CT shooting: maybe “you’re on your own” isn’t such good public policy, after all.

We discuss gun control at length. Should we limit cartridge sizes? Firing rates? These are good questions. It would be hard to come up with a rational reason to allow military-style weapons of such destructive power to be sold to civilians.

We discuss “mental illness,” a laughably simple term that seems to hold “the crazy people” at arm’s length while feigning interest in their well-being. We’re not crazy, after all. Just some people who have “issues.” As dismissive as that discussion may seem, yes, it does also seem like we ought to take mental health more seriously as a society.

And yes, some even discuss Aspergers and the autism spectrum, because of course that is one more thing about Adam Lanza that makes him different from a majority of Americans. There is nothing about Aspergers that pre-supposes violent behavior at all. But we’re still talking about it, because most of us just don’t know enough about it.

Yet these discussions, some lazier than others, all come back to the same place. Sooner or later, people come to the conclusion that if we don’t act on everything, we really end up doing nothing of substance.

I would submit that our national conversation is turning towards a larger realization and we’re waiting for mainstream media to find the language to describe it. As a community, we’re starting to come to the conclusion that it isn’t one policy that is the problem. Rather it is the general sense that “you’re on your own” that is the problem.

You don’t need gun control, because you can handle all that yourself. You don’t need “socialized health care,” because your health is between you and your doctor (and your insurance company, and its actuaries). We need less government. We can handle it on our own.

More importantly, maybe part of the problem is the fact that we really are starting to think we’re on our own. That our neighbors don’t care about our health, our safety. That 47% of us are beneath the contempt of the rich and powerful. That the government is really the control-mongering “other” that we’re told it is, in television, movies and Republican mailers. That if you’re without resources, you’re without hope.

After decades of drowning governments in bathtubs and starving beasts, it turns out that yes, gun control might actually make us safer. Yes, a rational public policy that provides equal access to health care – including mental health care – might have some benefit even for the wealthy. Yes, we need each other and yes, our representative democracy is the place to come together.

There are lots of more immediate solutions on the table at the moment and we ignore those at our peril in this moment. But maybe long-term, we ought to consider civics lessons in school with more seriousness. Classes that teach our kids how our government actually works so that, rather than sneering at its failures, they’re ready to actively participate in its successes.

I suggest this not because I believe that familiarity with how bills become law will stop one madman; I don’t suggest it because I think electing a Representative will make one loner feel enfranchised enough to leave the gun at home. I suggest it because I dearly hope that the actions of the next madman might be mitigated by the actions of an involved community and an informed electorate.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

9 replies on “CT shooting: maybe “you’re on your own” isn’t such good public policy, after all.”

I can’t understand why anyone in this country thinks it’s ok to own a gun like an AK47. That is not a gun you take hunting unless you are hunting people. And why do these parents of troubled, violent boys think bonding with them over a gun and target practice is the right thing to do? Can they not think of a less destructive hobby to share?

Owning a black powder rifle is about historical relevance. Owning an AK47 or an AR15 is not. Do you have any idea how long it will tak for an AK to become a relic of the past the way the black powder or Kentucky long rifle is today?! One can argue that the M16 (AR15) is obsolete, because the round size isn’t made anymore. (The M16A2 uses an infantesimally different round size than the M16 or the M16A1.)

Do we keep Tommy guns or Gatling guns in general circulation because of their historical relevance, even though their original users were gangsters and soldiers? And what does that tell us about the values of their owners? If they simply valued the piece’s historical relevance, they would donate it to a museum.

If we were experiencing a military coup, or an anarchist overthrow of our government, I’d be justified in owning automatic weapons an belonging to a militia. If I thought the government was becoming a fascist dictatorship, I’d want to stockpile just such weapons in order to launch a militia strike against the government (as is our right under the constitution?). But isn’t it wiser all the way around to forestall such an apocalyptic scenario through active influence of laws and lawmakers today, that will strengthen our democracy and reduce those probabilities through legislation, checks on the power of the government and the military?

Calls Tom a chickenshit.
Won’t leave a public point of contact.
I would feel a lot better about said individual owning a gun if s/he could control how s/he shoots off his/her mouth.

You’re chicken shit because you refuse to let other people defend themselves, It’s you who are in the way of the defense of life and liberty and the defense of the home and schools. Not the AR15 or the AK47 owner.

Grow up. Understand that there really are bogeymen out there ready to gut you for your purse, and that if you just defended that purse, the bogeymen would go away. Insisting that everyone else hand over their purses is the way of the coward.

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