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Nancy Smith

Gun Ban Won't Stop Another Sandy Hook Massacre: Let's Have the Hard Conversation

December 19, 2012 - 6:00pm

Why is the Sandy Hook aftermath conversation only about gun control?

Click the TV remote. Virtually every commentator on every news channel is promoting some form of gun ban.

It's never the individuals actions or the behavioral history of the person whose finger pulls the trigger. Its that damned right-wing, redneck-inspired gun culture.

Does anybody really think the guns Nancy Lanza kept in their Newtown, Conn., house all on their own attracted her son to launch a murderous rampage that claimed the lives of 20 small children and seven adults? Such simplistic nonsense.

What if the answers aren't that simple?

Consider that last year in Norway, a nation with a tight gun-control and licensing program, Anders Breivik methodically gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers, on the island of Utoya. Again, this didn't happen in the United States of America, where 311 million people own an estimated 200 million guns. It happened in orderly, gun-sparse Norway, where living by the rules is the modern-day path to Valhalla.

What if gun control is the wrong conversation for us to be having?

What if we dealt instead with the harder-to-comprehend realities that affected Adam Lanza's life -- the fact that he lived virtually locked up in a basement room playing violent video games over and over, hypnotized by war. Or that he kept to himself, couldn't look others in the eye, reacted without emotion. Or that he had cut his father out of his life, refused to see him after his parents divorced, when his father began dating another woman. Or that he was consumed with anger because his mother was going to have him committed for treatment.

Instead of more gun control, shouldn't we be talking about where to set the bar when it comes to forcing an individual into treatment - and whether those caring for people with mental-health issues have enough resources available to head off potential crises? The state ofConnecticut didn't do much to help Nancy Lanza. It's a state that makes involuntary treatment difficult because it leans strongly toward supporting the civil liberties of individuals. Let's talk a little more about that.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe more action to treat mental-health issues will do the most to prevent incidents like last Fridays school shootings. Only 27 percent think stricter gun control laws will do the most to prevent such shootings; 15 percent put the emphasis on limits on violent movies and video games; 10 percent are undecided.

Even actor Samuel L. Jackson, a mainstay in violent action movies, said this during an interview Wednesday with the Los Angeles Times: "I don't think it's about more guncontrol. I grew up in the South with guns everywhere and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people whoaren't taught the value of life."

Unsurprisingly, Jackson doesn't think violent movies or video games are to blame, either. The Times reported that hebelieves parents and role models who instill the value of life in their children will accomplish more thanlegislation that reduces the number of firearms in the country.

It's so easy in moments of despair like Friday's massacre in Connecticut to look to government for more gun control.

What isn't as easy, as National Review pointed out in its editorial last Monday, is "to write the laws that would have guaranteed Adam Lanzacould never find a gun, or enter a school by force, or go without what diagnosis, treatment, and supervision he mighthave needed. And hardest of all to write them in such a way that the republic wed be left with would still look likeAmerica in the ways we value most."

In his address in Newtown on Sunday President Obama promised a grieving community "meaningful action ... regardless of the politics."

But if enacting more restrictive gun laws is the action he has in mind, it leaves a mountain to climb in light of the Second Amendment and its principle. And more important than that, more gun laws aren't going to prevent another Sandy Hook massacre.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at (850) 727-0859.

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