BEIJING — A knife-wielding man injured 22 children and one adult outside a primary school in central China as students were arriving for classes Friday, police said, the latest in a series of periodic rampage attacks at Chinese schools and kindergartens. Huffington Post 12/14/2012
CONNECTICUT —A 20-year-old man wearing combat gear and armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle killed 26 people — 20 of them children — in an attack in an elementary school in central Connecticut on Friday. Witnesses and officials described a horrific scene as the gunman, with brutal efficiency, chose his victims in two classrooms while other students dove under desks and hid in closets. NY Times, 12/15/2012
Sometimes to think clearly we must compare and contrast “who we are” with “who we think we are”. To the average American, if you compare Beijing and Connecticut when discussing freedom, most people would say Americans enjoy a much freer existence.
As the opening news stories demonstrate, both societies produce monsters, so neither society can claim freedom from monsters. But American monsters, equipped with military-grade weapons, are quite powerful. In other cultures, where monsters can only access much less lethal weapons, they are not so powerful. So in one limited view of freedom, Beijing looks superior if safety from monsters with military-style weapons is considered a form of freedom.
For those who say that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” it is obvious that some guns are better designed to kill a lot of people. If we eliminated all guns it would limit the monster substantially, but maybe we don’t need to go there. We do need to go somewhere on the continuum from eliminating all guns to at least eliminating assault weapons in the hands of the insane.
Some counter that the answer is more guns – with the argument that “if we all carried guns this mutually assured destruction would protect us all”. But I wonder how that would have helped the kindergartners in Connecticut?
What about the theater in Aurora? Picture a crowded pitch-black theater when the monster enters and fires his automatic weapon. With a fully armed society, everyone would take out their weapons and begin firing at each other, as the monster gleefully watches the armed citizens kill each other. That’s mutually assured destruction, but I don’t think it’s gives us freedom.
This is all very personal to me. My great nephew took his pregnant girlfriend and her six-year-old daughter and his cousin, a 13-year-old girl, to the midnight debut of Batman. The monster shot him in the side of the face as he jumped over his cousin, saving her life. The monster then shot his pregnant girlfriend and murdered her six-year-old daughter. The girlfriend is now a quadriplegic with a bullet lodged against her spinal cord, and she lost the unborn baby. My great nephew has recovered physically, but for him and the 13-year-old girl the nightmares remain. Should he have brought along a 9 mm and a couple of clips to go with the popcorn?
If we look back at Portland, Virginia Tech, and the many shootings that have occurred between Columbine and today you’ll notice that the monsters never attack police stations, military installations or armed guards. People who attack armed groups do it for political or financial reasons. They may be freedom fighters, would-be dictators, or thieves – but they are not monsters that attack the innocent purely from insanity.
We have effective ways to protect ourselves from the politically or criminally motivated murderers in our society. What we don’t have is a way to protect people from the destabilized, demented, and crazy monsters that lurk in shadows. Those who argue against gun control are really arguing against freedom for Americans; the freedom to go out in public without worrying about heavily-armed insane individuals attacking us with military weapons. Making weapons of warfare available to ordinary citizens does not help us defend our national sovereignty. It also doesn’t help people defend their homes or freedom of movement, as more traditional weapons are more than sufficient to accomplish this task. What it does do is put these weapons in the hands of demented and crazy monsters that emerge only to kill.
Balancing rights is never an easy task partly because all of our rights are interwoven. When you have a right it’s there for you because others support it by exercising their rights to vote, to assemble, to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. As a society we must reweave the fabric of our rights to protect us all. Let’s make a “Newtown” to honor the one desecrated. This would lead us to create a new social contract between legitimate gun owners under the second amendment and the society as a whole. This would close the circle around the innocent children and others to protect them. It is time to build that, “ New Town.”