I was as deeply affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy as everyone else was, who lives in or near Newtown or in the USA, but in order to start a dialogue going to solve the dilemma of trying to figure out the best way to keep our children safe, we have to know what people in other parts of the country are thinking too.
I decided to do this interview about guns, gun control and the Sandy Hook shooting, with a person who lives in Texas, who was born and raised there, educated there, and still resides there. I think readers may find the answers very thought provoking. The person shall remain anonymous.
If you decide to comment, please let’s make this constructive criticism to reach an ultimate goal of a sensible solution for all.
Note: Although there are some valid points below, this is not necessarily my viewpoint and I am simply the interviewer.
Questions and Answers:
What do you think caused the tragedy in Newtown?
Obviously, mental illness is the key cause of this tragedy. This was likely exacerbated by side effects of anti-depressant medication, the mother’s stated intention to have him committed pressing him to act, and the school being a target because she volunteered there.
What do you think about the past actions of the gunman's mother regarding her son, before the tragedy happened (from what you have read/learned)?
She appears to have tended for him well, but divorces cause sometimes horrible side effects with the children used as pawns, or weapons, against ones ex. I do not blame her for engaging in shooting sports with her son, as any mutual bonding should be viewed as a positive. She was obviously not careful enough in the storage of her weapons.
Where do you place blame for the massacre?
The blame rests solely on the shooter. No one could have foreseen the horrific act.
What could have been done to prevent this crime?
Gun-free zones present the sociopath with the opportunity to wreak carnage without resistance. It would therefore seem obvious that creating barriers to that non-resistant environment is a key to avoiding such events. Guns in the possession of the law-abiding are not a threat to anyone other than a criminal attacker. To suggest otherwise is irrational by definition.
What could (or can) the school have done to protect the children more? (or what was not in place at the time of this crime, that you think should have been done, or can be done now?)
Again, the stated gun-free zone turned the school into a shooting gallery for the sociopath. The same is true for the Ft. Hood & Aurora shootings. This obvious pattern must be corrected. Most criminal sociopaths seek defenseless and weak victims to prey upon, because they are cowards themselves.
Whose responsibility is it to protect our children?
Primary child protection is the job of the parent. In the case of a community ward, like a school, that mantle passes from the parent to that entity during their time of custody.
Who should decide what is done to change things to make all of us safer?
There is no such thing as absolute safety. Lightning can and will strike. That said there are common sense precautions that can & should be taken. I don’t have any minor children, but I wouldn’t want my grandchildren locked down in some sort of lightless dungeon for their “safety”. To my thinking, this would be psychologically harmful, and encourage a sense of powerlessness that shouldn’t hold true in our free society. Such decisions should be made jointly between the parents and custodial authorities.
What is your solution to make the schools safer right now? (that is easily and quickly attainable, and perhaps easily agreed upon).
Nothing will be easily agreed upon, as too much emotion is attached to this debate.
I have already pointed out the weakness and created vulnerability of gun-free zones. I would empower teachers and other school employees to voluntarily acquire Concealed Carry Licenses (CCL) and to thereby provide natural security. It would behove school administrators to have at least one such person in the specific hierarchy (Principal, Vice Principal, Coach, etc.) for every school. This would be done in a very discreet manner so as not to cause distress for the children. Training for such CLs should be subsidized by the school district, but no individual teacher or employee should be compelled to participate. We know from Sandy Hook several tales of bravery in opposing the sociopath, but they were at an institutional disadvantage and died in their attempt at resistance. I do not agree with the NRA about putting uniformed marshals in every school. First, they might be intimidating to the children. And second, they would be the obvious first target by stealth, which would then leave the rest of the school a defenseless shooting gallery again.
Do you think all people in the USA should have the opportunity to own guns (of any type)? If so, why? And if not, why?
Absolutely YES! First, it is a natural right to be able to defend one’s self. If the attacker is armed, you must also be armed to resist the attack. Second, it is a Constitutional right to individually bear arms. Our country was created to not have a standing army, but a militia of the whole people under direction of State authorities. Third, the principle was not limited to personal defense, but also to community defense against Indian attacks, against invasion by foreign powers, and to literally overthrow tyranny should that ever evolve domestically. Jefferson was especially adamant on that latter point.
