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Sunday, December 16, 2012

GUNS, DEATH, AND ANSWERS – a response to The Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

The tragedy of death to innocent children, and adults who were their caregivers, is overwhelming. So what is to be done to prevent this irrational taking of life that seems to be occurring again and again?

Gun proponents seemed to be lacking on national television to defend their views. The other elected officials who were interviewed said something has to be done. I agree. And I am a licensed, concealed carry, gun advocate.

Prohibition of alcohol (and drugs) has not worked in the United States. Prohibition was tried in the Al Capone days and was a miserable failure. Illegal speakeasies and bootleggers were everywhere. Alcohol was eventually made legal again. Marijuana is slowly working its way into our culture, state by state. Just as these previous controls failed, I am predicting that gun legislation will not be able to effectively ban guns. Illinois is the only state where it is illegal for individuals to carry concealed weapons for protection in public, and the federal court of appeals struck down that ban this week. The state must appeal to the US Supreme Court or put a new law in place within 180 days. Even if it were passed – people are afraid.

What are they afraid of? Other people. In one affluent neighborhood there have been 11 home invasion robberies in the last 2 months. Men dressed in ski masks with guns are simply breaking into the homes and demanding cash and jewelry. Because they CAN. They are in and out very quickly. They have neighborhood watch, local meetings, email alerts......and the break in gangs are still prevailing. But there are jails for those people when they are caught. In the meantime people want the protection of having a gun. But the shooters who select large groups to kill, rather than a home to rob, seem to be a growing problem.

So what do we address if we cannot get rid of the guns?

Answer: what makes guns safer to the public. Cars kill and maim. We don't get rid of cars. We make them safer and make stricter rules for the drivers.

FEDERAL legislation should cover:

Guns cannot be purchased over the internet or at gun shows without background checks. (They can be now.) All gun stores would also be included in this. Said background checks would be expanded to a federal database that includes medical records of mental illness.

Guns should be required to be locked up with formidable combination locks that others, especially those under 21 and/or mentally challenged, do not have access to. Guns come in parts. Guns should be stored disassembled to some degree and the parts kept separately when non-permit holders are living on or visiting the premises.. Permits for guns should include training, testing, and an assessment of family medical and social history.

People in charge of gathering students or people in groups should be instructed as to defensive measures and use of guns, and required to pass tests in these areas. They should be provided with an appropriate defensive weapon after proper instruction and testing. The Connecticut school principal of the elementary school was shot to death as she, unarmed, charged the gunman who was armed. If she had a weapon, and knew how to use it, it might have ended then and there. Airplane pilots are now armed in the cockpit. Arizona allows concealed weapon carry. When the Gabby Gifford shooting incident occurred in Arizona, one of the bystanders had a gun but did not use it because of the number of people that he might have hit. But he was gun educated and when the shooter ran out of ammo and stopped to load again, he jumped him.

Schools and other large gathering areas need to be able to effectively sweep and scan large areas for large metal objects or even for ammunition. We have the technology for computers, smart phones, travel to outer planets, complex video games – silent alarm scanners that protect our entrances and exits to movie theaters, malls, commercial buildings, and other public places is lagging because no one has presented an interest in purchasing such on a large scale. So they have not been developed. But with the number of mentally ill people who are using killing to express their unhappiness in the world, the time has come for change and prevention. We need immediate notification to police and the people controlling an area when a gun/and or ammunition has entered an area. Police and security can be provided with a chip that bypasses the alarm with a universal code. This should be a challenge presented to our programmers of today with a large reward for the technology selected.

More people have mental illness in the United States than have cancer or heart disease. Our systems for treating mental illness and containing it have broken down. One psychological expert featured on television said you can never predict who is going to be violent. I wonder about that statement. The shooter of these children and teachers was written up by the Los Angeles Times as a troubled, but bright, youngster who was removed from the school system by his Mother and home schooled. He, at 20 and still living with her, shot her and used her guns to commit these horrendous crimes. Could this not have been foreseen in some way? Do these shooters share some particular profile that is not yet recognized? It seems that medical records have become so private that we are prohibited for getting answers that are needed.

All children are tested for IQ, abilities, etc. Tests for violent propensity should be developed, administered and noted in private medical records but reported to a federal database that is used for gun permits. Those people should not be allowed guns. Medical people treating mental illness must be mandated to inform of danger (they are now, but not to the degree that prevents mentally ill persons from buying weapons). Awareness in parents should be raised from the testing of the children. Those that are withdrawn from society by homeschooling, should be required to pass a socialization test to obtain a gun.

Is this a terrible deprivation of rights and invasion of our privacy? Or is this protecting our society? Again, if you can't get rid of the guns, then keep the mentally ill people and criminals from obtaining guns. Have federal programs for gun education, use, safety, and permitting. Have federal grants for development of new technology for better protecting our public gathering areas from guns by silent alarm scanners. Have federal legislation on gun purchase, private home storage, public detection, background checks and data banks, that are stricter. It's time to stop this senseless slaughter.

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