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A hidden problem

When I wrote about gun control in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, I was only thinking about part of the problem.  Mine was a kind of knee-jerk liberal reaction to a tragedy. Today I’ve seen, and read “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother“, and I think that all of us should take a good long look at that, and realize how far we have to go before our problem of mass violence against innocents is solved (if it ever is).

Liza Long’s article made me realize how little I know about the anger I see in some of the boys at my school, that involves striking out at anyone, even those they love the most.  Reading the comments shows how much torture it is for such mental illness sufferers as well as for their families.  Reading CVK’s story of his own struggle makes it even more poignant, but what we do when so little is known about how best to help may well be a long time coming.  Jail is surely not the answer, and we don’t yet know enough for other good solutions.

My sons and I were lucky.  We did not suffer any of the problems described.  I have to wonder if the problem has always been there for some individuals in some families and it was just hushed up, or if there really is an increase in those affected.  How much does prior head injury have to do with the subsequent rages.  Ms. Long does not mention any head injury to her son, but several of the commenters do.

Obviously, there is much more for us as a society to learn and act upon.  What help, if any, was available to Adam Lanza’s mother?  Did Adam at some point suffer a head injury? His dad’s role?  We may never know, and it shouldn’t matter except to those also affected or doing the needed research. It’s easy to link the possibilities to the PTSD and TBI suffered by so many of our soldiers and to speculate about similar effects in some children. What can we do when so much of our affordable health insurance does not cover mental issues, either for children or adults? Does Obamacare cover it? The vets sure have a hard time getting help as well.

I still think automatic, military style arms should only be allowed to the military and used for military purposes if necessary. I do not think that a civilized society needs them. But I also realize that we American love our myths, and one of the strongest of those is the gun toting stranger who rescues a whole town from the bad guys. It will be long and difficult to grow out of it, but as Obama said, we have to change.

Recent Events

You can tell how busy I’ve been with work, when nothing has appeared here since September. Now, though, I have to add mine to all the words that have been said and written about the Sandy Hook shootings. I wrote the following on Monday, but have been too busy to post it, so I’ll just grab a few minutes to copy and paste:

I wonder if we will ever learn that the ownership and use of guns should be legally controlled; that they have nothing to do with “freedom” and everything to do will mass killings. “teach your child to hunt” Yes, but you don’t need a high powered repeating rifle to hunt anything except other armed people. Military weapons should be used only by the military, not by civilians, certainly not for “fun”.

This article in the NYT today about Newtown’s problems with guns and shooting should give all of us pause. There were guns of all different kinds all over town, and people seem to have been fascinated with the most destructive of them. They weren’t using them to hunt anything.

“It was like this continuous, rapid fire,” said Amy Habboush, who was accustomed to the sound of gunfire but became alarmed last year when she heard what sounded like machine guns, though she did not complain to the police. “It was a concern. We knew there was target practice, but we hadn’t heard that noise before.”…

The police department logged more than 50 gunfire complaints this year through July, double the number for all of 2011, records show. Some of the complaints raised another issue. Gun enthusiasts here, as elsewhere in the country, have taken to loading their targets with an explosive called Tannerite, which detonates when bullets strike it, sending shock waves afield. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, Tannerite is legal in Connecticut, but safety concerns led Maryland this year to ban it…

“I’ve hunted for many years, but the police department was getting complaints of shooting in the morning, in the evening, and of people shooting at propane gas tanks just to see them explode,” Mr. Faxon said….

A second committee gathering in September drew such a large crowd that the meeting was moved into a high school cafeteria, where the opposition grew fierce. “This is a freedom that should never be taken away,” one woman said. Added another, “Teach kids to hunt, you will never have to hunt your kids.”

“No safety concerns exist,” the National Shooting Sports Foundation spokesman said, according to the minutes.

The proposed ordinance was shelved, and Ms. Jacob said the committee was in the midst of researching a more limited rule, perhaps one restricted to making the existing ban on firing weapons within 500 feet of an occupied building more enforceable.

No safety concern?! People have gone bonkers if this is the kind of irresponsible thinking and behavior that’s happening all over the country. The town looks like it was an accident waiting to happen in spite of the efforts of the police and the town council. That kind of gun use has nothing to do with freedom, or hunting, or the 2nd amendment. The complaints heard at the meeting make the people sound like a bunch of spoiled brats afraid their favorite toys are going to be taken away. The waiting lists at the legal shooting ranges were too long! And this “explanation” makes no sense:

“Guns are why we’re free in this country, and people lose sight of that when tragedies like this happen,” he said. “A gun didn’t kill all those children, a disturbed man killed all those children.”

That’s nothing but sophistry to justify a way of making money on the sales of more and more guns. How many more will have to die for people to see that guns are not why we’re free? In fact, they may well take away from us that very freedom that the shooters find so precious. All they want is the freedom to behave in dangerous ways that potentially harm others, but when peaceful citizens are forced to live in fear that some idiot will lose his temper and start firing where is freedom?

When individual freedoms threaten the safety of civilized society, they must be given up and restricted for the good of the whole. We are less a nation of individuals than a nation of communities held together by the slenderest of threads of common purpose. When our individual selfish interests come at the price of frequent murderous rampages, it’s time to to act like grownups and give them up.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who thinks this way. See this editorial comment in Monday’s NYT.

On the same day as the Sandy Hook massacre a man in China burst into an elementary school and stabbed 22 children. No one died. China strictly regulates gun ownership. Why can’t we? The NRA owes every parent who lost a child at Sandy Hook because of its ridiculous argument about the 2nd Amendment, not only an apology but compensation in monetary terms and a promise to stop promoting military type arms to private citizens. We as citizens need to stop listening to the message and taking it for the truth.