Neither would, of course, do much to truly disarm the true problem. That is people — or, more correctly, what gets into their heads sometimes.
And while greatly increased mental-health vigilance and care might help reduce that problem it would hardly erase it. People are the product of the sea in which they are spawned and swim. The acceptance and approval of the violence around us in the supposed “culture” has made many gory choices appear normal, even acceptable. At minimum, it has put inside a lot of heads such actions with them often portrayed as acceptable solutions to problems.
Even those who wept when little children on seeing “Bambi” when the fawn/hero’s mother was shot (off screen) nowadays can watch massive faked mayhem and blood spurting in movies, on television, in video games without shedding a tear.
There is as little chance of that being wiped out, due to the First Amendment, as there is of guns being outlawed as the Second forbids.
ALSO LITTLE understood is that there just are a lot more Americans nowadays, greatly increasing the potential for both good … and evil. Back in 1892 when the national “shocker” was the later acquitted Lizzie Borden supposedly giving her father and mother “forty whacks” with a hatchet (nobody tried to ban axes at the time) there were 63 million Americans and the news of the event travelled by telegraph to be distributed by newspapers, there then being nothing else. By the time of Sandy Hook there were more than 300 million Americans and the electronic media made all of us part of the story because “we were there.”
At best and most, although likely impossible to legislate, would be for all of us to do a better job of sensitizing ourselves and others, particularly the young, regarding the sanctity of all life. Similarly, if there are going to be possible weapons of mass slaughter around — and our households are full of them even if no guns can be found there — a better job needs to be done of learning to respect their darker potentials.
What is now almost universally disturbing us all is that Sandy Hook happened in a nice, quiet, pleasant, desirable place to live … a whole lot like Greater Rome and most other communities. If it could happen in Newtown, it could happen here, and while nobody wishes to suggest such a thing everyone knows it.
Nonetheless, here, there and everywhere guns are not the problem so much as some of the people who have or can get them. Those same types, whether driven by political motives or mental mirages, are perfectly capable of inflicting massive casualties without firearms.
The World Trade Center was brought down with commandeered airliners; the federal building in Oklahoma City with farm fertilizer. An explosive more powerful than dynamite is sold without need for a permit, and in unlimited quantity, at dozens of sites locally. It is called gasoline. Every household contains cleaning products easily turned into incendiary devices. Pretty much everyone has a car that, if aimed with deliberate slaughter in mind, can mow down a lot of pedestrians.
THE WORLD, particularly the more available man’s clever inventions become, is not a safe place and guns are a very minor part of this. Indeed, like kitchen knives, they are typically more dangerous in spur-of-the-moment rages caused by emotions than in planned attacks. It is the isolated mind detached from normal society, or desperate to seek approval from a small cabal of like-minded peers (as in suicide bombers) that inflict casualties on larger scales.
That is the sort of problem on which one needs psychiatrists to guide us, not politicians.
As for increased protection at the schools, whether it is by armed teachers/administrators as some propose or by an added law-enforcement presence (and taxes/cost), the grim reality is that this actually would, at best, only work to reduce the degree of any possible mayhem, not the mayhem itself.
It may deter comparatively sane evildoers, assuming such exist, but it will do little to stop true nut cases less likely to appear on the spur of the moment and more likely — as at Newtown or the Aurora (Colo.) movie theater — to have planned what they intend to do without even considering the possibility of getting away. They would just figure out when an officer is on one side of a school, which tend to be very large places, and start shooting at the other end.
Things are not what make the world unsafe — not even guns. It is what goes on in the heads of some people, particularly those who largely live inside them and/or feel isolated/neglected by society.
That guns are often used is actually less important to note than that those scripting these mass-murder scenarios — one can go all the way back to Charles Manson — almost always appear to be white, male, young … and unusually intelligent. Those are pretty hard elements to ban.
ABOUT THE WISEST words heard on the “what do we do now?” topic thus far came Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, when she said that in her view school safety was predominantly a local issue rather than a state or federal one. Indeed, the problem with “control” of anything is when it is imposed from the outside, by those far removed from where those in our readership circle live. One would hope all communities feel the same way about such matters.
Rep. Dempsey added: “I know it’s a good time to look at everyone’s safety plans, from small businesses to schools.” Which is what is occurring in Rome and Floyd County currently although nobody is going to need to mandate increased vigilance and response training. That is a given and, thankfully, does not need to go through a legislative process.
Additionally, beyond the law-enforcement presence already existing daily in area high schools, now coming on line as part of the new emergency radio network wisely approved by taxpayers is inclusion of all schools in an “instant alert” system. That’s something Newtown did not have.
How much could or should be done? That’s for this community to determine … and be willing to deal with extra taxes to provide if necessary. Banning guns, axes or fertilizer would be window dressing, not new and heavier bars across the doors to keep out what are obviously mentally disturbed individuals that have fallen between the cracks in a detection/prevention health system that in reality barely exists at all.