Sunday, December 16, 2012

Connecticut: Analysis--Tougher Gun Laws Are Not the Solution to Preventing School Shootings

As the world joined Americans in mourning the tragic massive school shooting in Newtown, CT, that claimed the lives of 28, including 20 small children, shooter Adam Lanza, 20, and his mother, Nancy, who legally owned several firearms.

It is presumed that Mrs. Lanza was shot and killed by her son because she possessed the firearms that were needed to carry out his evil deeds.

COMMENT: Within a hour after the mass-casualty shooting, observers, pundits and experts quickly rushed to urge politicians to advocate for stronger gun control laws.

Unfortunately, the estimated 20,000 local, state and federal laws and regulations governing the sale, control, registry, use, transportation, carrying and use of of handguns and long guns are reasonable, sufficient and effective in safeguarding lethal firearms in the United States.

On his Friday (December 14) broadcast show on CNN, British host Piers Morgan seemingly  and naively concluded that cultural uniqueness and differing demographics, history, legal structure and governmental philosophies have no relevance, simply because the United Kingdom has banned citizens from purchasing or possessing a handgun.

Mr. Morgan also apparently loses track of the fact that the UK is geographically similar in size to the US state of Oregon.

Interestingly, given the spiraling level of firearms-related violence in the UK, the country is hardly an acknowledged example of the effectiveness of handgun bans, with the end result being that the only citizens who have handguns are criminals (apart from the government).

Fortunately, Piers Morgan does not speak for the United States or the significant number of US citizens and residents who choose to own, carry or possess a lethal firearm as authorized by both the 2nd Amendment and upheld by the US Supreme Court. 

Since the proliferation of concealed-carry laws throughout the US in recent years, currently 49 states permit citizens with a spotless criminal record to carry a concealed handgun. Additionally, the one hold-out, Illinois, is on the verge of being forced to draft concealed-carry legislation. Of course, which major city in Illinois has one of the highest per capita crime rates--namely, Chicago, the hometown of President Barack Obama.

One of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, once said, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

In the US today, as government continues to grow and dominate its role in the day-to-day lives of all Americans, the sale of firearms is unprecedented. 

If  one is short of examples of the overreach of government's role in the lives of its citizens, and their dependence on government, please review the history of the evolving Nazis in Germany when a 1928 firearms and ammunition law authorized the confiscation of all weapons, even knives, from citizens who were distrusted by the ruling party. Seventeen years later, 12 million civilians had been killed.

It is also worthy to point out that since 49 states already have concealed-carry legislation, law enforcement agencies have seen armed robbery, carjackings, home invasions and forcible rape and other violent crimes decline largely because increasingly would-be assailants have no idea who is going to shoot back at them. 

I should also mention that out of a national population of 314 million in the US, there  is an average of 88.8 firearms per person in the country.

As regards the role of central governments and knee-jerk reactions, the UK's Firearms Amendment of 1997, banned the sale and possession of handguns throughout the country after a mentally ill person shot and killed 16 young schoolchildren and their teacher in Dunblane. 

For that one incident, all law-abiding citizens in the UK were forever punished and denied the choice of protecting themselves with a handgun when a police officer is not present, which is most of the time.

As a father and as a retired federal agent, I can only imagine how the mothers and fathers of so many little people must feel and only hope that they can find the peace and closure of such a life-altering and tragic event.

It is my hope that the anger against firearms that we are now witnessing does not cause anti-gun advocates to blame firearms, because it is not firearms that kill people, it is people that kill other people.

In assessing criminal threats on a global basis for the better part of the last 30 years, I have learned one thing: violent, angry and often mentally ill people will use whatever weapons they have access to hurt and kill others, whether the motive is economic or simple mayhem.

If a handgun is not available, a long gun will be used. If a long-gun is not available, a bladed weapon (e.g., knife, bolo, machete, etc.)  will be  relied upon. In many countries where firearms are unavailable or banned, desperate people will use anything to threaten or intimidate a target.

In essence, banning or making firearms unavailable will not end violence, it only deprive citizens of being able to defend themselves from violence.

Ironically, in yesterday's (December 15) issue of USA TODAY, was a piece authored by Connie Cone Sexton of The Arizona Republic entitled, "Mental Health Experts Seek Clues Behind Killers," whereby senseless shootings in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon are evaluated.

One expert cited emphasizes the need for schools to do a better job of screening students for signs of mental disease, which often emerges when young adults reach the ages of 18-25, exactly the same age group involving shooters in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon.

In my view, our efforts should be concentrated in keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, screening youth for evidence of mental disease and treating them accordingly, rather than continuing to bury the innocent and depriving citizens of their constitutional rights.