Sandy Hook Shooting Aftermath: Society, Politics and What Happens Next
Posted by MichaelGroff on December 18, 2012 | Filed under Podcasts
The nation is still reeling following Friday’s horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The tragic incident claimed the lives of 27 individuals (including the shooter) among which 20 were children. Funerals began today across Newtown, an otherwise quiet community now left with families in ruin and overwhelmed with media, outrage and more questions than answers.
The bigger issues are now coming into focus and the obvious questions must be addressed; how could this happen? who would do such an unspeakable act? what aspects of society need to be examined/altered to prevent such incidents? what political ramifications will there be as a result? These and other issues are on the table and it may take years to sort through the details to arrive at the answers.
Three points are very clear already in the wake of the latest in a string of violent mass murder-suicides…
First, this Connecticut community will never be the same again; families torn asunder, a community rocked and the memories of what occurred on Friday can and will never be forgotten. Any loss of life is a tragedy but something stings a bit more within many of us when the innocence of children becomes violated by the corrupting force of society.
A serious examination into the mental health of our society needs to be done immediately. Before enacting any additional legislation we, as a society, need to engage in a serious discussion with significant reform as to how we handle the mentally ill among us. Better care for those predisposed to have mental illness or those whom exhibit signs at an early age. As it is now our solutions are only extremes that resolve a handful of the problems; we either ignore mentally ill with the idea that if they are left alone they will leave us alone. Of course the alternative is that the U.S. seems fixated upon pumping as many pharmaceutical psychotropic drugs down the throats of our children as possible—a disturbing trend with unknown and potentially dire consequences that we may now be realizing. The United States leads the world in the number of children taking psychotropic medication and we have been at the forefront of this danger trend for more than 30 years.
Naturally, there are other factors which may contribute to furthering the mentally ill. Our culture is filled with inflammatory, violent, sexual and/or otherwise potentially dangerous influences that are a playground for various personality disorders. The rise of the narcissist from various social media outlets and the ubiquitous nature of the internet gives an open forum for anonymous, unchecked behavior among youths. Video games, movies, images and other communications in irresponsible hands can shape individuals with existing personality disorders into dangerous animals. A society that turns their collective backs on all of this simply furthers the development of these types of scenarios. This isn’t to blame video games, movies, TV, the internet or any other medium that 99.99% of responsible people utilize regularly, rather it is to point out it’s risks for those that we ignore.
Finally, the calls for political action are well underway. The conversations about gun control, assault weapon bans and even those who advocate banning all personal firearms have initiated their inevitable discourse. Based upon the current climate in Washington and with such a tragedy looming so closely it is nearly a foregone conclusion that some type of assault weapon ban will be implemented in the weeks ahead. Such a ban is not a matter of opinion or constitutionality it is simply what we can realistically anticipate in the near future from elected officials reacting to strong public outcry.
If we are to have a conversation about gun control it is important that we do so in the context of realism and what can be honestly expected. Those few that would proclaim “ban all guns!” are living deep within a fantasy world unable to understand the impossibility of their statement. Based upon figures from the Department of Justice, FBI and pollsters at least 25% of all Americans own a firearm. In total there are 300 to 400 million privately owned guns in the United States. Banning all guns is, by the numbers and resources needed to do so, an impossible goal. Not to mention that a majority of Americans support the right for citizens to be able to keep some type of firearm to protect themselves.
What good does an assault weapon ban actually do? This is a question not based on opinion either, but rather a realistic look at the situation based upon the statistics noted above. It is unknown precisely how many so-called “assault weapons” exist in the United States but estimates from various sources range from 40 to 80 million. This amount obviously varies depending upon the definition one uses for “assault weapon”. If all assault weapons were banned tomorrow it would curtail to a large extent new weapons from being manufactured and/or brought into the country, however what about the existing tremendous cache of high powered weapons? Does such a ban realistically stop people from owning them? Will it stop a criminal from obtaining them? These are realistic questions we should ask before passing legislation.
Perhaps congress needs to understand that merely banning something doesn’t make it go away, nor does it make it less attractive to mentally unhinged individuals and/or those that wish to carry out a criminal act. For three decades we have fought a vigorous war on drugs in the United States and how has that turned out? More marijuana, cocaine, LSD, PCP and other narcotics are available today than ever before. We have strict enforcement of drug laws, but there is no means to realistically carry out such policies on a grand scale. This is so much the case that some states have wisely backed off of these aggressive policies and people have realized the folly in such anti-drug measures. Marijuana is now legal in two states and medically allowed in at least ten others. Alcohol was prohibited in the United States for a brief period in the 1920’s, how did that turn out?
Simplistic solutions that ban an instrument, item or substance represent the placement of a small bandage on a massive tumor. History has taught that sociological change, better medical care and education are much better answers than mere abolishment. Unfortunately in an instant gratification, reactionary, polarized political and sociological climate, such long-term, big picture solutions are pushed aside from the quick fix that ultimately accomplishes minimal results.
To ban guns (or certain types of guns) in this context allows the lawless to facilitate how law abiding citizens must behave when it should be the other way around.
Also on This Episode
– Don’t steal maple syrup from Canadians. Next to hockey, bacon and Bryan Adams they take their maple syrup very seriously.
– Mandatory Christmas stories part I: Man gets stuck in a chimney.
– Worst Song of the Week plus a bonus track!