Like most people, the shooting of the children last week made me shudder. Only a few of Robeson’s elementary schools match up with the ages of that ill-fated school in Connecticut (K to 4th grade); Tanglewood is one of them. Having had three children there at the same time, I now realize that had a tragedy befallen the school, it would have been akin to the Fighting Sullivans in World War II. When the USS Juneau sank in 1942, it took the five Sullivan brothers to their graves. The military was not supposed to allow so many family members to serve together and this reinforced that notion.
I saw a couple of interesting quotes on the subject of gun use. On an average day in the United States, guns are used to kill almost 80 people and to wound 300 more. It was noted that if any other consumer product had this sort of disastrous effect, it would have invoked a public outcry. Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times more likely to be murdered with guns compared with children in other industrialized countries. David Hemenway said, “The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns.”
The Second Amendment was written at a time when you shot your musket, loaded powder, rammed down a ball and fired again — that was as rapid as it got. If we still used that approach, these numbers of victims could not occur. The weapon used in Newtown, whether fully automatic or semi-automatic, has no place outside of a war zone. Unless the deer and other animals have developed some offensive firepower that I am unaware of, of what earthly good is this weapon with a 30-round magazine?
I have not shot a weapon since Vietnam. I own a double-barreled shotgun that my Dad passed down to me. It sits in a closet. The shells are in a different room. If there is an invasion of some kind, I am going to need a few minutes warning so I can have a functioning weapon. I have no problems with weapons being used for hunting or recreation, but weapons such as an M-16, AK47 and the like must be banned for civilian use. What may be advocated for in the gun violence debate is using the public health approach — prevention over punishment, which has been proven to be successful in reducing rates of injury and death from infectious disease, car accidents and tobacco consumption
It had been reported that the murderer had slight autism. The accounts of the event were all over the board — the mother was a teacher, the killer was 24, etc. — so I am not sure what is true. Much of this is in the rush to get information out, any source is better than no source. But if autism played a part, studies have shown that two-thirds of the children with autism had severe tantrums and one-third had tantrums and aggression. This condition has gone from a 1 in 110 occurrence to 1 in 88. Mental health issues are escalating while funding is on the down escalator at the mall. This whole issue has several parts that will need to be addressed.