This wasn't intended to be a blog post, merely a reply on one of my status updates on Facebook. Last night I posted a short statement on my Facebook page, which was as follows:
senseless shooting spree at a primary school over the pond.
Twenty-seven lives lost, eighteen of them little more than babies. Love & sympathy to all those affected by this atrocity. The lives lost
is sickening enough, but one of the worst things is knowing that this
will happen again, when another sicko decides it's time to go on a
rampage. All the love, sympathy and prayers are not going to bring back
those innocent victims. Cut the crap & stop the debate on whether it
is your 'right' to own a firearm if you choose. Civilians shouldn't be
allowed guns, end of debate. It won't stop this from happening again,
but the risk will be greatly reduced, and if even one innocent child is
saved by this, surely it is worth sacrificing the 'right' to own
something that is lethal in the wrong hands."
I rarely post a serious status update. I rarely get on a soapbox and 'preach'. But when I got home yesterday, my FB feed was, understandably, full of status updates about what happened yesterday. While nearly every single status expressed shock, support and sympathy for the victims, the majority ALSO contained reasons why guns should or shouldn't be considered a constitutional 'right' to own or not.
I don't pretend to know the gun legislation of all (or any) countries, and I don't pretend to understand the ins and outs of the constitutional rights of American citizens. But what I DO understand is that FAR too many people start throwing political arguments around in the aftermaths of these horrible situations, and it makes my blood boil.
The thing that really got my back up was seeing x amount of people churning out the 'guns don't kill people, people do' argument (or various forms of it). I'm sorry, but no. You can play on words as much as you like, but while this sentiment is technically true, the simple fact is you can't shoot people unless you have a gun.
Sadly, we all know that this won't be the last time that something like this happens. And it's not restricted to America, it happens the world over. The inescapable truth is that while we all proclaim outrage and disgust whenever something like this occurs, we have become cynically desensitised to it. While we are fighting to keep our rights, we are forgetting the very real consequences of them.
The truth is that the majority of these tragedies occur when an unbalanced person loses control and proceeds to do something that would normally be as alien to them as it is to anyone else. It is also true that an inanimate object cannot be blamed, just the person who is wielding it.
But you cannot argue against logic. Twenty-seven people would not have been shot yesterday if guns were not so easily accessible. While everyone was debating their constitutional right to own a gun in America, somewhere in China a similar event unfolded. Another unbalanced person entered a school with an intent to hurt a large number of people, children included. This person, however, did not have a gun. His intentions were clearly much the same as the shooter in Connecticut, but his choice of spreading chaos was to stab as many people as he could. This event was just as horrific as the shootings in Connecticut, but with one highly significant difference. There were no fatalities. More than twenty children (and one adult), will have nightmares for the rest of their lives probably, but they are alive. Not so those poor victims in Connecticut.
There will always be mentally ill people in the world. There will always be people who suddenly, sometimes without any kind of warning, lose control and temporarily become a killing machine. This will never be controlled. But we can at least attempt to control the weapon of choice that these people use during their flights of madness.
While everyone debates over whether they should have the right to own a gun or not, the consequences are buried beneath political rants. As I said in my original status update, cut the crap and end the debate. Civilians should not be able to own a gun. As a weapon, it is one of the most destructive. Take it out of their hands, and an unbalanced person has fewer options to spread their murderous intent. It will not STOP their murderous intent, but the consequences just might not be so severe, as the events in China yesterday clearly demonstrated.
There are those of you who will say that making guns illegal will not stop people from getting one, and you would be right. Making something illegal does not stop people from obtaining it. But it makes it much more difficult, and that is surely a very big step in the right direction.
Maybe once the debate for owning a gun has been removed, we can start to address the bigger problem which is, sadly, perhaps pushed to one side whenever these atrocities happen. While we keep debating over the gun issue, nothing is being done to address the very real underlying problem. Take away the gun part of the issue, and start focusing on the social problem instead. As a society, we have become far too blase about violence in general. We mouth platitudes and sympathy when things like this happen. We mouth them genuinely, but they are platitudes nonetheless.
We need more education and support in place for the mentally ill. There will always be people who slip through the net, but maybe, just maybe, we can help and support these people before they reach snapping point.
And when we can't? Maybe they will be unable to get hold of a gun, as the man in China couldn't. Maybe they will set out to kill as many people as they can, but will fail.
Cut the crap. End the debate. Guns DO kill people.