Saturday, December 15, 2012

Preventing Future Slaughters


The tragedy at a Connecticut grade school reminds us all how fragile our security is, how vulnerable we -- even our children -- are.  Since 1982 there have been 62 mass killings in the US.  And if we look only at the worst mass shootings anywhere in the world , twelve of the nineteen worst since 1990 have happened in the US.  The nation with the next highest incidence is Finland with two.  What do they all have in common?
We find that the mass murderer is almost always male, is probably White, and is in his 20's or 30's.  He loves weapons, particularly guns, is a loner with no friends and few acquaintances, may be a drifter with no responsibilities, and probably has no criminal record or any lengthy history of mental treatment.  The mass murderer has festering "real or imagined grievances, frustrations, disappointments, and outrages done to him by others over a long period of time" (Flaherty 1992:5). (Source)
We're all thinking about prevention.  Some focus on mental health, others on guns and others on ramping up security at schools and other public facilities. Let's focus on individual acts we all can take.

What You Can Do Now
  1. Turn off the TV.  Media exploitation of these tragedies feeds them and encourages more.  Consume no more news -- television, newspaper, internet -- than you would on any other day. Knowing the up-to-the-minute body count, watching people cry and seeing the face of the perpetrator does not tell you anything useful.  
  2. Contact your TV stations, newspapers and radio stations and tell them to stop glorifying the killer and the killing.  Tell them NOT to show the face or name of the killer.  Make him anonymous.
  3. Talk about guns with people who agree and disagree with you.  Be respectful in spite of your passion. Listen. Make this your goal:  What kinds of weapons can we agree to place limits on? What do individuals need weapons for and which weapons will suffice? We won't ban everything.  Nor are we likely to continue the anything and everything agenda of the NRA. Do we start with large magazines? Automatic weapons? Allowing regulation of gun manufacture and trade? (We do it for cars, pajamas, peanut butter, dog food and every other consumer item.) Restricting gun show sales? Allowing state and local governments to make their own rules? Eliminating stand-your-ground laws? 
  4. Contact your Congressional representatives and the President.  Let them know you expect some courage on this issue.  Tell them what specific actions you want them to take.
  5. Continue living your life.  Send your children to school.  Go to the theater. Go to the mall.  Don't let the crazies change the lives of you or your loved ones.  Statistically, you're still safest whenever you're not in your car.
Meanwhile, be aware of just what our gun culture is.  In the Rogue Valley, there are sixteen stores where you can purchase a bottle of hard liquor. You cannot buy it at a swap meet and you can't carry it around downtown or have it accessible in your vehicle.  There are laws that ensure the alcohol is prepared properly (whatever that means) and that prevent anyone under 21 from drinking it.

There are thirty or more stores where you can purchase a gun. You can also buy it at countless gun shows, from an ad in the paper or from your neighbor. Or you can buy it online or from a magazine. You can give it to your children, carry it around downtown (with a permit) or keep it loaded on the seat next to you in your car.

Both guns and alcohol are killers. Why is one sheltered and the other controlled?

See also: Hobby Politics

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