Since Friday’s horror at Sandy Hook, I’ve been often enough overcome by tears, as I am sure a lot of us have been. No one who has cared for a small child is not in some way wounded by this howling evil. Parents and grandparents everywhere share to some small extent in the bottomless grief of the parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, of the Innocents of Sandy Hook.
When these things happen, the heart cries for action. What is to be done? Can’t we prevent these massacres?
First of all, far and away first of all, no plan or program that does not account for the brokenness of each and every human being has the least chance of mitigating or ending the danger. Our culture doesn’t like to deal with this essential, truly essential, fact very much, but there it is, and the evidence for it is everywhere.
The fantasy of the Institutional Radical Progressive (no, not Liberal, they love neither Liberty nor open discussion, but are dictatorial and censorious) is that human brokenness can be solved with legislation and regulation, so they propose greater or lesser increases in the control over firearms. To which, the smart alec (but entirely on point) reply is, “The War on Drugs is going well, isn’t it? Can’t get illegal drugs anywhere. Bravo, well done, what next?” As long as there is a market for them, any prohibited object will find its way to those who want them, and, quite possibly, in even more lethal forms. Prohibition only moves problems around. Sometimes things need to be prohibited, but our historical evidence is that prohibition is rarely successful.
On the other hand, Second Amendment purists have to come to grips with the ‘force-multiplying’ effect of guns. Without guns, Adam Lanza might still have killed his mother, and that would have been a horrible family tragedy. Knives, staircases, bricks, swimming pools, frying pans, bottles, household cleaners, and quite a lot of ordinary tools, can be quite lethal if one is of sufficiently murderous intent. But it would have been a family tragedy only, not a national one. It was the combination of his madness and some weapons that has made it a national horror. I myself wouldn’t mind seeing a massive tariff on large capacity magazines, and restrictions on certain types of ammunition, knowing that those would not eliminate but maybe reduce their availability. Beyond that, I suspect that only cooperation between knowledgeable and reasonable gun owners and law enforcement and security specialists will come up with effective proposals. And that I’ll leave to them: with my vision, I might be able to hit the broad side of a barn. With a shotgun. From close range. Firearms are not my world.
We must be cautious about how folks use tragedy. Quite near my home is an east-west arterial street, not the most heavily travelled (that one is another half mile north), but busy enough. It’s a divided street, with shops and homes and a couple of schools. The speed limit was 30 mph for years, 20 in the school zones. In my experience, these are reasonable limits, most of the time. Of course people go faster: that’s what people do. Of course they text while driving, or drive while furiously angry with their girlfriend, or their boss, or because they just didn’t give themselves enough time to get to work. That’s what people do.
Earlier this year, there was a tragedy when a 9 year old boy on a bicycle was killed when a driver turning from one of the north-south streets struck a van, then the boy riding the sidewalk. The agitation for a reduced speed limit on the arterial street began at once, and was successful – the limit is now 25 mph, and there is talk of a stoplight near one of the schools.
However, a different kind of speed killed the boy. The driver who initiated the sequence was high as a kite on marijuana and amphetamines, and that this was not her first offense for DUI. She may well have been driving too fast (though on the side street, not the arterial), but she should not have been driving a car in the first place. The remedy enacted by the town will do precisely nothing to address the cause of the tragedy. We live in Cook County, after all, where the chairman of the County Board discourages “minor” arrests for marijuana possession. Law abiding citizens will slow down; folks who ignore speed limits and “yield right of way” signs, or drive while intoxicated, will continue to do so, and our courts will continue to tolerate such drivers.
The demands of our broken hearts make us easily misled. Beware those who seize on a tragedy to drive an agenda of their own.