by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
"After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military." William S. Burroughs
Before last Friday came to a close, emails rolled in wanting to know when I was going to opine about the killings in Connecticut. I did not reply. After a deep breath and some time to reflect, here goes...
Life is hazardous to your health.
Other people are hazardous to your health.
And sometimes, through own poor decision-making and the bewildering decision-making of others, life ends suddenly.
It's terrible. But, that's life.
Five weeks ago my wife's step mom, Suzy, was murdered. She, a petite, defenseless woman of 73, was in her home when an 18-year old high school student who lived in the neighborhood entered, uninvited, and stabbed her to death. Shock gave way to grief which has given way to acceptance and anger. That experience is fresh so I understand, somewhat, what those people in Connecticut are going through and the feelings to come. We'll never know but had Suzy a firearm perhaps a different outcome.
Last Friday, a heavily armed, with guns, young man murdered his mother in their home. He then went to an elementary school in the small community of Newtown and murdered 26, most children, and committed suicide.
Last evening on the news a reporter said he'd spoken with a Marine (combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan), happened to be a first-responder, who said he'd never seen anything like the horror in the school.
Police say the investigation is going to take a while. Since the killer and his mother are dead, they may never have all the answers. Probably not.
No one in the school was armed. They were defenseless. Safety protocols in place could only do so much. Quick-thinking, reactive decision-making, and raw courage from adults to shield their students from the killer saved lives but at the cost of their own.
The political fighting over firearms started immediately the day of the killing. On it goes.
The following day I read a poorly written OpEd in a local paper that recklessly interchanged the words "guns," "firearms," and "lethal weapons" - as if to imply all were one and the same and there were no others. Since the author had the courage to include an email address, I wrote civilly pointing out the emotional, short-sighted perspective. No reply and most likely there will not be one, and that's okay. This is not the forum to expound on the precision of language but it's absolutely germane for serious discourse.
What about lethal weapons?
Let's suppose Adam Lanza, the killer at Sandy Hook Elementary, had been armed with machetes, baseball bats, golf clubs, axes, hammers, tire irons, crow bars, broken bottles, or a chain saw. Would the carnage have been any less? Maybe. Maybe not.
Would 5, 10, or 15 less murders have been more acceptable?
How would he have been stopped?
That is, how to solve the problem of a killer regardless of the weapon wielded?
Police officers in every school? How many is enough?
Retired police officers or military personnel, armed, who volunteer in every school? Again, how many is enough?
Train and arm school administrators, teachers, and support staff? Some or all?
To stop a determined killer, regardless of weapon, there is but one means - a firearm in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. And no political posturing, exhaustive discussions about mental health and inconclusive studies as to cultural causes, nor restrictive law-making is going to change that bottom line.
A gun, a firearm, is not bad. It is a tool - a tool that can be abused as well as rightly used. Best to have the tool within arm's reach and not need it than to need it and not have it - to stop other people hazardous to your health or the health of those for whom you are responsible.
And let's start at the beginning - with a new definition for "gun control": The tightness of the shot group during training/target practice, or, god-forbid, stopping a killer.
I know many teachers. There are elementary school teachers in my family. Do I want them trained and armed - to protect themselves and their students? Yes! And I suspect even the most passive among them would not object.