Do you think all people in the WORLD should have the opportunity to own guns (of any type)? if so, why? and if not, why? (and yes we know you cannot control world laws, or can you? but we are asking for your opinion on right to ownership and possible advantages or consequences, if any.)
The right to self defense is a natural right, by any means necessary. I won’t express opinions about various cultures other than our own. But I will note that the Swiss are more heavily armed, have lower violent crime, greater safety and happiness as a result.
Why do you (or individuals) need a semi-automatic or automatic weapon?
Automatic weapons are not generally available in the US. Rarely, under extreme circumstances it can occur, but with extreme regulation.
Semi-automatic weapons are not a new technology, having been invented in the late 1800s. There is no justification in infringing on the individual right to own them. The greatest extent of gun violence and victimization are in the areas with the most stringent gun control laws.
Do you think all people in the world should have the opportunity to own a *semi-automatic assault rifle? if so, why? and if not, why? *(A weapon in which the gun fires as fast as the trigger can be pulled).
That is a false definition. An assault rifle has fully automatic capability.
But to your point, the one clear effect of general ownership of guns is an increase in civility, and greater personal security, especially for women and the elderly. Again cultural differences don’t allow for world generalizations.
Do you think all people in the world should have the opportunity to own an **automatic assault rifle ("machine gun")? if so, why? and if not, why? and if not, why?**(A weapon in which the gun fires numerous rounds at high speed, or fastest firing method available).
This is primarily a military weapon, not one for personal protection. Again, cultural differences don’t allow for world generalizations.
Should everyone be able to obtain a permit and carry a concealed weapon? if so, why?
Not everyone. Neither the mentally unstable, felons, nor minors should be allowed gun ownership. Minors could be so allowed with the avowed approval of their parents.
What do you think should be the acceptable method of obtaining a weapon of any sort? (such as, but not limited to, background checks, waiting period, if any, denial to certain individuals, if any, etc.).
Background checks make sense, but waiting periods should extend no longer than the time needed for the background check. Consider the woman under threat of violence; should she be denied the ability to defend herself? Obviously not! Public policy should never openly create victims.
Are there any people you think should not be allowed to obtain weapons legally? if so, whom?
As above, the mentally unstable, felons, and minors, without parental approval, should be denied legal ownership.
What reforms, if any, do you think should be made to gun laws?
State gun Licenses and Concealed Carry Permits should be honoured reciprocally throughout the nation. There must be recognition that restrictions on gun rights only affect the law-abiding. Criminals, by definition, are scofflaws looking to victimize others. Armed felonies should be severely treated by the courts with mandatory additional sentencing.
What gun laws do you think should remain in place? and why?
All gun laws should be enacted at the State and local level, not nationally, and should comply with the plain meaning of the 2nd Amendment. Most national gun laws have little beneficial effect on crime.
What is your stand on the NRA belief. Should children be handling guns? If so, why? if not, why?
I’m unclear as to the specific NRA belief you ask about. The NRA has world class gun education programs.
But children should be introduced to weapons by responsible adults as soon as the parents deem them competent. I began hunting at age 6, with a rifle shortly thereafter, and harvested the all-time family trophy buck at age 9. This was an annual family event with both my Mom & Dad involved. My sisters didn’t deer hunt, terrain and conditions were too rough for them, but they did do bird hunting and fishing.
What age is too young (or what should age limit be) to handle or learn about guns?
That’s a parental judgement. I got my first BB gun at age 6, and a rifle as soon as I was competent with that. There are obvious strength needs to competently handle a weapon. There was very strict parental oversight at all times other than when individually stalking game.
What do you think would happen if citizens were not allowed to legally own semi-automatic or automatic weapons?
Again, automatic weapons are not legal now.
If semi-automatic weapons were banned, criminal predators would still get them and thereby be granted an advantage over the law-abiding. Such a policy is contrary to common sense.
What do you think would happen if citizens were not allowed to own guns at all? (only police etc. could own guns).
Violent crime would skyrocket as predators would be unrestrained. Remember in the case of a criminal attack, seconds count crucially. As the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!
Do you have any last comments you'd like to add?
People must look at this unemotionally and practically. The criminal element seeks to prey on the weak or defenseless, thus the societal goal should be to empower self defense. As a result infringement on gun rights of law-abiding solid citizens is not only counterproductive, but makes society a party to the criminal action allowed. Every rape, assault, or property crime perpetrated against a victim denied the right of self-protection is an obscenity!