In the early moments following the news of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the reactions throughout social media varied along the lines of shock, expressions of prayer, grief, sadness, and even hand-wringing about current government policy. Both celebrities and my friends voiced their feelings, grasping for a way to make sense out of the madness of such an indescribable tragedy.
When situations like Newtown occur, the discussion invariably turns to gun control. At face value, this doesn't seem unreasonable. After all, firearms were involved. But a closer examination of the facts simply doesn't bear out a justification for addressing a symptom instead of the greater illness.
Consider some similar tragedies:
9/11: The greatest terrorist act in our lifetimes was committed without a single gun.
Oklahoma City Bombing: Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building using fertilizer and diesel fuel.
Bath Township, Michigan: The deadliest mass murder in a school in American history involved dynamite and pyrotol. Although the perpetrator did use a firearm, the majority of the deaths occurred as a result of bombs that were set in the school building.
On the same day as the shooting in Newtown, 22 children were attacked with a knife at an elementary school in China. The point of all this is to say that the choice of weapon is immaterial. No restrictions on guns, knives, fertilizer, or box-cutters will eliminate the dangerous potential of the human mind.
Corresponding to that, some have pointed out that instead of guns, more needs to be done to help those with mental illness, and rightly so. There is certainly a great deal of validity to that perspective. However, I think the thrust of both approaches, while well-intentioned, is to use policy to address a much more basic problem.
Government policy or funding cannot and will not solve this ongoing human crisis. When a person conceives an idea with the determination to commit an act so heinous and so evil in their mind and concludes that such an option is not only viable, but acceptable, no law will inevitably restrain them. Even in Newtown itself, the shooter obtained the weapons by theft; one report indicated that when he attempted to purchase a gun himself, he was denied.