December 20, 2012
Until Next Time
By David E. Petzal
The last time we had a massacre, I said there would be another, and now we have that, and we will have more because we seem unable to solve any of our problems, whether it be the deficit or the fact that Miami Beach will be underwater by the end of this century. But let’s pretend that the untalented hacks who make our laws may be able to surmount their limitations this one time and see what the problems are, that they may address them.
First, of course, is our absolute love of pretend violence. Last week I saw Lincoln, and the four trailers that preceded the feature showed nothing but carnage and mayhem—shooting, stabbing, beating, explosions. No dialog, no plot, just human beings being exterminated. We love this stuff, and are surprised when the real thing comes along as a result.
The worst manifestation of this is the video game, which is nothing less than a training aid for mass murderers. Video games do two things: They increase the hand-eye coordination of the person playing them, which enables one to shoot more people faster, and they de-sensitize that person to the idea of inflicting death on people. It’s exactly what the armed forces do, except in a different form.
This is so obvious that it was brought up with considerable heat by as dim an intellectual light as Joe Scarborough, who is good for telling you what Congress was like in the 90s, and little else.
So my first proposal is scaling back on the video carnage. President Obama says there is going to be a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. How about a ban on the worst of the computerized slaughter? Or would that irritate his many admirers in the entertainment industry?
The second problem is one of casual gun storage. One of the more specious comments I've heard regarding the Sandy Hook shooting was that Nancy Lanza was "...a model gun owner..." because she took her son shooting. Although we do not yet know how Nancy Lanza stored her guns, presumably they were not stored securely enough to prevent her son from accessing them. If that was the case, she was not a model gun owner. In fact, she was the opposite if she had a disturbed kid and did not adequately secure her guns.
I’ve lived for years in a state with a safe-storage law, and I have no problem with it at all. So, my second proposal: When your kid steals your firearm and kills a bunch of people, you do not get to hide from the press and issue a statement through your attorney that you are baffled and saddened at how junior went bad. You get, instead, to go on trial as accessory to murder. If it’s found that you have not made a reasonable effort to lock up your hardware, you may then contemplate your negligence from a prison cell. Assuming, of course, your kid doesn’t kill you first.
Third. One of the saddest and most baffling episodes of Sandy Hook was the principal and the school psychiatrist rushing to where Adam Lanza was shooting his way through a window. What did they hope to do, reason with him? Schools have a bull’s-eye on them until further notice, and the only thing capable of dealing with an Adam Lanza is someone who has a gun himself and is not a teacher. Teachers are not trained to shoot people who are shooting at them. Police are. So put a cop in every school. We put sky marshals on airplanes.
So far I haven’t said anything about gun control. It’s been pointed out that stringent gun laws have worked near-miracles in countries such as Australia and England. The problem with this is that Australia and England are not the United States. Controlling anything has never worked very well here. The country is too big, too complex, and has too many people. Our farcical, 60-year war on marijuana is becoming history and any attempt to stamp out assault weapons, or high capacity magazines, or military ammo, or semi-auto pistols would have about as much success.
I’d like to be optimistic and say that the kids and teachers who died at Sandy Hook did not die in vain; that we may become a safer country as a result. I’m not, but again, who knows?