I received two polar opposite comments on my blog about guns and the tragedy at Northern Illinois University. The comments are below. What do you think? Add your voice to this discussion by clicking on the reply icon below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know if I can use your comment in this blog.
The first comment:
“As I drove in my car Thursday my first thought after the gut wrenching news hit, was that this is the time for sensible Americans to rise up in an election year and demand that gun control be an issue that is designated as one that we want addressed by the next person to sit in the Oval Office, along with the next Congress. …As a result of the political actions of the NRA who seem content to allow as many guns in as many hands as possible, there are dead college kids at Northern Illinois University. … Families are preparing to look for coffins for their kids due to the selfish gun owners that make up the NRA, and seem to think their supposed right to own handguns supersedes the safety of the majority of their fellow citizens.”
The opposite comment:
“You focus on the “gun” part of the problem, without addressing the “mentally unstable” cause of the problem. It’s intellectually unfair for you to ask for solutions, while appearing to predetermine without real consideration that eliminating the tool is the manner in which solutions will happen. The worst school violence in American history … was done by a single upset individual with bombs, not guns. Recent mass killings in schools in China and Japan were carried out with knives. …Unstable people who want to act violently will find ways to flaunt their violence. Whether they use stolen guns, black-market guns, homemade explosives, arson, poisonings, knives, swords, or hammers and screwdrivers, they will find a way to hurt people. …It’s time we stop blaming “things” for our problems and start addressing the mental health gaps and cultural shortcomings that cause someone to desire to do such a thing in the first place.”
Well, I do agree with the latter writer to the extent that we have a long way to go in this nation when it comes to addressing mental health issues honestly and directly. However, the comment also underscores a plain fact: the human psyche is a wonderful and terrible thing, able to commit acts of great good and great violence. Each day teaches us new lessons about the deterioration of good people into violent demons. Predictions and profiles are imperfect. The “model citizen” has as much capacity for violence as that scary-looking guy across the street who might actually be on his way to tutor children.
Knowing all that we do about the human potential for violence, and knowing that, among all weapons, guns are the preferred contemporary tool for murderous conduct, why does a government that won’t let citizens smoke indoors or drive without seatbelts look the other way when the tools of homicide are freely available on the internet or the shop up the street? Note that the NIU gunman Steven Kazmierczak bought his rifle legally the same day he committed murder, and also patronized the same internet gun dealer as Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech. While reports after-the-fact piece together profiles of deeply disturbed individuals, the simple fact remains that they were both able to buy guns easily, cheaply and legally.