Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook Reprise

More than a bit long winded here, but to those who took exception to my blog of yesterday "Sandy Hook and the UASS" - here is a more detailed and studied insight into the aftermath of this tragedy. And know, I am not a NRA shill.

Okay, everyone take a deep breath.  The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut was absolutely horrific and my heart breaks for the parents that suffered what is an immeasurable loss.  But in the aftermath, let’s not get sucked into the media feeding frenzy where the talking heads are competing with the grandstanding politicians for airtime to further their own agendas.  Let’s actually sit back and analyze where the system failed us, and how we could have prevented this tragedy rather than participate in the predictable, simplistic and preposterously illogical knee jerk liberal response that we know is forthcoming.  Within minutes of the breaking news of yet another inexplicable mass shooting Carolyn McCarthy was firmly planted on her soapbox, characteristically shrill in proposing bans of everything from squirt guns to slingshots whilst Mayor Bloomberg was off on a yet another rant about circumventing human nature by removing any potentially harmful inanimate object from the face of the earth.  As usual, damn the facts and to hell with the statistics because government knows best.  The simpletons continue to strap on the blinders, mistake ignorance for perspective and preach that the elimination of the instrument of death will cure the lust for taking a life that resides within the beast.  As if removing guns will prevent murder. Removing automobiles will prevent car accidents.  Removing alcohol will prevent drunk driving.  Removing cigarettes will prevent lung cancer.  Removing drugs will prevent addiction.  Or perhaps removing politicians will prevent stupidity.  After all, prohibition went so well and the war on drugs has been such a roaring success. But I digress.  The system failed us on multiple fronts and more gun control laws will not correct it.  The problem here is people.  People are flawed.  People do stupid, incomprehensible things.  Take Congress, for example.  Progressively whittling away our freedoms by imposing more laws, regulations, bans and instituting a police state is a cure far worse than the disease. As I see it, Connecticut is not even remotely close to being a gun owner’s paradise with its highly restrictive gun laws, onerous penalties for illegal possession and requirements for a permit. It is unlikely, however, that our mentally skewed perpetrator was at all concerned with any of Connecticut’s restrictive gun laws, the most laughable of which being the feel good measure of declaring an elementary school a “gun free zone”.  Oooooooh, there’s a deterrent.  The initial breakdown in this case was simply a matter of access.  The fact remains that the dear departed Mrs. Lanza legally owned this small collection of firearms.  Why she owned them is immaterial and the talking heads should just shut up about a subject that they clearly know nothing about.  One female pundit droned on about the Bushmaster .223 rifle that “only belongs in a war zone”. That may play well with the Starbucks liberals, but to those of us who actually know something about firearms, you sound like an idiot.  Shut up.  With great power, comes great responsibility, and it is here that she failed us.  Although Mrs. Lanza legally purchased these firearms (a Glock 20 10mm, a Sig-Sauer 226 9mm and the Bushmaster .223) she certainly did not demonstrate responsibility in securing them or the ammunition.  Knowing that her son was a full basket short of a picnic, it was her societal obligation to see to it that the firearms were either under lock and key or on her person. In that respect, she was irresponsible in the extreme and her failure cost her dearly.  And how is the government to react to that?  A total ban on firearms based on a mother’s indiscretion? Do we need the nanny state to conduct home inspections to see to it that firearms are secured properly?  We already have laws in some states that require purchase of a trigger lock with the purchase of a handgun.  Do we also need to require purchase of a gun safe and if so, how do we ensure the purchaser uses either one?  Do we extend the law that prevents those deemed mentally “defective” to own a firearm to entire households in which a mentally “defective” may reside?  How defective is defective and who decides that?  Do we need this level of government intrusion to make up for a lack of common sense? Hmm, maybe we need another government agency.  Another Czar perhaps.  

The second failure is the school itself.  With physical security measures in place it was apparent that they were not sufficient to discourage an individual intent on mayhem.  Where is a glass partition an effective barrier to such a single-minded assailant?  Perhaps a gatekeeper should be in place that is specifically trained or is actually some sort of security personnel.  A middle-aged office secretary or a filing clerk is not exactly suited for this level of responsibility. Now I’m not suggesting that we need another level of government bureaucracy, nor do I propose that teachers start packing heat, but the school district may consider hiring security in the form of a plainclothes officer of sorts.  The airlines did it with air marshals, why can’t we affordably do it in our schools?  I know, I know, more expenditures.  But short of educating our children inside fortresses, I see no other easy fix if this is to become the new normal.  Otherwise, our schools remain, in military parlance, soft targets.  And with new evidence suggesting that Mrs. Lanza had no relationship with the school, not taking into account some grudge the assailant may have had against said school, it appears that this is just that, a soft target.

