Saturday, February 16, 2008

2-16-08: Gun Control

I figured I'd wait a day or two to just have my say regarding gun control, in the wake of the tragedy at Northern Illinois.

There's no way to stop a maniac like that from doing what he did with the way things are today. Illinois is a state that is quite strict on gun control, and yet Chicago is a relatively gun-happy town regarding crime. This kid was obviously mentally ill, but possessed a gun. I don't know whether or not he had the gun before going nuts, but my guess is he did. He had behaved erratically for two weeks prior (which happens to be the waiting period in most states), but my guess is he owned the gun for some time.

Here's the real issue: people don't know what they're talking about. I just saw something on CNN that was quite interesting. They were reading some viewer e-mails on the issue. One person said he felt, as I feel, that if students were packing in class then the gunman could have been stopped early on. Another person felt that this is the time to act and make it harder for crazy people to get guns. But, unfortunately, the broadcasters didn't make the connection. I like how they showed some good insight from viewers, which is great, but no one really made the connection that both situations can be realized.

The issue isn't stopping a crazy person from obtaining a weapon. Like I said before, this kid probably had the gun before the rampage. Or, if he didn't, then I bet there are plenty of sane-looking people with guns right now who have the potential of losing it. The real issue is how to both prevent them from going crazy and minimizing the damage when an event occurs. You can't feasibly stop a crazy person from going on a rampage by simply denying them legal access to a gun. If you have read or seen A Time to Kill, you'll know that people can get guns no matter what if they want them badly enough. If a gangster ex-convict can pack heat and get away with multiple violent crimes, chances are he didn't obtain the guns legally.

What needs to be addressed is keeping crazy people from using guns. This is very, very difficult, and most people in modern society, who rely on quick-fixes and the Federal government, is neither willing nor able to do this. One viewer on CNN nailed it: be more observant of people who need help. Don't just shrug it off, he or she might need help. Just talk to them. See what's going on. This kid was obviously ill, and for some reason didn't take his medication for a couple weeks. If some one had taken the 5 minutes out of their Facebook-driven life and talked to the kid, maybe he wouldn't have killed those poor kids. I'm not saying it would have definitely prevented the crime or the kid would have been talked out of it, but there are steps along the way that could have been noticed.

The issue of gun control is an on-going debate, but it can be resolved by people just paying attention to the multiple sides of the issue. It's not a matter of stopping all people from having guns. You can't think like a maniac without... being a maniac, but you can see the logic at it's core: a gun-free zone means that, if you want to shoot somebody, they probably won't have a gun. I have a buddy who had a permit to carry a concealed firearm, and does so. Back when the Virginia Tech shooting occurred, I asked him what he would have done. He replied simply: "I would've ducked down, waited for the kid to look away, and taken him down." If we allow sane people to carry weapons, they can help keep other sane people from getting needlessly murdered by insane people. There's a reason why it's the Second Amendment. The only amendment it's behind is the most important one there is. I bet that's no coincidence.

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