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Too Early to Talk About Gun Control?

In the face of a powerful gun lobby, too many of us are silenced, including the voices of children themselves.

I respect the opinion of those who think it’s too early to talk about gun control, but tell that to my ten-year-old. He brought it up. When I asked if he had questions about the tragedy in Sandy Hook, he only had two:  Who did this, and why did he have guns?  “Only people in the army should have guns,” he explained. I calmly shared what I knew about the shooting and what little we know about Adam Lanza. I told him that there would be a lot of discussion about who should have guns and what kind of guns, and that not everyone agreed on the issue. “Yeah, like hunters,” he concurred.  And there’s also the Constitution, I added, to which he responded, “I know, the right to bear arms.” He knew. At which point, I confess, I stated my own political views that such a right was outdated and counter-productive, that while it is indeed people who pull triggers, removing the triggers (guns) themselves would ensure that unstable people could not take innocent lives. “Obviously,” he said. Obviously.

I’m not usually outspoken about my politics, maybe because I work at a University where I earnestly uphold freedom of speech and value a diversity of viewpoints, even when they conflict with my own. I’ve lived in places where there is an active “gun culture,” mainly hunting-related, and understand that good, compassionate people keep guns and respect the power of their weapons. But the gun lobby has served less to uphold the rights of all citizens and more to drown out or intimidate those who believe that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness depends upon gun control and stricter regulations that only begins with an assault weapons ban. I’m not saying anything new, and I have grumbled in my own home every time there has been a senseless gun-related tragedy. Yes, our proximity and kinship with Sandy Hook brought this home, and my ten-year-old’s small voice deserves to be heard. Too early to talk about gun control? Isn't it too late?

