Today, June 14, is not only Flag Day, it is also the six-month anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary at Newtown, CT, where 20 young children and six adults were slain. Certainly for the families and the whole town, the grief may still be overbearing. How can normalcy return after only six months.It may be months, if not a few years–if ever–before some kind of normalcy returns to Newtown, CT.
And again, Obama and some family members are calling on Congress to take legislative action on gun control. Jillian Soto, the younger sister of Victoria Soto, the teacher who was killed saving the lives of her students, said in part,. “Congress cannot continue to allow guns to be in the hands of these madmen…. We will continue to fight until Congress stands up and does something to make us safer from gun violence.”
Surely, Jillian Soto’s statement reflects a sincere and genuine belief that violent killings like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, can be prevented, or at least deterred if Congress would pass gun control legislation.
Yet what additional gun control could have stopped the senseless massacre of 20 young children, Victoria Soto and the other adults at Sandy Hook Elementary? Absolutely nothing. That’s rignt. Nothing that Congress could pass would have stopped the senseless shooting at Newtown. Connecticut has one of the strictest gun controls in the entire nation. As she followed all the gun control rules, the guns used at Sandy Hook were legally purchased by the mother of the shooter. Therein lies one of the solutions–parental responsibility. This was again shown in another tragedy, just last week, where a 4-year old accidentally shot and killed his father,Justin Stanfield Thomas, in Prescott Valley, AZ. Because the father was a veteran, most likely the gun was legally acquired and no Congressional legislation could have prevented this tragedy also. The prevention was simpy due to lack of parental responsibility.
Others have called on sort of background check to prevent the mentally ill from purchasing weapons. This is a reasonable consideration–until the background is checked. Many of the shooters have had mental considerations; however, they have not been psychologically treated, or not sufficiently treated to warrant being placed on a background checklist.
The only legislation that Congress could pass would be a total ban on guns. That will not happen because of our 2nd amendment rights to bear arms. Additionally, the millions of guns are owned by law abiding citizens, perhaps irresponsible, yet able to be the first responders in the event of a crime. Though we have law enforcement agencies available to respond in only a few minutes, they are the 2nd responders where seconds, not minutes, can deter a tragedy.
Rather than concentrating on more and more gun control or mental health background checks, why not look at the killers to determine the root causes of the violence in our nation. In general, who are the ones committing mass murders and other killings. Many of the shooters are those in their late teens and younger adults up to the age of 30. The mass shootings at Columbine, Aurora, CO, the shopping mall in Oregon, the most recent Santa Monica College, and even Sandy Hook Elementary were all committed by those less than 30 years old. The same with the gang bangers in major cities. In fact, some of them may be pre-teens.
Then what are the reasons for these younger adults to act out and kill. Here are some suggestions.
- Control Absolute Access to Guns. As with the Sandy Hook killer and the 4-year old who shot his father, the weapons were legally purchased, yet the lack of parental responsibility allowed the shooters access to them.
Possible Solution: Armed weapons and all ammunition need to be securely locked. Perhaps sell guns only with a safe-like lock box, i.e. one which cannot be opened without tremendous force. Alternately, show proof that a gun owner is owns a safe-like lock box.
- Notify Authorities or Be Charged.How many times has the news revealed statements, “He seemed odd and a loner, but we never thought he would do that.” or “He told me he wanted to shoot up the school, but I really didn’t believe him.”? If someone says something like that after the fact, then charge them with at least an effective misdemeanor.
Teach students to be responsible and notify the administration or the authorities. This is being done and in some potential tragedies have been thwarted; however, more needs to be done. In fact, if the news media would focus on these stories as much as they do with actual shootings. If the news media would put as much attention on those who notified the authorities as the shooter, more and more students and adults would not let suspicious comments slide.
Possible Solution: Publicize the need for getting involved and reporting potential threats. If not already enacted, create programs in schools and other venues to assist others to understand the importance of being on t he alert, not only for terrorists, but for young potential killers.
- Violent Video Games. Many say there have been studies showing no evidence between play violent video games and violence, yet there is no way that those playing hours and hours of violent video games with simulated semi-automatic weapons are desensitized to real-life situations of death. As it turns out, that’s exactly what the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary did. He shut himself away and played hours upon hours of violent video games. Cigarettes, liquor, and gasoline are taxed. Why not violent video games.
Possible Solution: Ban or tax violent video games
- Perhaps the Most Serious, Loners. Many of the shooters (Columbine, Sandy Hook and others) were loners. They may have come from broken families, abusive situations at home, or other situations which caused them to flee from a normalized connection with society. Not enough to warrant to be flagged as mentally ill, yet caused by something to isolated themselves, such as the shooter at Sandy Hook.
Herein lies the connection with Flag Day and the greatest generation of our time, the WWII generation. Since the 1950s, technology in communications has increased exponentially yet, during the same time period, interactive communications has significantly deteriorated. Sure, there were gangs back then and they fought each other; however, they didn’t kill each other. Families stayed together.There was real communications among families. Parents and children sat down at the dinner table rather than each picking up their meal and then splitting to the TV room or the bedroom to play video games. Children played with and interacted with other children learning to socialize. That’s the only way they could communicate–by conversing with each other. They had no email and they couldn’t text. Essentially, today’s society has lost the capacity to communicate and converse with each other.
Possible Solution: Learn old fashion communication skills. If Congress wants to do something, provide an educational communications program for all families on a voluntary basis and mandated programs for those identified as concerned families. Provide real alternatives to isolating video games and gang involvement.
Surely, there are many more productive solutions; however, more gun control or gun bans are not the root solutions.