Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook - The Most Obvious Question

The shootings in Sandy Hook Connecticut are a national nightmare.

The unimaginable horror of 6 and 7 year old children and school teachers being gunned down while in school is something we never, ever hope to experience again.

My first reaction to anything such as this is to always wait until we get the facts before we start talking about prevention.

Our only hope is to understand how and why this happened and hopefully we can find a solution to prevent events like this from happening again.

The first place to look for many is guns and weapons. Many feel they are easily obtained and are the root cause of all of these acts of violence.

In any case of violence, it is the person not the means that is the problem.

People drive drunk every day and cause deaths and damage yet we do not hear an outcry for banning cars. Alcohol is part of the issue in that equation and look what happened with prohibition in the 1920's.

What makes anyone think banning firearms will fare any better? I would bet that even more firearms would be in the hands of those who wouldn't be able to get them legally under our present laws. The underground market for firearms and weaponry would explode and include arms that are not available legally. Remove the laws and what you will have is unfettered access to whatever someone could afford.

This is going to make things better? I seriously doubt it.

Note: The person who killed these people (as well as any others who have committed these acts) will not be mentioned by name in this space. He will be referred to as CT  - Connecticut

Now that we are starting to get information about the background of CT, maybe we can now begin to understand how this happened.

And of course, the biggest question like any other senseless act of violence, is why.

The first and most important question out of all is this:

If CT was unstable, and his mother was increasingly having difficulties with him, how did he get access to her weapons and ammunition?

We are now learning that CT's mother was a "prepper". For those of you who aren't familiar with what and who preppers are, they are simply those who believe that there will be chaos and collapse at some point in the near future and a preparing for the worst. Like anything, being prepared for the worst is not the craziest notion.

She stockpiled food and water because she believed that the world is headed for an economic collapse which would lead to anarchy. She also stockpiled weapons and ammunition.

From what I've read, she was also an avid gun collector/enthusiast and taught both of her sons to shoot. Again, nothing wrong with that, there are plenty of responsible gun owners and enthusiasts who have learned from their parents and teach their kids.

Any responsible gun owner knows that you cannot, not should not, let children have access to weapons and ammunition. Especially a child (though technically an adult as he was 20) with issues as it appears that CT has been described to have had.

Some accounts in the news have quoted friends of CT's mother saying she was losing him. I've seen people in the news quoted as saying she was a responsible gun owner who was very careful with her firearms. If this was the case, and we need to know how CT got his hands on those guns and all that ammunition.

The following excerpts are from a blog called The Anarchist Soccer Mom. This woman also has a child who has exhibited behavior that is potentially dangerous.

There is no more powerful testimony about this issue than someone who lives with a child that has the potential to commit acts of violence beyond what most children exhibit.
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to.
I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me.
Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.
At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.
I am sharing this story because I am XXXXX's mother. I am XXXXX's and XXXXX's mother. I am XXXXX's mother. I am XXXXX's mother. I am XXXXX's other. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
 No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”
I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.
 Please, do yourself a favor and read the entire story here.

Here is a CNN interview with Liza Long, the author of the blog above.

We cannot conceive of these acts because we do not process thoughts as the people who commit these acts do.  We cannot understand these acts of violence and our initial reaction is to somehow stop these any way we can. Restricting the rights of law abiding citizens is not how we accomplish that goal.

Understanding what makes this happen is the key.

When incidents like this occur, the first thing most people say is that "the world is getting worse".

That's not the case, "the world" has always been a dangerous place anywhere you go. There has actually been no increase in mass shootings. More here.

Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written a history of mass murders in America, said that while mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, they actually dropped in the 2000s. And mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929, according to his data. He estimates that there were 32 in the 1980s, 42 in the 1990s and 26 in the first decade of the century.
Chances of being killed in a mass shooting, he says, are probably no greater than being struck by lightning.
Still, he understands the public perception — and extensive media coverage — when mass shootings occur in places like malls and schools. “There is this feeling that could have been me. It makes it so much more frightening.”

In closing, rest in peace those whose lives were cut short by another who we simply cannot understand how or why he decided to do what he did. Here's hoping someday soon we can recognize the warning signs and avert these tragedies.

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