Reasonable gun control can help reduce risk of more tragedies
The Kansas City Star
Like many of you, the Sandy Hook shootings affected me profoundly. As a parent, this tragedy is particularly hard to take. Many of us have turned our grief into efforts to try to prevent such a tragedy from recurring.
The issue of gun control has taken center stage. Initially, I thought that this tragedy would change opinions on gun control. Instead, I have found is that events like this only serve to reinforce existing views. Gun control advocates say that this is the time to get rid of all guns and gun rights advocates propose placing armed guards in schools.
I submit that reality is more complex. There is no one solution that could prevent such a tragedy. When something as awful as this massacre occurs, we have to realize the failures of our society exist at multiple levels.
Nevertheless, I agree that gun control is an obvious place to start. I understand the concept that ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ I get it. If we just increase the amount of background checks and place more obstacles in the path of gun ownership, could we have prevented Adam Lanza from getting his hands on a gun? Probably not.
Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun control laws and the weapons belonged to his mother, who may not have failed any screening methods.
We have to take a closer look at the types of weapons sold in this country. I understand that hunters need rifles and people who feel endangered need a handgun for self-defense. What I don’t understand is why do we need assault rifles with high-capacity magazines? The only purpose such a weapon serves is to kill a lot of people - that is why the military needs them and that is why civilians do not need them.
How would recent events have been different if there were no public access to assault rifles? I agree that Adam Lanza could have still walked into Sandy Hook and opened fire, even if he was still just carrying a rifle or a handgun. However, in the time it took for him to reload, one of the many heroic teachers may have been able to get a few more children out of harm’s way or subdued the shooter. By the time the police arrived and he turned the gun on himself, maybe only a few innocents would have died, instead of 26. It would still be a tragedy, albeit a less terrible one.
What about the concept of posting armed guards at the school? I just can’t believe that is the answer. If someone was deranged and calculating enough to plan his attack at the school, couldn’t he devise a way to sneak up on a guard and kill him first? I don’t think more guns is the answer - I think it would only lead to more violence in a school full of innocent children.
I think that if we come to the point where the only way to keep our children safe is to post armed guards in schools, then we, as a society, have all lost.
Society should be evolving in a direction that teaches our children to resolve conflict without weapons. Instead, we are heading to a future of school sentries and field trips where parents have to remember to bring snacks to feed children and a handgun to keep them safe. If that day comes, then I think we have betrayed the principles that this country is founded upon and I don’t want to be an American any more.
Sanjaya Gupta, MD, of Leawood, is cardiologist with St. Luke’s Hospital and a parent of three elementary school aged children.