – violence is glorified.  I don’t believe that those types of violence cause violence, however, I do belive it desensitizes us to its effects.  The media in our country doesn’t help when they plaster these stories over the airwaves and in print for days on ends and constantly mention the killer’s name making the killer famous.  I was pleased to see that following the event in Newtown, CT most media seemed to focus on the names of the victims instead of the name of the killer.

Don’t get me wrong, not everyone who owns a semi-automatic weapon is going to go on a shooting spree.  The type of person that does that, generally has something mentally wrong with them – they may be mentally unstable, they may be from an abusive home or simply  have been bullied one too many times and have simply reached their limit.  While a mental illness or simply having a rough life is no excuse, it has to be accounted for.  There has been a massive push since Columbine in regards to the bullying our children face in this country and the explosion of social media sites like Facebook has made the problem worse, it comes down to teachers and parents to try to teach the children the effects of bullying at a young age, so when they grow up they don’t bully someone else simply because they are different.

The way we treat people in this country with mental illness is deplorable.  While it is leaps and bounds better than it was 50 years ago, we still have a lot of work to do.  Access to medical and psychological assistance has to be available to everyone.  Many of these men who have committed these crimes have shown signs of “something being wrong with them” since they were kids – they simply didn’t wake up one day and decide to kill their classmates.  Identifying and treating mental illness early in life may just help this country become safer.

I do believe that the two biggest groups of people in this country that are responsible for these types of events are the politicians and organizations like the NRA.  The NRA won’t be happy until every single American is allowed to conceal carry a semi-automatic assault rifle with four 30-round clips in their belt and they will ensure that any politician that disagrees with them doesn’t serve another term in office.  I blame the politicians for allowing lobbyist groups such as the NRA and others to over time build the kind of power that prevents any politician from even mentioning “gun control” during any campaign in fear that the NRA will come after them.  After every tragic mass shooting, the goverment says “they are going to push for stricter gun legislation” but after a couple of weeks or once the NRA releases a statement, that kind of talk from the politicians come to a screeching halt.newtownnra

While my thoughts don’t cover every angle of gun control in this country and you may not agree with me on any of my ideas, I do believe that any itelligent person has to realize that there is something drastically wrong in our country when these events are allowed to continue to happen.

Just as 9/11 drastically changed forever airport security in our country, I do hope that the deaths of 20 children and 6 teachers will lead to the type of gun control measures that will make our churches, theaters, office buildings and schools safe places once again.  Let’s not let those 26 innocent people’s deaths be just another blurb in the gun control discussion in this country – let their deaths be used for actual and long lasting change.  We live in the greatest country in the history of the world, yet we have more gun-related deaths than almost every single other country in the world – we should be the example other countries follow and not just another nightly spot on their news broadcasts as an example of “Why America is a Dangerous Place to Live.”

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