Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Sandy Hook

Rivers of ink have raged, almost as the rivers of blood that flowed all too freely have now stilled. I don't know when is, or even if there is, a right time to wade in to a discussion on a tragedy as raw as that of Sandy Hook School, where those killed are only now being buried, where their families have not even begun to really grieve. Parents of children are being forced to come to terms with a reality that none of us should ever have to face. Families of adults who died protecting the innocent battle with conflicting emotions; pride in the bravery displayed by their loved ones fighting for space in amongst the utter sadness at their deaths. 

Names of victims hang on a U.S. flag on a makeshift memorial in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Conn., as the town mourns victims killed in a school shooting, Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
And in the midst of it all, the all-too-familiar rhetoric begins. Pro-gun versus anti-gun is too simplistic. It's like saying that there are those who wish to live in a constant state of war against an enemy and those who want peace with the very same. In reality, everyone wants peace. It's just a question of how to get to that state. Rhetoric alone will not answer the questions that will race around the minds of a nation, particularly a nation in mourning. 

I have only questions, no answers, but feel the need to raise them here, if only as an outlet. I struggle to understand why this happens. Why it happens in America. Why is it that I live in a country where guns are a part of the daily view, yet we have mercifully been spared the awful scenes that have now been shown all over the world. 

I am torn. Torn between believing that weapons should be available so that it is not only the criminals and terrorists who possess them, and believing that they should be almost impossible to come by. Several times in the past, terrorist incidents in Israel have been halted by a passer-by who happened to be there and happened to be armed. Right place, right time. On the other hand, the readily available weapons allow for easier access to those who would use them to harm the innocent. 

However, one cannot walk into a gun shop here and buy an assault rifle "off-the-rack." The number of civilians carrying weapons is actually surprisingly low. Assault rifles are seen in the streets, but they are carried either by members of the armed forces or by members of response teams in the more volatile parts of the land. They can't just be stored at home as yet another item on a list of fixtures and fittings. Licenses are hard to come by and are enforced by strict regulation.

Arguments will appear on every media outlet, on social media, in conversations between neighbours and friends. Both sides will voice their opinion, all too often based on that cyclical rhetoric, bandied about by populace and politician alike. Slogans don't solve the problem, they just accentuate and polarise it. They certainly do not reunite grieving families with those that they have lost. Falling back on rights is as helpful as quoting often irrelevant statistics. It is, however, clear that something has to change, probably on both sides of the great gun divide. 

I don't have the answers. I may not even be in a position to ask the questions. I do know one thing for sure. I never want to see these scenes again. Not as a parent, not as a news reader, and not as a paramedic. Not on my own doorstep, nor on anybody else's. 

Yet another community will have to rebuild itself, brick-by-brick, one family at a time, united in grief for now, but hopefully in strength in the future. And all the while, the answers must be found to prevent anyone else from facing yet another unspeakable tragedy. 


The Girl said...

After Dunblane in 1996, the knee jerk ban on handguns (in 1997) served little purpose other than to make our (then) gold medal winning pistol team into criminals. Their subsequent banishment to France to practise meant that they now do not feature on the medals table at all and galling of all, handgun crime is STILL rife in the UK.
I do not condone gun crime, I just wish that there were a better way to make gun ownership safer.

Bobball said...


All of us who are reasonable still have more questions than answers. Ultimately, I doubt the right answers have to do with the tool, as much as with society and how we deal with people as a whole

One thing of note...the "Assault Rifles" you see where you're at are different from the "assault rifles" Americans can buy in a sporting-goods store. The ones American civilians can readily purchase may look like a military/police weapon, but have no more capability than someone's deer rifle. That's part of the problem in these arguments...people propose limits on firearms that simply look like other firearms.

The solution is far more complicated than that. Thanks for the kind thoughts though...

MSgt B said...

You ask why things like this happen in America, but not in your country, where weapons are profligate.

Then in the next paragraph, you mention all the times you've heard of incidents stopped by passers-by who "just happened to be in the right place at the right time".

I'll not get into the social aspect, comparing how people are raised from childhood in our two countries, even though I believe that has much to do with it.
I'll simply go for the "low hanging fruit" on this one.

All of these tragic mass shootings you keep hearing about are happening in officialy designated "gun free zones", which should be more accurately designated "unarmed victim assembly areas". Your average terrorist D-bag or paranoid fruitcake rarely goes charging into a police station full of armed officers to start shooting the place up. I wonder why that is?

InsomniacMedic said...

The Girl - agreed. What's needed is better control, not necessarily heavier bans...

Bobball - I don't think that it's honestly a question of just what a weapon looks like. It's hard to comprehend the need for certain weapons that seem to be as easy (and I use that word with some caution, because I'm fully aware that it's by no means cut and dry)to buy. I don't understand the obsession with guns that seems to be almost a rule in many parts of the US. It's almost as if it's some sort of misdemeanor NOT to own a gun. That, plus the fact that too many people seem to either be unaware of the need to secure these weapons, or just think that it isn't necessary. These are perhaps some of things that need to be regulated more closely.

MSgtB - It's easy picking sometimes to go for the low hanging fruit, right? :)
I'm not claiming that I'd like to see a society where guns are banned totally, because that would mean one thing - the law-abiding would have no protection against those who would continue to get hold of weapons by means illegal and unjust. As I wrote above - there needs to be better regulation, be that government legislation or be it much higher levels of responsibility from those who already own these weapons.
There is good and evil in this world. It's only right that the good has at least a fighting chance. But there also needs to be better preventative measures against evil.

Thanks all for your comments!