When you travel to an exotic land and only know a few of phrases in their language, that narrow common ground is the only place actual communication can begin. Today the foreign land is the Polarized States of America and there are three statements I offer as the fulcrum for a level playing field of discourse: I believe in G-d, I am patriot, and I support everyone’s right to bear arms.
The Sandy Hook tragedy launched what was has been referred by some as a ‘national conversation’ on gun control. But since by definition, conversation requires listening by both sides, rather than anything approaching a meaningful domestic dialogue, what ensued was a bitch-slapping fracas of acerbic cloaks fashioned out of the flag.
After learning that the Annual East Coast Fine Arms Show went on as scheduled three weeks to the day and less than 50 miles from Sandy Hook despite calls for “sensitivity” by Stamford’s Republican Mayor Michael Pavia, some of the sadness I had that day was rekindled. Then when the news of the shooting at Taft High School in Taft, California broke last afternoon, that sadness developed to mourning for a country I sometimes do not recognize in a world I understand less and less.
The finger pointing has been fast and furious at everything from the lack of arms control, to the failings of our mental health care system, to the absence of school prayer, to degree of violence in video games and most unfairly, to autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. By now, some of even the most ardent finger pointers realize that there were many factors that form the anatomy of this and similar tragedies and unless they are all addressed by the degree in which contribute, this cancer on the American psyche will go on unabated as it did in the mind of the only singular smoking gun in all of this, a fatally anguished 20 year old named Adam Lanza who started with his mother as victim number one.
Nancy Lanza by all accounts was a loving, devoted parent, a good friend, and a responsible gun owner. She did privately acknowledge Adam as “troubled” which brings up the mental health argument: if someone’s own mother failed to see the danger signs in something she was already aware of, exactly how could the most even the most comprehensive mental health care system be able to intervene in any additional way? It should also be noted that a whole cadre of guns did not keep Nancy Lanza safe, even in her own home.
Armed guards in schools have been offered as a solution. Israel, used as an example for the argument, established security requirements following the 1995 incident they are still trying to protect against: terrorism by militants with the geographical access of a cross town bus ride, not crazed citizens of their own. Their guards are also part of a multi-tiered, country wide defense strategy, not a guy with a Glock at the gate. Columbine had a guard, so did Taft High but guards are not robots, sometimes they have lunch or get snowed in. So what about arming the teachers? Yes, what about that…
Though most assuredly not effective in every situation, at yesterday’s incident, it was a successful appeal for reason by a heroic, unarmed pair; teacher Ryan Heber & campus supervisor Kathi Lee Hooks, that brought an end to the violence at their high school. Sandy Hook is an elementary school. The requisite safety measures that should be in place to ensure an educator’s firearm could not be accessed by dozens of six and seven year olds eliminates the possibility of that fire arm being retrieved, loaded and able to defend in a timely manner against anyone advancing at the velocity of someone who literally just shot their way into a building.
If your local law enforcement learned of an assailant who was armed as Adam Lanza was, with a 9mm Sig Sauer, a 10mm Glock and .233 Caliber Bushmaster Assault Rifle in even an empty warehouse, the response would likely includes numerous backups from surrounding communities, closed city blocks and police helicopters. So how much weaponry in what number of hands would be needed to fairly battle a lunatic ballistically out-fitted out for battle?
We know Adam got his guns from his mother, who purchased them all legally. We know that assault weapons, though banned at the time, were used in 1999 at Columbine shooting. This does mean that new gun regulations, lacking the mysterious power to make ones that already exist disappear, are not the complete answer, but far from deserving complete exoneration either.
Could a rational 2nd amendment conversation begin with a single question without being branded as un-American? What if, just what if, we examined if purchasing assault weapons could be sequestered away from gun shows to gun stores performing background checks? Imagine if that joined another caucus in the video gaming industry on ratings and content in conjunction by a dialogue furthering mental outreach for troubled kids? As a country, we have always flummoxed in the aftermath of a tragedy on the proper timing for addressing these questions. The faces of loved ones left behind from Virginia Tech(’07), Alger, WA (’08), Samson, AL (’09), Hartford Distributors (’10), Tuscon, AZ (’10), Aurora, CO (’12), Sandy Hook (’12) and Taft, CA (yesterday afternoon) tell me the time is now.