The Newtown Massacre: Gun Control Needs Revisiting
Today's massacre in Newtown, Connecticut once again opens up the doors for public discussion on the issue of gun control laws.
A Sleepy Little Town Devastated
In a quiet Connecticut neighborhood, a little town was shocked by one of the most worst mass killings in US history. In its aftermath, the Sandy Hook Elementary School would be gunned down in a matter of minutes. The toll would amount to 20 children murdered and 6 adults dead.
Newtown, located in Fairfield County some 50 miles north of New York is a sleepy affluent town of 1,941 people. According to the 2010 US Census, the town is predominantly white (99%) with 40% of the households with children under the age of 18.
The killer, Adam Lanza, 20 years old of Newton was found dead at the scene having committed suicide after the tragedy. Authorities said that Lanza used two semi-automatic pistols in the killing including a Glock and Sig Sauer. A .223 caliber rifle was found in the trunk of his car.
Not Your Typical Massacre
But while gun control advocates are outraged, we have to look at the case individually. Adam Lanza had personality disorders and Autism.
The guns were found to be registered legally by his mother Nancy, who was found dead in her home. That Lanza killed his mother and then proceeded to mow down innocent children, teachers, and school administrators suggests not only was he a disturbed individual, but one who was not receiving special attention.
His parents were divorced after having been married for nearly two decades. He and his mother lived in a nice predominantly white neighborhood. He was a quite kid and smart, but kept to himself. He didn't have many friends nor even established social networking accounts. If anything, this was a case of a lost soul who didn't fit in or received enough care.
He struggled to survive in this world among his peers. He lost sight of life, and chose to take vengeance, likely mocked and felt worse for people accepting whom he really was - a person with special needs. In short, he flipped and it likely all started at home with his mother denying something for which he felt he deserved.
And after all is said and done, innocent children are dead and people once again are talking about gun control laws.
Gun Control Talk Rises Again
The Newtown case is an anomaly compared to the other public massacre killings like we seen before - Columbine, Virgina Tech, and Aurora. What's to realize here is that Lanza used an already registered set of guns and had gotten access to them. That his mother didn't lock nor take cautionary measures to make sure they didn't end up in the wrong hands is a case of negligence. In other words, none of this would have happened if the guns were locked and secured in a well hidden place.
There is no way that one can enforce what goes on after the guns have been purchased. Nor can anyone predict within reason what the future holds through its owner. The guns can be used by family members or friends. There is no watch dog monitoring at all times. Once a gun is in a household, anything goes.
Laws For Mental Health and Gun Ownership Won't Work
Calls for stronger laws to do more checks into the family psychological makeup won't fly simply because this will effect patient privacy laws. You can't monitor the psychological state of a person 24/7. Besides all of these mass killers have performed their tragic acts for the first time.
So to head down the mental health road seeking to label people and prevent them from using guns isn't going to work.
The Right To Bear Arms Is Based On An Old Framework
What should matter here is that we allow these types of weaponry in our States. The Constitution allows us to bear arms, but that was created in a time and place way different than today. Limits need to be put on gun use and obtainment in our society regardless if some are opposed to it. These are real lives being lost here, not some video shoot 'em up game.
Half of the people in this country are for gun control laws. The other half feel like it takes away their Constitutional rights.
No doubt, this is a disturbing trend acted out by young kids who are becoming desensitized to human life. You can look at violent video games as a root cause. In these perspective, a death is virtual. Being given another "life" separates one between a virtual world of make believe and one of physical reality. The actions taken on screen is becoming very gray in these kids worlds.
When done repeatedly, the mind is seeded with anger, hate, violence and a false sense of self, resulting in poor judgement. No longer does it become casual entertainment, but something very real.
A Practical Solution: Gun Licenses Should Require Education
Should people have to go through mandatory educational classes before they can use handguns? I would say yes. For example, before any law enforcement person in the State of California can get a firearm license, they must go through a 14 hour course to be properly trained on its usage. They are then required to pass both a written exam and also demonstrate proficiency in usage at the firing range.
However, for a non-professional, one is only required to take a written exam while in process of filing an application to own a gun. In other words, the only amount of education time spent is minimal at best. A better solution is to require more hours spent in the classroom and mimic the requirements of a law enforcement officer. All states should require a gun lock as well. Even limiting the number of guns obtained to one every 3-5 years is ideal.
But realize, you can never eliminate guns unless you totally restrict them, like they do in Japan.
In 2008 over 12,000 instances of gun related incidents resulted in homicide in the United States. In Japan, there were only 11. If you are to be licensed to own a gun in Japan, you have to take a class, pass a written test, and then be analyzed by a mental health administrator for psychological issues and potential drug use. As a gun owner, they are required to do this every three years. You are required to list where your gun is to be located and that it is locked up. Therefore, police can come by and enforce this at any time.
Can you see how this makes gun ownership a responsibility and not just an object of possession? Not many Japanese go through all this hassle to own a gun. And that's the point. Make it difficult to obtain and by doing so, have less of them in circulation.
Where's Our Limits?
Nobody likes to lose something when its already been established as doctrine. Gun owners will always cite the Constitution. Some gun owners are more responsible than others. But, "some" is not good enough.
To what extent do we continue to turn our heads away, weeks after a devastating killing like this and do nothing about it? Kids are murdering kids in this country. This one also happened to murder his own mother too.
When does it only become a real issue, when it happens to you or your family?
About Kerry Kobashi
Kerry is the founder of KerryOnWorld. He lives in Silicon Valley.