The recent mass school tragedy in Newtown, Conn. in which 20 students and six school officials were gunned down is bringing up the issue again as to how can we either stop or at least curtail this kind of violence in this country? Do we do nothing or do we make an effort?
The president in his address to the city made it clear that it’s time for action on this issue. But the question is what kind of action?
There are two areas that most experts say need to be addressed. One is making it harder to attain assault or semi-automatic weapons, and the other is more attention paid to mental illness.
The opponents of gun control say that the second amendment gives every citizen the right to bear arms. I don’t think the majority of people want to take away the right to bear arms, we are simply saying that there are certain weapons out there that should only be sold to the military or law enforcement officers. In most of these mass killings the shooter has an arsenal of ammunition for all kinds of semi-automatic, automatic and high-powered weapons.
These kinds of weapons are not needed for target practice, hunting or self-defense. If you shot an animal with some of these weapons there would be nothing left of them. And where’s the sport? If you shot an intruder the bullet would go through them and possibly kill or injure a family member in another room.
All most people are saying, and according to the various Sunday Morning Talk Shows, even 75 percent of the National Rifle Association agrees that most of these high powered weapons shouldn’t be sold to the general public.
In order to drive a car, you must have a license, insurance on the car, and once you get in you must buckle your seat belt. All these rules we must abide by, why not for guns as well?
For example there should be a limit on how much ammunition one can purchase and some kind of record kept, and that information given to the local authorities to be monitored.
Mental illness. Many of the talk show guests and hosts suggested more care for people who are mentally ill who may tend to be violent. But because this is a part of the health care system and a part of social programs, most of them have been cut and more will probably be cut to balance the budget. So what can be done?
That’s something that has to be worked out by all, especially the politicians. But this is a key area I believe would help. These people have to be identified, and something done to contain them, because they are every bit as dangerous as any terrorists.
The young man who did the shooting was considered to be unstable with mental problems, yet his mother was allowed to purchase a variety of high-powered weapons, even though he lived with her. My suggestion is that when someone applies for a gun, not only should their record and background be checked but also the people living in the house with them. Husbands, wives, children or anyone else. Remember once that gun is in the house everyone has access to it. And how many killings have been done by others who had access to guns in the house.
Matter of fact the police are saying that most of the guns used in crimes are stolen or purchased by the girlfriend or mother of the shooter. I don’t believe that but if it is partly true that’s all the more reason for a thorough background check on the people living with the gun purchaser.
Many are saying this will not stop mass killings. But Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAD) knew their efforts would not stop all drunken driving deaths, but if it prevented one death it was worth the effort. Even though there are still people dying because of drunk drivers, thousands of lives have been saved because of their efforts.
One person on Meet The Press stated that guns in this country kill 32 people a day. Gun violence has become an epidemic in practically all the major urban areas with nothing really being done about it partly because no one wants to get involved in the gun control battle or deal with the mental illness aspect of this problem.
Especially after knowing facts such as 47 percent of the women in this country own guns, and that 200,000 guns were purchased on Black Friday.
But the bottom line is that there’s no way to stop all the mass killings, but if we can prevent one then it’s worth trying something. And that something has to be keeping the guns out of the hands of mentally ill people who have no respect for human life.
It will be very interesting to hear what the Republicans say and do on this issue, in that this was a high-income community, and almost all the people killed were White.
Maybe this is something that both parties can finally work together on, for the benefit of the country. Maybe they can give it the same priority they give fighting terrorism, because this shouldn’t be happening in America.
(Ulish Carter is managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)