The morning of Friday, December 14, 2012 began like any other day in the quiet, picturesque community of Newtown, Connecticut. Parents took their children to school, people prepared for their workday, and everyone anticipated the coming weekend with Christmas a few short weeks away. However, the whole world knows that this day would not be like any other day, for what would occur at the local elementary school on this pre-winter day was entirely unthinkable and unimaginable. Most of us remember where we were when the news broke that a sick, deranged individual entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and began his deadly assault on totally unsuspecting victims. By the time the carnage ended, 26 innocent people lie dead – 20 of them were the most vulnerable and innocent of our society, our children. Six brave teachers and administrators, who gave their lives in a quest to save the children, also perished this day. The arsenal of guns that this individual possessed astounded many. How does a person with the kind of health issues he was dealing with garner these kinds of weapons? Unfortunately, one reason was an irresponsible parent who taught him how to use them. Another is the ease to which guns are available in our society, as well as the types of weapons available on the market in this country. Does the average person need to own an assault rifle or a semiautomatic weapon? No, I do not believe they do and this is something that I find truly disturbing.
GUN VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES: THE ALARMING STATISTICS
In 2011, there were 32,000 firearm related deaths in the U.S.; 11,000 of them were homicides caused by gun violence. To place this statistic into some perspective, consider this: in England and Wales there are approximately 50 homicides related to gun violence per year. According to a recent study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime titled “Global Burden of Armed Violence”, 60% of all homicides result from the use of a firearm. In the U.S. where access to guns is greater, the murder-rate is higher as a result. The gun homicide rate in the U.S. is 30 times greater than in other developed countries such as France and Australia. In 1996, Australia enacted a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons resulting in a 59% decrease in firearm related homicides. Why is there such a wide discrepancy in the level of violence in the U.S. versus other nations such as Great Britain and Japan? It is clear when one takes a closer look at the research that these nations have much stricter laws and controls on guns than the U.S. Again, why would the U.S., after the tragedy we all just witnessed in Newtown, not want tighter measures and access to guns in this country? Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are beholden to one very powerful lobby group – the National Rifle Association.
NRA RESPONSE TO NEWTOWN TRAGEDY MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE
One week or so following the deadly shooting in Newtown, the leader of the gun lobby Wayne LaPierre, conducted his own press conference to speak about the recent events. Many of the young victims, brave teachers and administrators had not been laid to rest when this individual called for the posting of armed guards in every school in the U.S. This is his idea of a sensible gun policy? What he proposed, in my opinion, defies rational thinking. The solution to our gun problem in this country is not having armed guards posted in our childrens’ schools. The sight of our young ones seeing an armed guard in their school each day is incomprehensible. It is truly shameful that these words were uttered. Moreover, who will pay for his proposal? According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the cost associated with placing officers in each school amounts to approximately $18 billion. Will the NRA pay these costs? No, this is highly unlikely. The NRA has no credible solutions to offer short of arming every individual in this nation. This is not a solution. It is insanity! We owe it to the victims of Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, and Virginia Tech to solve this problem of gun violence in our country.