12/26/2012 4:09:00 PM Finding real solutions to the tragedy in Newtown
Let's keep some perspective despite the grief and rage we feel, for we need a solution, not just theater as usual.
Younger, mostly white children in an affluent suburban community got butchered Newtown, a horror that cannot be reduced and I have no desire to, but young and teen black kids are shot every day in the cities all over this country in far greater numbers than 20 every year (albeit usually not at once at the hands of a single killer). This isn't to diminish the tragedy of Newtown - it can't be diminished - but the point is the vast bulk of gun violence on kids in America is happening to minorities due mostly to teens and ex-con adults who are already forbidden by law to have guns.
So let's dispense with the proven useless. "Restricting gun ownership" (read: banning guns) is the default kneejerk for the anti-gun crowd and many others so understandably sick of the gun violence. Banning seems the easy solution to the uninitiated, and it is useful to they who believe in 'never letting a crisis go politically unexploited'. But banning guns is realistically impossible in the real world because it's unconstitutional and America has an old and good gun heritage that prevents immense crime and killing every day, and that far outweighs its bad gun 'culture', such appalling atrocities as Newtown notwithstanding.
Even if you scoff at the above, here's a darker reality: legally banning guns would just create a massive, mega-profit, criminal black-market in guns (ala booze in the 20s and the current illegal substance trade). Determined suicides would just use black-market guns, jump off bridges, step in front of trucks, hang themselves, OD, etc. Devoted killers - even the nuts - would just use black market guns, home-made bombs, poisons, cars, arson or other means. Worse, there would be less armed, law-abiding citizens to intervene. That acute shortage is already a large part of the problem, not the solution. Guns are legally banned for private ownership in war-zone Mexico, folks; how's that working out? Again, we need a fix to protect our young, not more political theater for our own sakes.
You're asking me what's the solution? Do I look like Solomon? But if I have to guess I'd say it's two-fold:
Regrettably, it's true that "guns are too available!" as our anti-gun enemies wail, but that's not because we own them, it's because we as a 'culture' fail to secure the guns we aren't actively in direct control of. The NRA and the rest of the legitimate gun community in America need to take strong, immediate, large-scale, draconian action to educate gun owners and demand legislation that places severe penalties on failure to secure guns from theft, from children and from other unqualified shooters. These penalties should include jail and revocation of gun ownership rights. Gun vaults start at under $100 and using them isn't rocket science. This one's on us, gunners, and so far we as a group are doing an inexcusably poor job of it.
The other shoe is more like a lead diver's boot versus a ballet slipper. That other shoe is we have to take a long, hard, politically unpolluted look at the far deeper and more complex issue of how America is failing in raising its kids.
Let's get real. When I was ten years old [*** sigh ***, 1955], I took my father's Colt .22 Huntsman auto pistol to school unannounced one day, gave a show and tell class on it, took it home, and got an A for the class. The only thing ever said by my teacher was don't load it (I knew that, and had brought no ammo) and keep it in my desk til school was over. Twelve-year-old kids in my town walked down Main Street shouldering rifles on the way to the city dump to shoot rats. High schoolers brought deer rifles and ammo to school in deer season to go hunting after class. The school's 'zero-tolerance' rule on deer season guns was keep them in your locker til school's out.
And ... no ... one ... shot up ... any schools ... in those days.
I'm not suggesting that same casual public use of guns by kids Newtown, of course (times have changed - boy, have they), I'm only using it as a lead-in to this:
We must ask, what are we doing differently Newtown in how we raise our kids? Where have we failed to teach values as parents in the last fifty-odd years? If there's a "solution", Americans, that question is where we look for it.
William Slusher is a retired police/medevac pilot, now an author and sociopolitical writer. He has a ranch on the Okanogan. He may be complained to at email@example.com.