Much like most of the nation, I have been following and thinking about the horrific, monstrous slaughter of 27 people who did nothing to deserve their fate, during what is inarguably the season where peace should prevail.
I have also been following the responses to this atrocity, be they from friends, residents,lawenforcement, media, and politicians at all levels. Several things have struck me as poignant, some heart-rending, and some infuriating.
Twenty children, six educators, and a mother were slain in the most heinous way imaginable, at the hands of someone who appeared to be deeply disturbed. He committed these atrocious acts with firearms in what was possibly a long series of events about which we can only speculate (at this point).
I am a father, a son, a husband, a brother, an uncle, and a grandfather. The thought of anything approaching this beastly act causing my family harm is worrisome, but by no means will I permit it to be debilitating. I protect those I love as best I can, and stand ready to support them however needed. I am also a community member, a believer in liberty, and supporter of our traditional rights and freedoms. I am an American, and proud of what that means, equal to all other things in my life.
This massacre goes against everything I've come to know, and such senseless violence cannot be easily explained or predicted. But for politicians and pundits to come out even before the metaphorical smoke had cleared and insist that firearms are at fault, and more restrictions are needed, is not only premature (bordering on vulture-like) but irresponsible. In fact, that sort of ideological knee-jerk response was completely predictable — and equally sad.
I will not go into all the data and will attempt to not be overly emotional about the issue, but there are many reasons why removing firearms from the hands and homes of otherwise lawful owners is counter-productive and, in my opinion, unconstitutional.
As a gun owner and recreational shooter, I feel it important to have the ability to practice and share the company of fellow shooters. As a gun rights advocate (memberships in NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, and Maryland Shall Issue), I work to ensure that our rights under the Second Amendment shall not be infringed. For my home and my family, I feel it critical to have the means to effectively protect them, should the need arise. Restrictions to any of those aspects of living in this nation are something many of us consider unacceptable and un-American.
There are already laws and procedures in place that do a very good job of limiting purchase capabilities, access, and the types of weapons that can be owned. These can possibly be looked at for fine adjustments, I'm sure, but by and large they are sufficient to prevent even larger events than those of Newtown.
The unmistakable evil that precipitated this assassination of innocent people originated with an individual, not the weapons he used. When someone obtains a weapon illegally (whether a gun, a knife, a car, or a plane), that person is a criminal, plain and simple. The person from whom the weapon was stolen is a victim (assuming they had taken all possible measures to secure the weapon). The weapon itself is an inanimate tool, and only comes into play at the hands of the criminal.
England, Australia, Japan, Germany, and other places where limitations (if not outright bans) on firearms have been put in place show us two things. They show us that criminals will always find a way to commit violent acts and that leaving the population vulnerable is a bad — and often deadly — idea. We also see that, in cities and states in the U.S. where gun laws are strictest (Chicago is a prime example), violent crime is the highest. Most of that violent crime is committed with illegally obtained firearms. Creating additional potential victims by outlawing the means for self-protection does nothing to restrict these crimes and results in unnecessary loss of life.
I advocate for people to seek training to suit their personal circumstances; whether it be at home, on the job, or for concealed carry. I also recommend that anyone not comfortable owning or carrying not do so. A responsible gun owner also has the means to prevent their firearms from falling in to the wrong hands (in foreseeable circumstances). This is in part what was faced on Friday. Somehow, the shooter managed to slaughter his own mother with guns he should not have had access to, then exact his rage upon 26 others before showing mercy to the remainder of the school by ending his own life.
By all accounts, this individual should have been more closely monitored by what has become a gutted mental health system. He was, it has been reported, recently discouraged from purchasing a gun due to the existence of background checks which have long been in place. In that, the existing system worked as designed. No additional restrictions were needed. His next step was to steal the guns he desired — already an illegal act.
The current proposal to ban "assault weapons" (a term designed to scare the uninitiated and susceptible) will do nothing to prevent determined criminals from dastardly acts. It is more likely to destroy lives, freedoms, and even industries, all in the interest of exerting control over otherwise law-abiding Americans. It is incumbent on us all to have the ability to prepare ourselves in the event of such acts and be capable of matching any threat to our lives, liberty, or property.
I encourage our leaders to step back from the rhetoric, to allow the families to heal, and to take into account the traditions and freedoms we so long have held dear, instead of latching on to tragedies such as this to further political stances. These arguments can be held with cooler heads, with facts and reason, rather than attempting to capitalize on the tender hearts of the populace, who still mourn the loss of innocent life.
Glen A. LaAsmar, Glen BurnieCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun