Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Reflction on Newtown CT Massacre and Gun Control
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has shaken this country. The highest mandate of our government is to protect our rights, the most important of which is the right to life, yet still a deranged murder assailed little children and their caretakers. In a terrible way, the December 14 massacre in Newtown Connecticut is a new, notorious low in mass murder.
The deaths of twenty first graders, along with six other staff members, is a devastating evil, one which should force us to reflect on deeper, humbling realities in our culture. This is a fallen world full of fallen people. This notion may offend some, but from the Framers of the Constitution to the conservative elements in our polity today, this humbling reality has factored into the law and order needed to preserve the peace and protect or rights. Inevitably, the fallen nature of man will fall out from time to time, a nasty reality that cannot be ignored, nor can it be eradicated by legislative or judicial fiat.
Understandably, our nation’s leaders in Washington and throughout the country are not just aggrieved but now want a more aggressive policy of gun control to stop these mass murders from manifesting again. Our media culture will magnify tragic elements, yet no matter how good the intentions of our leaders or our communities, human nature cannot be perfected or improve through human force.
More gun-control will not prevent this despicable criminals from killing again, nor will they prevent mass murder with assault weapons.
Great Britain, which has one of strictest gun-control laws in the world, also has one of the crime rates in the world. The British police, which by law are not permitted to have firearms on patrol, suffer violence. Private citizens in Great Britain have been prosecuted for defending their homes with firearms.
Yet gun control advocates have asserted that greater access to firearms will lead to more accidental gun deaths. The Cato Institute refuted this argument in one report, in which research concluded that the greater access of firearms does not lead to more gun deaths. One liberal website columnist rejected his opposition to gun control because it simply does not work. Citing the exhaustive review of gun control studies by the National Academy of Sciences, CNN reported also that gun control does not lead to crime control.
Independent research has also demonstrated that gun control laws do not protect people. The celebrated Florida State University academics Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, liberal academics in their own right, released their own studies to establish for a reluctant academic community that firearms do prevent crime. The comprehensive methodology of their studies confirmed the credibility of Kleck and Gertz’ finding. I still recall this case in one of my criminology textbooks at UC Irvine, an overwhelming indicator that guns do prevent crime, and their easier availability would prevent violence.
After the Supreme Court struck down Washington D.C.'s individual hand gun ban in District of Columbia v Heller, the murder rate plummeted in the national capital, which up to then had one of the highest murder rates in the country, worse than Los Angeles. Chicago's murder rates also went down after the ruling that struck down the D.C. ban. Not even one week before the Newtown Massacre, the Federal Court of Appeals struck down Chicago's strict gun control laws. Pundits predict a continued decline in homicide.
Forty states have concealed carry laws enforced, including Connecticut. Yet the Newtown assailant Adam Lanza still took out twenty-six people with an assault rifle. One provision of the Connecticut law has hamstrung lawful self-defense:
individual carriers must seek permission before they can carry a concealed firearm on a public school campus. This exception, which remains extant in many states, actually allows schools to be easy targets for deranged murders seeking to take out their insane villainy on any easy prey. Imagine if one person at Sandy Hook Elementary had been armed. The assailant would have been stopped before he had the chance to spray bullets all over the elementary school campus.
Still, public officials are running their mouths for more gun control. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has discredited himself when he arrogantly and foolishly claims that this nation has an "epidemic of gun violence". This tragedy has disturbed law enforcement and public school officials over the country, and rightly so; yet we must not permit out leaders to jump to furious conclusions about gun control, as if removing the firearms from law-abiding citizens will prevent the criminals, thugs, and men with secretive intent from attempting such harm.
Despite the superficial scare of such a reform, every state should expand the limits of lawful “conceal and carry” laws. One woman in Texas witnessed her own mother and father get shot to death. She argued to her state legislature that if she had her own firearm, she could have killed the assailant before they finished off her parents. US Senator Joe Machin (D-West Virginia) conceded that this country needs to have a debate on gun control. He then emphasized that he does not want to limit gun ownership, a policy which would put him out of step as well as out of touch with his own West Virginia constituents, of which 55% own a gun.
Yes, this country needs to have a serious discussion on gun control, but not a debate which delineates further restrictions on gun ownership, but rather expands the legal propriety for carrying a firearm. The citizens in this country should not permit anyone in power, whether president, governor, or mayor, to limit law-abiding citizens’ access to firearms. Yes, background checks which evaluate the competence and character of gun purchases are prudent. Restricting the ownership of guns altogether, however, will not prevent wicked men from arming themselves and perpetrating evil.