Normative Narratives

1 Comment

Tragedy In Newtown, CT

28 were killed today, including 20 children,  in a tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School today. Update:  It was Adam Lanza, younger brother of originally accussed Ryan Lanza, who carried out the rampage which claimed the lives of 28 people including 20 children, his mothers and his own. His mother was a Kindergarten teacher at the school. Motive is currently unclear, and with the shooter dead we may never have the answers we seek. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of those affected by this senseless crime.

I was having a conversation with a former marine friend of mine recently about what I thought of the right to bear arms. He’s very pro-right-to-bear-arms, and as a strong liberal he wanted to know my views on gun laws. My argument was that as long as guns are used responsibly, it was a persons right to own a firearm. I began to say “there is nothing intrinsically dangerous about guns” but I had to stop myself, because there is. The U.S. ranks 12th in gun-related homicide, and all of the countries ahead of it are at much lower levels of socioeconomic development. Countries at comparable levels of development as the U.S., mainly European countries, have a fraction of the gun-related homicides the U.S. has. I know it is “not American” to want to “be like Europe”, but in the case of gun-related-homicides, I think they are unarguably the model we should be aspiring to.

Three things need to happen with respect to this disturbing figure.

1) It needs to be made as easy as possible to register any sort of gun. My marine buddy talks about how hard it is for people to get guns registered, this only creates a black market for guns. On the flip side of this, carrying a concealed weapon should be restricted to professional use and unregistered gun laws should be made absurdly strict–even for first time offenders, everyone. This will ensure most guns are out in the open and registered–transparency in legalized gun usage.

2) Stronger psychological evaluations for obtaining a licensed firearm, as well as a yearly psycho-evaluation for anyone owning a firearm. Sorry if its an inconvenience, but its necessary; once a year is not too much of an intrusion. This will also create a few government jobs, as more people will be needed to conduct the evaluations.

3) More police officers. Police officers should be stationed in all schools and place of public congregation. There should be some limit to the amount of people one officer can be accountable for, maybe 100, (but that’s just a guess and someone who knows more about those things should figure it out), and the number of officers present should reflect this. Unfortunately this may not stop the first death, but should limit mass killings like the one today. This will cost more money, but it is an investment in the very things America stands for, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

Update:I looked into it, and the U.S. has 233 police officers per 100,000 people. That’s about middle of the pack. It’s interesting how when it comes to foreign police power we’re by and far number one in spending, accounting for 41% of total world military expenditure. But when it comes to the people who are charged with the domestic security matters, we’re in the middle of the pack. Of course federal assistance will come eventually for state emergencies, but often times this is too little too late. Larger standing police forces and stronger gun laws would help contain gun related crime.

This chart is military spending by country for 2012

I hate to politicize the issue, so I will keep this brief. But if domestic spending cuts are forced by the G.O.P. this will affect state and local budgets, which will affect police officers and firemen, along with teachers and government officials. The G.O.P. is the party of national security and big D.o.D., but it fails to recognize how their austerity demands will affect security here in America. Less resources for foreign wars, more for true homeland security.

A tragic and senseless incident occurred today. The best way to honor the lives lost today would be to use this incident as a catalyst to bring about positive changes that can help prevent future atrocities from occurring.