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wyatt December 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Yes, its too early to talk about gun control, its also not needed. Let's talk instead, about keeping people who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness, like Lanza, in a hospital setting, where they can get supervised treatment. Every one of the perpetrators of mass murders in the past 30 years, had been diagnosed as a danger to themselves and society at some point. Lanza's own neighbors called him," a ticking time bomb". When psychiatric committal laws were changed in the 1970's, it left society vulnerable to the kind of tragety of Newtown. To try to restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of all American citizens because of the actions of a few insane people is wrong and counter productive. Contrary to the current hype coming from faux news sources such as MSNBC, the 120 million people who own guns in America, are sane, law abiding citizens. This is not a gun issue, this is a mental health and school security issue. As long as acutely, mentally ill people like Lanza, are allowed to remain in society, this horrible incident will be repeated, whether they use a knife - like the murderer in China, who killed 22 children - or any other object.
CA December 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Yes, It is the person who has the problem and they can actually hurt another with any weapon they choose. But actually take a look at what we are now teaching our children through alot of videos that are violent in nature. Or sports that are violent in nature such as paintball and air soft. Children from ages 10 on up are allowed to shoot these type of guns at each other in a "war" type atmosphere. Even when we raise our kids to play with nerf guns, a lot of us tell our children do not point your toys at others. Nowadays we are telling them that it is okay to do it in these new types of games and aim these fake guns at each other. Face protection is worn at the paintball facilities etc so that kids/adults will have less eye injury, but the point is still there. They are shooting at each other and as society we are telling them it is okay. This doesn't help the child who has problems with knowing what is right and wrong. And it is wrong to shoot a fake/ or real gun at anyone. It's hard enough to see soldiers come home that are wounded in battle and children shot at an elementary school. Why should we continue to tell our children it is alright to play with guns.
Richard Poulton December 20, 2012 at 12:45 PM
I'm sorry Wyatt, but there is no evidence out there, yet, that Lanza had a diagnosed serious mental illness. What he did have was not considered as such. But it is clear he did snap. And yes there is the story out there that his mother was trying to get him committed, why, we may never know. But ask yourself one question. If she was worried enough to get him out of the home and confined for treatment, why keep a house full of guns? "Crazy" person in the home means no guns in the home. There's your "ticking time bomb".
wyatt December 20, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Richard; I beg to differ, there was in depth report on Fox News, Monday afternoon, detailing Lanza's long history of diagnosed mental illness and his Mothers efforts to get him treatment. As to why she kept guns in her house and even took him target shooting, " to bond with him" as one of their neighbors said, she payed the ultimate price for her stupidity. To CA: I completely agree with you.
Richard Poulton December 20, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Right, the media always get the story correct. If you dig further, and believe me this is by no means an excuse as to what happened, Lanza was determined long ago to have Aspergers Syndrone, which by the way is not the type of mental illnesss that requires confinement. Now yes, something did change in his head, thus as reported, but not confirmed, she was seeking to have him get confined for treatment. Aspergers Syndrone, look it up.
wyatt December 20, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Richard: The problem is not Aspergers, its that she was trying to get him committed and couldn't. Its almost impossible to get anyone committed because of changes in laws that occurred in the 1970's, even people who demonstrate dangerous, irrational behavior.
Sharon December 20, 2012 at 02:17 PM
And what about the man in China who stabbed 22 children on the same day with a knife? Do we talk about knife control and taking away the kitchen knives people use at home and in restaurants? Do we talk about removing pesticides from hardware stores because people could make a bomb? Do we remove power tools, chainsaws, and vehicles. People use vehicles to kill others all the time? People drug people against their will and kill them either fast or slow. Illegally held guns are a problem, fair enough, but if a person wants to kill, there will always be a way. Taking guns from licensed holders won't stop murder. And people will always find a way to steal or fashion weapons of whatever sort. The longer we waste our breath talking about "gun control" because its a popular topic, the longer we avoid talking about the real issue of moral decline in our nation.
wyatt December 20, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Sharon, you are spot on. Banning things in America has only led to an illegal, violent, underground trade. Until we face the fact that horrible acts of violence, like Newtown, are people problems, not object problems, we are doomed to see them repeated, whether the killer uses a gun, a knife, a bomb or a hammer.
Jill Deans December 20, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Why "instead"? Why can't we talk about gun control AND mental health issues? I absolutely respect everyone's points. I do not agree with all of them, and my first amendment rights should not be sacrificed for the second amendment.
wyatt December 20, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Jill: Because so called, "gun control" has not, nor ever will, work in a free country. Since gun ownership was banned in Australia, the gun murder rate jumped 29%. Even in Hitler's Germany, the Nazi's declared the private ownership of guns, other than some hunting weapons, illegal. Germans hid most of their guns from the government. If you want to try a Nazi or Stalin type of gun ban, leave me and the other 120 million, legal gun owners, out.
Jill Deans December 20, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I guess the point of the blog entry was missed. It was really about how anyone (including legal gun owners) who openly discuss gun control are immediately intimidated (i.e. compared to Hitler) or told to shut up (i.e. guns are not the issue). Yes, it's a powerful lobby out there, but I suspect among those 120 million legal gun owners, few feel that having the right to possess an assault weapon is what the founding fathers intended or what a free society needs to thrive.
wyatt December 20, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Actually Jill, you're wrong on all counts. No one is comparing you to Hitler, but the first thing any dictatorship does, is to try to take guns out of the hands of the people. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to ensure the people have the capacity to rescue the Constitution, should it ever become needed. Washington proposed that citizens have small arms, rifles and pistols, equal to that of any standing American Army. The founders knew that without the 2nd Amendment, all other Rights are in danger. As for a powerful lobby, that's a Red Herring when they want to demonize any group of people, such as, "BIG oil", "Big tobacco", "Big drug companies". The fact is, that the vast majority of gun owners do not belong to "BIG Gun", the NRA. Now Jill, I suspect that you have no idea what an a so called, "Assault Weapon" is. If you wnat to describe it as any weapon the military has ever used, you're talking about half of the guns in legal hands. The surplus military firearm business is huge. If you are talking about a rifle with a large capacity magazine, say 30 rounds or more, if you replace it with a 10 round magazine its no longer considered an Assault weapon. It takes exactly 1 second to change a magazine. Another aspect of an Assault weapon is that it has a lug to attach a bayonet. The point is Jill, when politicians start talking about any restrictions on our freedoms as listed in the Bill of Rights or Constitution, we had all better be, "intimidated".
Jill Deans December 20, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Do you realize, Wyatt, that you are addressing me like I'm an ignorant fool? Perhaps that was not your intention, Wyatt, but it sure comes across that way.
wantfrieswiththat December 20, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Thats incorrect. The shooters from Columbine were nothing more than upper middle class white kids with the "typical teeenager stuff" going on. As for those inncocent chinese children that got knifed, those kids did not hide or run away because they were told not to. We teach our children to run, kick, yesll, scream, and just plain high tail it out of there in case of danger. Those chinese kids follow strict rules.
wantfrieswiththat December 20, 2012 at 10:39 PM
I am curious Wyatt, what do you think about the video games this Lanza played all the time? Do you think they had an influence on him?
wantfrieswiththat December 20, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Its never too early to disuss gun control. As usual with this country, we are always reactive. We will be reactive about this tragedy. But it couldn't hurt to have a dialog on this tragedy as to what are the causes, it's symptons, and possible remedies.
wyatt December 21, 2012 at 01:18 AM
@wantfrieswiththat: I guess you didn't read CA's comments about video games, which I agreed totally with.
wyatt December 21, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Wantfrieswiththat; do your research and you won't make incorrect statements. The Columbine shooters were deaply troubled kids who were on anti-psychotic medication. They had been under treatment for several years and were far from being, normal average middle class kids.
wantfrieswiththat December 21, 2012 at 01:37 AM
are you for banning violent video games or restricted access to them?
wyatt December 21, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Jill: If you post your opinion in public, people are going to agree or disagree with you. If you think that people who don't agree with you, then list their reasons why in a civil manner, are talking to you like a fool or comparing you to Hitler, then I suggest you avoid public discussions. Do you have any knowledge of guns? It seems if you want to advocate the "control" of something, you should have a good working knowledge of their uses, history and types. Don't you agree?
Jill Deans December 21, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I apologize, Wyatt. I posted that last response because the conversation was sounding uncivil to me, but that's a subjective call. You do know more about guns than I do (although you might be surprised!). Maybe what I or my child says doesn't matter in the end. Maybe I should not have posted our thoughts. I have had various freedoms restricted my whole life, as a woman -- a whole other conversation -- I agree that it's naive for me to float in and suggest that people voluntarily restrict theirs and lay down their arms for the sake our children. It IS much more complicated than that. I also have too much going on in my life as a caretaker for two generations and a full time professional to fully engage in this conversation. I did not think through the demands of this horrible week. Again, I apologize. My mistake, and I mean that sincerely. I'm glad though that my post allowed folks to respond -- it was intended simply as "voice" from the community.
Ed Froem December 26, 2012 at 08:05 PM
According to FBI statistics, gun ownership is at an all time high and has been increasing every year since 1998. At the same time violent crime is at an all time low and has been consistently decreasing since 1992. If gun control advocates were to be believed, there should be a concomitant increase in violent crime paralleling the increase in gun ownership, yet the opposite is true.
Ed Froem December 26, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Wantfrieswiththat, actually the lockdown drills in most schools instruct teachers to keep the children in the classroom with them, not run away.

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