And although all the details haven’t completely emerged on the mental status of our perpetrator, I suspect that anyone capable of this sort of thing is not of sound mind.  His brother indicated as much when he himself was mistakenly accused, and some reports have leaked from teachers that this kid wasn’t right.  But where were our mental health professionals?  Granted, the government has once again hobbled the medical profession’s ability to effectively communicate with the introduction of HIPAA, thanks largely to the efforts of Hillary Clinton’s pandering to the HIV infected gay community, a piece of legislation that makes the failure to identify the mentally defective in our society an unfortunate by product of a patient’s right to privacy.  But in light of the most recent mass murders, Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech and now Newtown, a more vigilant mental health community may be in order with enhanced abilities to identify and track these beasts among us.

But the gun control advocates will drone on, using Europe, their current model for fiscal responsibility as their model for gun control.  Why is it, they ask, that the US has the highest rate of gun violence amongst developed nations?  Why is it that the US is ranked 12th in the world for gun violence (9 deaths per 100K) as compared to the United Kingdom who is ranked 65th (0.25 deaths per 100K)?  Cue the liberals: It must be due to England’s total ban on guns.  If that is the case, then why does Mexico, with a similar ban on all firearms rank #9 with 11.4 deaths per 100 thousand?  If you follow the US government’s flawed and apparently fabricated logic, then it is Mexico’s unfortunate proximity to the US that is at fault, after all didn’t “Fast and Furious” prove that Mexico’s gun source is the US?  Oops, never mind.  But if that is really the truth, then how do you explain our neighbor to the north, Canada?  They rank 18th with 4.78 deaths per 100 thousand.  And if the US is 12th, then who ranks in the top three?  Answer:  El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras in that order with El Salvador at a whopping 50 deaths per 100 thousand.   Interestingly, South and Central America are disproportionately represented with 12 of the top 25 spots, and 8 of the top ten. Could it actually be demographics or culture that is responsible for gun violence?  What is the actual make-up of the populations of countries with high versus low gun violence?  Peculiarly it would initially appear that homogeneous populations demonstrate lower rates of gun violence.  The UK at #65 and Germany at #51 have populations that are overwhelmingly European white at 86% and 88% respectively versus the US at 72.4%.  Japan, the poster child for ethnic homogeneity, has a population that is 98.5% Japanese and ranks 73rd in gun violence with a miniscule .07 per 100 thousand.  But that fails to explain the wildly high rate of gun violence in Central and South America, countries that are fairly homogeneous in their ethnicity, and their overrepresentation in the top ten.  Could it be culture alone, where America’s proximity to Central America’s Latin population, and with a 16.4% Hispanic population of her own, is skewing the statistics?  Is it coincidental that these countries are associated with high rates of drug trafficking? And what about population in terms of numbers.  We have 350 million people as compared to the UK at 65 million, and Germany at 81 million inhabitants.  But we are a large land mass, with violence tending to be located in the proximity of major metropolitan areas.  What Germany does not have is the sea of population density we have in the northeast corridor, the rust belt and California with such highlights as New York City, LA, Washington DC, Chicago and Detroit where, despite draconian gun laws, gun violence is extraordinarily high. But population density alone fails to explain why the extraordinarily dense populations found in Asia such as Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have such a low incidence of gun violence.  And to further complicate matters, we can divide gun violence into two categories: the type of crime related gun violence with well-established motive, be it robbery, drugs or turf wars and then this psychopathic mass murder rampage, statistically lower in incidence, but where the motives are less clear.  The psychopathic carnage seems to reach across cultural divides, having been found this century in Scotland, Finland, England, Russia, China, Africa and Germany, to name a few, with the vast majority of the school shooters committing suicide.  The US is well represented, but again, with 350 million people, you would expect as much, if not more.  Despite our best efforts, as with terrorism, it remains extraordinarily difficult to keep the weapon of destruction out of the hands of an assailant intent on mayhem with no regard for his own well-being.  Indeed, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”.  (Thomas Jefferson)

