Thursday, December 20, 2012

Knives and Forks Don't Kill People. People Kill People.

I often say that my husband is a walking argument for gun control legislation. In Chicago in the mid 1960’s, he and a couple of his friends were attacked by a much larger group of boys while walking home from a high school football game. The larger group had brass knuckles and knocked out three of his teeth. This remains a horrible memory of his teenage years that he remarks on every time we pass the scene of the crime. Nevertheless, he’s around to relive it because none of the boys who attacked him had guns.

Gun proponents often say that guns don’t kill people. People kill people. To some degree, this is true. Yet how many of the 26 people including those 20 young children would still be alive in Newton, Connecticut if Adam Lanza had charged into Sandy Hook School with a knife, brass knuckles, or a bow and arrow? Perhaps he would have managed to kill or seriously wound one or two people before being subdued, but in all likelihood, the others would not have been harmed.

Gun proponents say that we have to make mental health services more accessible and that's the root of the problem. To some extent, I agree, but I don’t think that’s the whole answer. Even if everyone who needed counseling and/or medication and/or other community support were to receive all the needed help, someone would fall through the cracks. Someone receiving help who wasn’t yet stable or someone who needed but didn’t seek help could still do what Adam Lanza did. Even with an almost perfect mental health system, occasionally people would fly under the radar.

Adam Lanza killed with guns that were legally registered to one of his parents. Now it’s come out in the New York Times that he and his mother regularly visited a shooting gallery both alone and together. People will ask how she could have missed what was right before her eyes, but that is often the case. It’s much easier to see other people’s problems more clearly than our own. To make sure that such shortsightedness doesn’t result in more carnage, we have to  make it more difficult for many civilians to have guns. By the way, do hunters kill deer with submachine guns? I am realistic enough to know that gun ownership will always remain sacred to some Americans, but we have to be able to agree on some reasonable restrictions. Maybe it is treating the symptoms of our violence-oriented society, but until we can turn that around, we need to treat the symptoms. I hope we do it soon before we're all mourning for more victims yet again.


Mark said...

Extremely lucid and cogently argued. It is (regrettably) true that "guns will always remain sacred" to an appallingly large number of Americans, though I would characterize them more as objects of thanatophile fetishism, than artifacts of religious worship. The scary fact of the matter, I suppose, though, is that they're both. This is a society that, collectively, massively fails the Milgram. I wish I knew, Lisa, what could ever be done about it. I do like your blog, though!

Mark (from GR LP)

Lisa Sachs said...

Thanks, Mark. Hopefully we'll find a way to curb the violence that has become epidemic in our country.