By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
The horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut have left us all with a sense of shock and helplessness. Twenty elementary school children dead, six educators slaughtered, and a place we all like to think of as a safe haven from the misery of the world polluted by horrific violence wrought by weapons more properly used on a battlefield. Politicians from President Obama to New York Mayor Bloomberg have called for “meaningful action” to combat gun violence which is endemic to America.
But does this mass murder of innocents present the right case to support effective gun control? From what we know now the answer is “no.” The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, was a troubled teen who suffered from either Asperger’s syndrome or a personality disorder according to the New York Daily News. One family friend described the young man, saying, “This was a deeply disturbed kid. He certainly had major issues. He was subject to outbursts from what I recall.”
Lanza also had strange permutation of the syndrome in that he was impervious to normal stimuli. Another “longtime” family friend said Lanza had a condition “where he couldn’t feel pain. A few years ago when he was on the baseball team, everyone had to be careful that he didn’t fall because he could get hurt and not feel it.”
Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which allows the sufferer to maintain high academic and cognitive functioning but handicaps social interaction. It is the classic high school brainiac who is unable to ask a member of the opposite sex out on a date. The cause is unknown but certain genetic markers may be present to suggest that is its origin. Thus, Lanza may have acted from a motivation he had little control over and which no amount of gun control or mental health legislation could control.
Additionally, the guns used in the slayings were purchased legally by Lanza’s apparent first victim, his mother, Nancy. Lanza stole the weapons — a .223 Bushmaster assault weapon*, and two semi-automatic handguns, a 9 mm Sig Sauer, and a 9 mm Glock — after murdering his mother and thus began his rampage. The simple fact is that no gun control measures either on the books or reasonably under consideration could have stopped such a disturbed person from acquiring these weapons if he was willing to kill to get them.
As much as many of us would like to see guns regulated at least as much as cars or liquor, the facts here do not present the best case to achieve this goal. The American love affair with guns is seemingly getting stronger with sales of firearms setting new records. Gun manufacturers and their minions at the NRA have succeeded in scaring many Americans into believing that Obama and the Democratic Party have a secret agenda to disarm the public.
In fact, the public’s support for gun control has been on a steady decline according to polling conducted by Pew Research. Even the school mass murder at Columbine registered only a bump of support which quickly vanished. The chart below (from the Huffington Post) graphically demonstrates the public’s attitude about guns in an era of distrust with government and the political process.
It would take a paradigm shift in the culture to create the political will to take on the Second Amendment. It is a telling — and perhaps damning – fact that even the death of 20 children under age 10 is simply not enough.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Our good friend, slartibartfast, has provided a link on the effectiveness of the federal ban on assault weapons. It’s good reading. Here it is: Did the federal ban on assault weapons matter?
*Also commenter, Roman Berry, (9:19 am) has provided some context for the term “assault weapon.”