Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Change in Attitude is Required

Friday was a horrific day. I find it impossible to believe that any parent who did not have their child close enough to touch when the heard the news from Newton didn't experience feel a sudden pang of unease; a sharp fear for the safety of their child. I know I did.

The news media has really covered themselves in glory in this tragedy as well haven't they? About the only thing they had right in the initial reports were the name of the town and it's distance from New York City; like anyone out side of New York City would really care about how far away it was.

Some of that can be attributed to the 'fog of war' (which is a really bad analogy to use, I know), but most can be attributed to newsreader's requirement to be first. There is no requirement to be second, and accurate. They didn't even bother to get the shooter's name correct before rushing to make sure the whole world knew who this individual was.

And that is the first point I want to make. Why do we care who committed this atrocity? Lets look at it this way: let's say I have some mental problems, and I want to end my life. When was the last time a suicide got more than a couple of lines in a local paper?

But; if I take some others out with me, I will get National News Coverage. The more innocent the victims, the more famous I'll be. And the more of them there are, the wider and longer the coverage. I might even make it into a trivia game as the answer to the question; "Who is the worlds biggest mass murder?".

After all; more people know the name Hitler than know the names of the millions who fought against him.

There was an episode of NCIS a few years ago where the heros were chasing a serial killer, and at the end, when he is captured he taunts them with the idea that everyone will know and remember his name for its infamy, while they will all die in anonymity. The leader of the team that captured the killer tells him; "Wanna bet?", and then has him declared a terrorist, and his name cannot be released for national security reasons. His notoriety is now locked away; his name will die with him.

As humans we can't help it I suppose. We are drawn to the dark and ugly by our natures. We cannot look away from the accident on the other side of the highway, or from the house fire, the flood or the ambulance outside the house up the block. The news media has a phrase- If It Bleeds, It Leads. That is our fault, not theirs. We see a possible danger to ourselves in what happened to those we see, and our hunter/gather brains want to learn from the incident. It will probably take another 10,000 years of evolution before we can look away from someone else's tragedy.

Step One to stopping these tragedy's is to stop naming the shooter. They aren't normal, functioning individuals. They don't see the pain and hurt they are causing the people they are directly or the ripple effect into the wider world. Their focus is on themselves and the attention their death will draw; whether self inflicted, or through suicide by cop.

Step Two is to eliminate 'Gun Free Zones'. The old adage that 'When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns' is not just an NRA bumper sticker; its a truth. Eliminating a technology through law, properly called a PROHIBITION never works. For examples, see any any prohibition ever passed. Our ones on alcohol and drugs have been complete successes, haven't they? The ban on Guns in England has meant an end to gun violence there, right? Oh; well maybe not.

Banning a technology is a Pollyanna approach. An If-I-Close-My-Eyes-It-Won't-Exist theory. I don't think it springs from a belief in the innate goodness in mankind, but more from the attitude that 'I don't know what to do about this issue; lets ban it' state of mind. No thought is given to the facts; fact: a gun can be made very easily by a competent person; fact: there are guns in existence every where outside your Pollyanna world, and we can't keep hordes of people or tons of drugs from being smuggled into the country; a few crates of guns wouldn't be hard.

Laws for gun free zones are stupid. They are an advertisement that no one but the shooter will be armed. I don't think it is a coincidence that all of the mass shootings in this country have been in gun free zones. The shooters are in search of a public suicide, notoriety and a control they feel they lack over their lives. Carrying a gun into a school gives them that control. You will notice that none of these shootings have taken place in a police station or FOP Lodge; a gun shop or show or at an NRA convention. I wonder why?

There is a report out recently that there was a concealed carry permit holder in the Clackamas Town Center who may have stopped the shooting.  This man had to have been interviewed by the police; his story had to have become a part of the official report. Yet he has not become a part of the news. The shootings at Pearl High School in Pearl Mississippi were stopped by a vice principle with a handgun; one he had to retrieve from his car, parked outside the 'gun free zone'. The Appalachian College of Law shootings are another example of of a 'good' weapon controlling a 'bad' one.

It has been said many times before, and will probably be repeated many more times in the future. Guns don't kill people; people do. A gun is a tool; a tool for killing. Which makes it a very effective tool for protection and defense. It also makes it the tool of choice for those who wish to make a name for themselves.

The solution to stopping shootings like the one Friday are not to ban more guns, but to ban gun free zones. We can't afford the ideology that banning weapons from a particular place will make them safe. We need to recognize that the possession of a firearm in the hands of a competent owner does more to protect a school than an eight by twelve sign in the front yard declaring it a 'GUN FREE ZONE'.

Sandy Hook is just another example of when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

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