When in danger or in doubt...
Jan 02, 2013 | 2914 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre set himself up for especially virulent criticism from the left with his proposal Dec. 21 calling for armed guards in all public schools.

Not that the left needed any encouragement.

After Sandy Hook, President Obama said sternly that “we have to do something.” He did not specify exactly what. Given the strong media-driven sentiment about firearms, he didn’t have to.

“When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout,” goes the bromide. That’s largely what we’re doing these days.

One of the few rational voices in the aftermath of the tragedy in Connecticut is one that, predictably, hasn’t gotten all that much attention. Cory Booker, mayor of crime-ridden Newark, N.J., denounced the back-and-forth about gun control as a contrived debate – “a convenient trick to try to divide our country more,” Booker said on ABC’s “This Week” Dec. 23.

Booker is right. The debate at both ends of the political spectrum, not just the NRA’s position, is hysterical. And so has been much, if not most, media coverage of the subject.

Statistics show that places with the most stringent gun control often have the worst rates of violent crime; take Mexico, for example.

Consider, as well, that most of the mass murders in recent times in America have been committed in places where all firearms are specifically and strictly forbidden.

They also show that the only public policy that has ever had a positive impact on gun crime and murder statistics is the granting of rights to citizens to carry concealed weapons.

So, perhaps there’s room for a reasonable and rational debate, rather than the sarcastic lambasting LaPierre received from NBC’s David Gregory.

But we don’t do reasonable and rational very well these days. Instead, we react emotionally. We seize on things such as nomenclature.

A so-called “assault rifle” by today’s popular (and statutory) definition would most certainly not be my weapon of choice if I were about to engage in a full-frontal military “assault” against an enemy. I’d much prefer to have something will full-automatic function – a weapon which private U.S. citizens have been prohibited from owning for some 78 years now.

Not that the prohibition has kept outlaws, from Mafia gangsters in post-World War II New York to 21st century “gangstas” in Newark, from obtaining and wantonly using them.

On Monday of last week, another heinous crime was committed in the Northeast when a convicted killer lured firefighters to the scene of a house engulfed in flames and then shot four of them, killing two.

The Associated Press noted in its report that it’s the second Christmas in a row that the middle-class lakeside community of Webster, N.Y., has been the scene of a multiple-homicide crime. On Dec. 7, 2011, a 15-year-old boy doused his family’s home with gasoline and set it on fire, killing his father and two brothers. His mother and sister escaped.

Two tragic, horrifying incidents in the same community, one year apart, both involving arson, one of them involving gunfire as well; guess what the debate is about. (Hint: It has nothing to do with proposals to ban or restrict access to gasoline or matches.)

When concern escalates to desperation, the results are seldom positive. The mentality of “do something, even if you do it wrong” usually produces something that is, in fact, “wrong,” especially with regard to unforeseen, unintended consequences.

If we insist on calling these semi-automatic pieces “assault weapons” and we ban them, it may make some of us feel better. Some of us may be able to look in the mirror and smile sadly and say, “Well, we did something.”

But it won’t make us any safer, because antisocial, psychotic and evil people are among us. They always have been, and they always will be.

And it is those people that constitute the problem. Their weapons of choice are largely irrelevant.

There’s enough disingenuous discourse in the public and political forums, and as Cory Booker pointed out, much of that is driven by ulterior motives.

Let’s not be guilty of the same error just because we’re angry, or scared, or desperate.
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