Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gun-Control Debate: How Americans Exploit a Tragedy

I'm sure you all have heard of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of 26 innocents, 20 of them being little children. This is the second worse tragedy after the Virginia Tech massacre in terms of body count, but in terms of the victims' age I feel this is much more devastating; being a volunteer teacher assistant at an elementary school myself, I was utterly horrified. It is difficult to imagine this harmless age group being targeted by a lunatic for mass murder, and of all times of the year it has to be with the winter holiday closing in. I cannot begin to imagine the pain that community is going through.

Honestly, I really would rather not give any commentary about this event as I thought there was no need to. But lo and behold, like a scheduled appointment, politics rears its ugly head to exploit this tragedy and turn this time of mourning into a time of argument. Already, the debate over gun control is now the main issue for Americans whether for or against. Every time there is such a tragedy national attention shifts to one half of the country demanding stronger gun laws while the other half makes claims that things could have turned out better if one of the victims was armed.

Personally, I am undecided on gun control; true, the United States has the highest number of firearm related deaths per year by far, but I am not convinced that it is due to high rates of private gun ownership. Switzerland has a very high rate of private gun ownership, and yet their firearm-related death rate is much closer to Japan's (who to my understanding has strict gun control laws) statistics than the US's. What bothers me about the gun-control debate is that after each massacre both proponents and opponents blindly claim the event as the ultimate case for their side. In truth, both sides and the debate itself are all irrelevant. A firearm is nothing but a tool to be used for whatever the purpose. The weapon the murderer used was the absolute intent and desire to hurt and kill. When the will to kill is that strong, a firearm is not necessary; the killer could have easily has made this body count with a samurai sword, a kitchen knife, or a police baton. I wonder where the gun control debate would go if a massacre really did happen with one of those...

Having a firearm did not cause the Sandy Hook killer to go on a murder spree. We have not heard enough about what sent him over the edge (though clearly he chose to attack Sandy Hook due to it being a familiar comfort zone) and made him murder innocent children. It would not surprise me if he was mentally ill; thanks to Reagan the US is now really lacking in the field of mental health. And I will concede: mental illness combined with easy access to firearms is a recipe for disaster. So is mental illness with easy access to anything that can be used as a weapon. Which one is more of a problem?

As for opponents of gun control, they are equally clueless. Their number one argument is always that if one of the victims was armed, the tragedy could have been averted. First of all, this lacks common sense; a firearm at an elementary school? And what happens if the teacher is unaware while a student finds it and starts playing "Call of Duty in RL"? Secondly: a firearm is just a tool. It cannot defend you if A. You know nothing of the tool's capabilities and limitations. B. You have no training and/or experience using it. C. Have been antagonistic to the idea of using it up until when you need to. Even if a teacher had a Desert Eagle .50, she would have hesitated at the moment of truth (or even if she didn't, maybe hurt herself or another innocent) if it was her first attempt at wielding it while under the pressure of saving her class.

Bottom line, both sides are irrelevant. Their only concern is to prove the other side wrong, and thus each and every tragic massacre that happens is their ultimate case in point. How is this not exploitative? Until we start examining the true causes of what creates the will to kill in these crazies will we be able to take steps to prevent another tragedy.

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree. But you have to acknowledge the single purpose of an assault rifle is to kill as many PEOPLE as possible at a very quick speed, no? I agree that guns are just tools, but these are tools that help people kill as many people as quickly as possible.