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To the editor:
Although only two weeks ago I was happy to see someone defend Mr. Carlson’s right to use the editorial column as a platform for his personal views, I think his recent self-styled rant regarding guns was in poor taste; it sounded like a hastily written knee-jerk reaction from the NRA rather than a sympathetic expression of a compassionate human being in the company of those dealing with a national tragedy.
While his own AR rifle, similar if not identical to the one used in Friday’s massacre, may “have nothing on a much more innocuous looking gun I use to hunt deer,” it is still capable of being set to deliver three-shot bursts (poor sportsmanship in hunting, and murderous when turned on people) and can be made fully automatic with only a rubber band, as a video on youtube.com demonstrates.
The pro-gun response to the Sandy Hook massacre, has brought us everything from “arm the teachers” to “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” We live in a community where guns are an important part of the culture, so we should all be thinking about what we can do to keep something like this tragedy from happening again.
I do not think the high ground in the discussion is to be found in belittling the opinions of those who see a need for intelligent gun reform. The statistics show how badly we need to reduce the use of guns by coldly calculating felons, as well as by teenagers whose lives are so out of his control they can only strike out at others.
As for the first response to Sandy Hook — protecting the schools by arming our teachers — my thoughts are that no teacher can exemplify the values I want my children learning when he or she is carrying a deadly weapon.
And the teacher would have to carry it; leaving it in a desk drawer invites theft, and locking in that drawer puts it out of reach in the emergency for which it is needed.
Regardless of anything else said or done, the message heard by children too young to comprehend the complexity of the situation would be, “Everything you’ve seen on TV is true. This is the best and surest way to protect yourself. I carry a gun, and you should, too.”
Soon the gun becomes the primary instrument of conflict resolution, which it sadly already is in too many of our cities, and gun violence spirals out of control in schools around the country.
As for the other extreme, yes, it is people, not the guns, that kill people. But people with guns can do more effective killing, at a distance, in far less time than those without them. Let’s face it; the only way to make guns less available to the criminal or the psychotic is to make them less available to all of us. This calls for a sacrifice on the part of those who cherish their weaponry, but we all make sacrifices — give up some of our liberties — in the interest of the greater good of our society.
But short of divesting ourselves of our arms caches, there are other things to do:
1. Keep your weapons under your own control. Lock your guns up and conceal the key. Keep the ammunition in a separate place. If you or anyone in the house has trouble with anger or depression, put the key in a lockbox at the bank so that getting at your guns is impossible to do on an impulse.
2. Understand, and teach your teenagers to understand, that the typical juvenile brain has not developed the areas that are responsible for controlling impulses. This is a fact of physiology. Put another way, in people under the age of about 22, acting rashly is the norm (as most parents have always suspected). Help your children by making it impossible for them to act on dangerous impulses. Adam Lanza, if he had lived to be 30, would have been grateful.
3. Teach your kids that, despite the example hammered into them on commercial television, violence does not solve problems; it only creates them. It is the weak and stupid man’s way of prevailing. Carrying a gun does not mean you are big and strong. It means you are too dumb to think of a better way, so try harder.”
Hammonds Creek Road