Greetings and Salutations;
I hope that we all had a great time as our “end of the world” parties were disrupted by the massive shocks of the Earth being destroyed by a huge asteroid crashing into it…Oh wait…that did not happen after all. Actually, the worst thing that the 21st of the month broght for me was that I was unable to toast the end of the world with the big mug of hot Mayan Cocao as I had planned. I did not realize I was out of some important ingredients, and, had no fuel in the truck to make a run to the store or money to spend on it! Sigh. Maybe NEXT time (and I am sure there will be a next time for the doom-sayers).
However, The past week or so has not been free of apocalypse…I, of course, mean the tragedy of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. With 27 bodies, including 20 children and 6 teachers, I expect there will be an ongoing discussion of the events at Sandy Hook School for quite some time. Initially, much of the uproar focused on how (or if) it should change the laws controlling gun ownership in America. That is a difficult and emotional issue for many folks, both for and against it, as unfettered gun ownership has been a part of American society since the inception of the country.
There are already too many examples of each side twisting the facts to suit their agenda. The “add more laws” crowd is pointing out that the shooter’s mother, who he stole the guns from and then killed, had been a trained gun owner, with legal weapons at hand, and, she had not been able to stop the shooter. This annoys me because it ignores a basic fact of reality; That is the fact that when the shooter killed her, it is more than likely that she was asleep and never knew what hit her. There has been no estimate as to time of death, so far, but, the report is that her body was found in bed, in her night clothes. That says “sleep” to me, and, under those circumstances it is hardly a surprise that he got the drop on her. Now, if they were to speculate on the quality of parenting, and, the level of denial that would cloud the perception of the woman about her son, that might have some validity, but, no…they are going for the easy shot (as it were) – or, to be more PC…to pick the low-hanging fruit. This is one of the talking points that they use to justify the addtion of many more laws and restrictions on gun ownership. Another point that is without merit are the continuing claims that guns have no other purpose than to kill (and by implication, to kill other people). I have been a shooter and gun owner for many years, and I have never shot another person, nor, do I think that I will be put in the situation where I have to decide to take a life. I shoot a variety of guns, ranging from the small ( a .22 pistol) to the fairly large ( a 3030 competition rifle) and perforate paper with the projectiles. Why do I do this? Because it is hard to do and requires a fair amount of skill to do well. It requires a good understanding of physics, meterology and chemistry to balance all the factors that separate that bullet from the precise center of the target. I shoot more than one type of gun because every gun is unique in the way one aims it, and the way it reacts when the trigger is pulled. General skills do cross over, of course, but, it is the details that put two or three bullets through the same hole in the paper. So…yes…guns can be misused to kill innocents. and, a vanishingly small percentage of them are used in this terrible way. However, to say that they have no other use but to kill is a specious arguement, without merit.
On the “we have too many regulations now” side of the argument, there have been some pretty goofy statements too, alas. For example, the president of the NRA, a guy named La Pierre, has generated quite a bit of controversy by saying that he supported the idea of teachers being trained to shoot, and, having them keep weapons in the classroom! Now, I disagree with this point of view too, simply because it is not the teacher’s responsibility to be the bodyguard of the little snowflakes sleeping through their class. It is a hard enough job to teach and try to impart knowledge to the next generation. To add guard to that is just a bad idea. If more guards are necessary, Perhaps the school should hire some of the out of work vets from the recent wars as school guards. It would provide work for men and women that need the support, and, would work to their training. That having been said, I suspect that this tempest will continue on until there is another, new disaster or other attractive event to distract the fickle eye of the public. It will then fade away until the next time. As I have written about elsewhere, I still believe that the only way to really “fix” the problem is for the parents to make more efforts to instill ethics, honesty, respect for others, and respect for life in general in their children. Also, of course, we adults need to look at the way we live our lives and try to instill those same values into our rules for living. I maintain that it is not the gun that is the problem, but, rather, the society of sociopaths that we are turning into by not instilling better values and rules for living in our children.
Then, a day or so ago, firemen were responding to the reports of a house burning, when they came under attack with rifle fire! Two were wounded badly, two were killed. The shooter did kill himself, but a little late. The current reports indicate that he was on parole from an earlier murder, and, had killed his sister then set the house afire to destroy her body and the evidence of her murder. He finally killed himself, but, alas, too late by two more bodies. There is a report of a note that he left, saying that he wanted to get back to doing the thing he really enjoyed – killing people. There have been no reports where he might have gotten the weapons he used, but, as a felon, he could not legally have them.
This story is important because it puts into stark relief the subject of mental health care (or the lack thereof) in America. Because the shooter at Sandy Hook had some issues with (perhaps) autism or some other oddity in his neurological makeup the discussion about the lack of good mental health care has been growing louder. The latter story should add spot-lights to the discussion, as that shooter was obviously deep in a pit of delusion of some sort. Again, as I have mentioned in passing elsewhere, I am fairly sure that these two men showed some fairly clear signs that they were slipping into a demon-filled Black Pit that was not going to allow their life journey to end well. Yet, even if any of their families and friends had observed this descent, and been concerned about it, there was little or no recourse for them. Mental health care is hard to get access to, unless one has some really good (i.e. Expensive) insurance. While it is possible to get people put into a secure facility for a 72 hour evaluation period, one has to convince a judge that the person is a clear and present danger to either themselves or others. I am not entirely sure that the quality of health care and evaluation available with this option is all that good. While the medical professionals involved are trying to do their jobs well, and, a vast majority of them are caring, perceptive individuals that CAN do a fairly decent job of telling where a person’s mind is at, it is a fact that there are too few of them, and, too many other distractions pulling at them to ensure that each case will get the level of attention it really needs. The bottom line is that there are not a lot of options for putting out the fire when it is just a smoky pile of small branches. It has to become a raging forest fire before help can be acquired. In addition to the difficulties of getting help, and, as a subset of one’s close circle of friends and family seeing the problem, there is the fact that mental illness is still looked upone with very negative attitudes. Even today, one runs into the fact that some people fear a person with a neurological condition because they have no idea what that person will do, nor do they know how to interact with them. They often fear that they will be the target of a physical attack that comes out of no where, so, they keep the afflicted one at arm’s length. Then, there is the attitude that, because people with neurological issues “look normal”, there is really nothing wrong with them, and it is all ust habit, or they are trying to scam the system or something like that. those of us with some level of Asperger’s, or issues with Depression, often run into problems with “normal” folks. Because they do not suffer from the debilitating effects of Depression, their attitude is often “everyone gets sad now and again. There is nothing to do but throw it off and move on. Do that and you will feel better”. That is all well and good, but, that does not change the fact that being sad for a while is an emotional state of mind. Deep Depression is a real chemical change in the brain…and it is impossible to just ignore that. As for the Asperger’s issue…Sometimes the only way to get a person with this form of autism to learn is to home-school. Yet, I have heard folks say that the parents are doing a bad job raising the kid, and, that they should not put up with the crap. That they should put the kid in public school, because it would be good for them. Again, Asperger’s in specific, and autism in general, are issues where the brain itself is wired differently, and, so, trying to shoe-horn that special needs child into the same box as the nurologically normal folks simply does not work.
Bee Man Dave