Sandy Hook, gun control, and common sense

A little six-year-old girl I know does not know why I have grown so attentive to her.  She is not family, though she is the daughter of acquaintances.  She has no idea that when I see her now I see the twenty Sandy Hook Elementary children exactly her age whose lives were taken from them by a madman with an assault rifle.  My immediate reaction after that horrifying event was “get rid of assault rifles.”  I had to get past the super-charged emotion to realize that the suggestion of such action is a pipe dream.  There are millions of those semi-automatic rifles already in the hands of American citizens.  Only in a totalitarian state would armed militia go from house to house collecting those weapons.  No one on either side of the gun control debate would want to see that happen.

A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a man who told me that the assault rifles sold to the public were modified so that only one round is fired when the trigger is pulled.  This morning I saw an ad on TV from a local gun dealer.  In the ad a man was shooting one of those rifles.  When he pulled the trigger it fired a volley of shots.  There seems to be a lot of misinformation going around as the issue of gun control becomes mainstream conversation.  Well, it appears to me that anyone wanting an assault rifle would certainly want it to fire several rounds with one pull of the trigger.  Otherwise what’s the point?

Common sense says to stop marketing those assault weapons.  That will not diminish the ones already in the hands of the public.  It is, however a start.  Common sense says that no one really needs a weapon like that for hunting wild game.  And common sense says to do away with “gun shows” where deadly weapons can be sold without having to run a background check on the purchaser.  It has been argued that doing away with these shows would put some people out of business.  When their business becomes a threat to the general public safety, why does it not need to be curtailed?  Is that not why we strive to put drug dealers out of business?

Some have suggested (and some are already doing it) to have armed administrators and teachers in the classroom.  Common sense says that is a formula for disaster.  It is bad enough that kids accidentally kill or maim family members by finding and playing with loaded weapons in the home.  Does anyone want that to happen in our schools?

One thing that has been suggested in the Sandy Hook situation is that the shooter’s mother was possibly intimidated by the presumed stigma of having a mentally ill son and might not have sought medical help because of it.  Common sense says that it is time we got over that medieval idea.  We say we love our relatives (children especially) but real love should motivate us to get help for those who show signs of mental illness.  It has happened in my family and the youngster in question is well cared for in a facility trained for dealing with such mental disorders.  There are resources available for such situations.

Banning gun ownership and fortifying our schools are ridiculous ideas.  Common sense says that diligence and information are the best possible deterrents to unthinkable horrors like those at Sandy Hook.   

When people started getting killed by drivers who texted while driving, we did not even suggest that we ban cell phones and cars.  That is preposterous.  What we did do is disseminate information to let people become aware of the dangers.  Let us be as diligent in publicizing the resources available for treating and helping mentally ill family members.  Let us never ignore “red flags” that portend a serious calamity like that at Sandy Hook. 

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