In a manner reminiscent of the mother of Emmett Till, Noah Pozner’s mother takes the governor of Connecticut to view her son in his open casket, so the governor can see that little Noah’s entire jaw had been blown completely off of his face, as his head and body were pummeled with 11 of Adam Lanza’s bullets. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signs legislation that toughens New York State’s gun laws. In it, the entire population of mental health professionals are tasked with predicting violent behavior among mentally ill people – something that subspecialists with many years of training and experience find exceedingly difficult to do, with only 70% accuracy. The NRA vows to wage the “fight of the century” to prevent the enactment of even those gun control laws that large majorities of America’s gun owners and NRA members support. As part of that fight, the organization creates a tacky and cowardly ad that shamelessly drags the Obama children into a political debate that should have nothing to do with them. A belligerent man releases a video of himself threatening that he’s going to “start killing people” if anyone attempts to take away his guns under any kind of new gun control laws. In so doing, he proves himself to be exactly the kind of unstable fanatic that should never have been allowed within 100 yards of a gun – a living, breathing argument for universal background checks and stricter gun control laws. It’s obvious – we as a nation are still devastated by the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month; and we are desperately flailing around, trying to find answers that will prove to be neither as simple nor as fast as we want them to be.
As our President reminded us yesterday, in the month since the Sandy Hook Massacre, 900 more Americans have died as a result of gun violence. In that same month, NRA membership has increased sharply, and teachers all over America are rushing to obtain firearms and learn how to use them – presumably while they are at school teaching children. Perhaps at some point someone will remind them that the presence of armed guards at Columbine High School did nothing to prevent the vicious mass murders by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Tragically, it has taken the senseless slaughter of 20 beautiful little children at a Newtown Connecticut elementary school to move our nation to focus on some of our sickest tendencies. We glorify violence, and we have found ever more graphic ways to depict it in every kind of media and gaming system we have. We have distorted our Constitution in order to elevate the right of a civilian citizen to own, conceal and use an assault weapon of war over the right of a civilian citizen to be safe from mass murder. And we continue to allow too many of our citizens to suffer with devastating mental illnesses because it’s simply not cheap enough or expedient enough to provide them the treatment they need.
In some strange ways it is almost a relief that pro-gun psychopaths are stooping to idiotically desperate tactics to try to protect their perceived self-interests. It indicates that we are finally in the midst of a serious discussion of sensible measures to protect our children. And we won’t be deterred by TV ads that cross the line of decency or threats by the lunatic fringe. Still, we will only get a handle on this problem if we address all of the factors that created it. We must stop showcasing gratuitously graphic violence in our mass media and in our video games and feeding it to our children, teens and adults. We must do something about our failure to take care of our citizens with mental illness. And we must decrease the ridiculous surplus of guns in our society. I believe the correct answer to this difficult problem is: “All of the Above.”