Banning assault weapons, an exercise in esthetics alone, and a ban on large capacity magazines remain popular with the democrats but are largely ineffective beyond  feel good measures to make it appear that they are doing something.  In fact, assault weapons are difficult to conceal and mostly appear to be the weapon of choice for the rampage style assailant intent on video game style carnage.  They remain statistically insignificant in their use in crime overall and if banned, their firepower can be had with similar caliber weapons, albeit with lesser volume magazines.  Recall that the assault weapon used here was a .223, a round originally designed for varmint control, but was adopted by the military due to it’s smaller size, enabling the soldier to tote more rounds and experience a lesser recoil.  Our standard issue .30-06 in World War Two by comparison was a much more imposing projectile. The concern by the law-abiding gun owner is that once an assault weapons ban proves useless, the government will proceed with more restrictive bans in the name of public safety.  What started as a ban on military style arms in the UK, progressed to pistols, rifles, shotguns and finally air guns in that order.  The NRA likes to refer to it as “the camel’s nose under the tent”, and they have global historical precedent to back that assertion. But disarming the law-abiding has proven to be a bonanza only for the lawless.  England’s crimes involving a firearm shot up 400% after the gun ban was imposed, immediately turning the populace into………..yes, soft targets.  Although statistics are contested in the US, it appears that states with higher rates of concealed carry have lower incidents of crime, an effect that may be explained by author Robert Heinlein that “an armed society is a polite society”.  The popular quote that “God created man and Samuel Colt made them equal” should resonate with women who, when faced with a physically imposing, and most likely male assailant, can instantaneously level the playing field. Do we really prefer to cower in fear waiting for that 911 call to produce a police force that the Supreme Court has already ruled has no obligation to protect the citizenry? Ask LA’s Korean shop owners during the Rodney King riots how that worked out for them.

But recall that the Second Amendment is not in place for our own personal protection from our fellow man, rather to protect the people from government tyranny.  And as the world spins out of control with governments asserting their authority over their subjects, missiles tested in the sea of Japan while the North Korean people starve, Syria in the midst of civil war under a regime with stockpiles of sarin gas, an Iranian government intent on nuclear ambitions, or the recent vote by the International Telecommunications Union (where 193 UN member countries approved a treaty to allow government) to restrict access to the internet, is there any better time to applaud the wisdom of the Second Amendment?  As George Mason said in 1788: “To disarm the people….was the best and most effectual way to enslave them”  Smart men those Founding Fathers.  “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people, there is liberty”  (Thomas Jefferson).  Take note.

But what is it about these recent twenty-somethings that when unhinged, find it necessary to commit mass murder?  Why is this becoming accepted as a product of our times, when this sort of thing was virtually unheard of a few of decades ago?  Mr. Swift recalls growing up with a loaded rifle at the back door for critter control, never once considering picking it up after a stern warning by parents.  Why, with firearms so prevalent in the post-war years, didn’t we hear of our youth rampaging through Woolworth’s with a wanton disregard for life?  With so much emphasis on gun ownership as a social stigma by the left why are we seeing so much gun violence, particularly in those blue states where gun control is so stringent? Could it be that the baby boomer generation, arguably the worst generation of parents that America has produced, a self-absorbed generation of over achievers with a 50% rate of divorce, has produced a generation of children, a higher percentage of which is without direction, without a moral compass?  These kids are only now coming of age, raised in day care, shuttled between disgruntled parents, pampered to the extreme, and rarely told “no” as that would interfere with the little “quality time” that their parents have substituted for quantity of time.  Plopped in front of the television and fed a steady diet of violence, sex and video games where points are awarded for jacking cars, shooting prostitutes, or graphically disemboweling your enemy, are we breeding a generation susceptible to sociopathology?  It’s all about me, my facebook page, my tweets, my music, my gaming, all my exaggerated accomplishments, in a world skewed to expect reward for just showing up.  After all, everyone gets a trophy. And government is not helping.  A steady diet from the left about the evil rich having taken what is rightfully yours, you not having worked for any of it notwithstanding, and the vilifying of the successful, the 1% for not paying their fair share, your fair share. Witness the vitriolic, personal attacks from the left on conservative candidates and the steady stream of vile ideologue-driven distaste for the tea party, a group of conservatives who as far as I can see appears to be a bunch of old patriotic white folks in baggy trousers. Class warfare is alive and well and it is being waged by an angry self-absorbed youth, intent on proving that it’s not their fault, while laying claim to that which is not theirs. It has been well documented that this generation is failing to develop people skills, having honed their ability to communicate through texting and emails.  What happens when they confront failure, when they are told no, when they finally realize that they are not the popular, attractive, genius that their parents have told them they are for twenty some odd years?   For most, their bolts are sufficiently tightened that they have an epiphany, they reset, they dial down the youthful exuberance and they develop those skills to survive in the modern day workplace.  But for some, why, you fall back on the only conflict resolution you have ever been exposed to:  violence.  We are failing our youth in this regard and gun bans will not correct our failure.  Just for a moment, let’s try actual parenting.  Now there’s hope and change.

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