Don't let NRA and its supporters off the hook
The Kansas City Star
Any serious response to the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut must recognize that it is much too easy in the United States for the wrong people to obtain access to the deadliest sort of weapons.
Unfortunately, we heard no such acknowledgement Friday when the National Rifle Association broke its silence about the latest gun massacre at a news conference.
Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre blamed violent video games, inadequate law enforcement efforts and the news media for the tragedy in Connecticut and others. He painted a terrifying picture of America, saying, “our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters” and asking, “…does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school at this very moment?”
LaPierre never mentioned the fact that people who are genuinely disturbed have ready access to weapons and ammunition that should only be entrusted to soldiers. His answer to the problem of too many guns was more guns. Every school in America, he said, should have an armed security guard.
Armed security isn’t a bad idea. But it certainly is no panacea. An armed sheriff’s deputy was on the grounds of Columbine High School in 1999 when a pair of gunmen murdered 12 students and one teacher. He shot twice at one of the killers but missed.
Adam Lanza, who murdered 27 people in Newtown, Conn., last week, had military-style weapons, including a rifle capable of firing about 45 rounds a minute. That sort of weaponry presents a high-stakes challenge even for an armed security officer.
And schools are not the sole targets of mass killers. What about workplaces, community centers, churches? To arm them all is to change the face of America.
True to form, a group of Missouri lawmakers responded to the Connecticut tragedy with an inappropriate bill to allow school personnel to carry concealed handguns on school property. Another bill proposes lowering the age at which one can obtain a permit for a concealed weapon from 21 to 19.
That, people, is what denial looks like.
A discussion of the link between mental illness and tragic shootings is definitely in order. But it’s disingenuous for politicians to take a sudden interest in mental health services as a means to avoid a meaningful discussion of gun safety.
Are you listening, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri? Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas?
Gun violence requires a many-faceted approach. Security and mental health care are part of it. But any path forward that doesn’t include removing the most deadly weapons from the market is only a dead end.