Can Gun Violence Be Controlled?
No simple solution to a complicated problem
By Randy FaucheuxPosted Jan 2, 2013
Like most Americans, I was fairly devastated by the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. I was perhaps even a bit more affected by the news than most, having grown up only 30 minutes away from Newtown, in the small town of New Fairfield, Conn. When I read that the victims were treated at Danbury Hospital, the same hospital where I had my tonsils removed at the age of 6, I was unable to hold back the tears. The whole thing hit way too close to home with me, as I so closely associate that area of southwestern Connecticut with my own childhood.
So much was going through my head that day in regard to the shooting that I couldn’t even adequately process the information. But one thing I never even considered was the gun control policy of our country, until I read a news article about a protest in favor of gun control that was planned on that same day in front of the White House. My first thought was how insensitive it was for anyone to do anything drawing attention away from the grieving families and friends of the victims. At least give it a few more days, I thought. Now isn’t the time to engage in this debate. But if that wasn’t the proper time for such a debate, when would be the proper time?
So here we are, nearly three weeks later, and the debate is raging in full force. The rhetoric on the pro-gun control side calls for some kind of reform in gun control legislation, without offering any concrete solutions, while the rhetoric on the anti-gun control side (particularly from the NRA) pretty much defies logic altogether. Increasing the presence of guns in schools and other public areas in order to reduce the amount of gun violence? Staffing armed security guards at every school in the nation in order to make people feel safer? I have a hard time understanding how more guns equals less gun violence. At a news conference one week after the shooting, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, declared, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” While this makes a great sound byte for gun enthusiasts, it reduces a serious debate to childishly naïve inanity. Perhaps he was pandering to young children, whose under-developed minds still process grave conflicts in over-simplistic terms, such as “good guys” and “bad guys.” But the world is more complicated than LaPierre’s black-and-white statement suggests, and to address this issue in such a way is insulting not only to those who lost loved ones in the shooting, but to any American with the capacity for abstract thought.
LaPierre was referring to the suggestion of a federal government mandate that would allocate funds to place armed police officers at every school in the country. But this idea is only practical in a binary world in which clear distinctions between “bad guys” and “good guys” exist. Can the parents of this nation fully trust that their children’s armed protectors are “good guys,” without any predilection for unnecessary violence or mental instability? Just playing by the odds, with the number of armed security guards required to patrol every school in the nation, it’s a pretty safe bet that at least one or two of them would be a little more “bad” than “good.”
So what is the solution to the problem of increasing gun violence in public places in our country? Unlike Mr. LaPierre, I have no simple solution to offer. Statistics show that serious injuries or deaths from guns are significantly more likely in places where a gun is present, even if the gun was legally obtained and safely stored. But the clichéd argument that “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” does carry some weight. So is it fair to leave law-abiding citizens defenseless against potential assailants with guns? Is it even possible to regulate such a thing at this point? With the astronomically high number of guns in this country, both legally registered and illegally obtained, can anything be done to keep them out of the hands of the wrong people?
The answer to that last question is an emphatic “probably not.” But that doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up in defeat and not even make an attempt to reduce the likelihood of such tragedies happening in the future. The NRA seems to want this to happen, and with one of the largest government lobbyist groups in the country, it has the money and power required to keep its agenda afloat. I’m not suggesting the NRA has an agenda to keep guns easily accessible in order to perpetuate these kinds of atrocities, but I am suggesting the NRA has an agenda to sustain and expand the gun industry. It may hide behind the constitutional right to bear arms as a defense for the de-regulation of gun sales, but the NRA lobby’s members ultimately have the same goal as any corporate lobbyist group – profit.
Again, I have no practical solution to offer for the problem of gun violence in America, but I do offer the suggestion that perhaps we think about the motivations behind much of the rhetoric coming from the pro-gun faction, much of which originates from the NRA. When our founding fathers drafted the Second Amendment, they surely didn’t foresee the caliber of weapons and ammunition available to the public today, nor did they foresee a juggernaut organization like the NRA exploiting our constitutional right to bear arms for the sake of profit.