Writing for huffingtonpost.com on the recent school shooting in Chardon Ohio, Denis Hennigan is full of what’s commonly called common sense. Well, at the beginning. “The ‘Why?’ question is certainly important,” The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Veep acknowledges. “If we are ever able to offer meaningful help to troubled kids, we must better understand the factors that cause teens to be so alienated and enraged that they would engage in violence.” Wait for it . . .
But the dominant focus on ‘Why?’ often obscures the nature of the problem posed by tragedies like Chardon.
Let’s face it. Chardon happened not because an Ohio teenager was so troubled that he became violent. Chardon happened because a troubled, violent Ohio teenager was able to get access to a gun.
Remove the gun from the equation and there may have been a violent incident involving T.J. Lane [above]. But it is doubtful that three young people would have died and two been seriously injured. The nature and scope of the Chardon tragedy was determined by the nature and lethality of the weapon. It’s not just a question of “Why?” It’s also a question of “How?”
It’s interesting that gun control advocates have moved away from the usual “this wouldn’t have happened if the shooter hadn’t had access to guns” response to spree killings to “it wouldn’t have been so bad.”
It’s a pretty pathetic argument that completely ignores the possibility, the desirability of potential victims fighting back. But it seems logical. Until you consider all the ingenious ways ways that people kill people. Lots of people. And then ignore that possibility. Or indeed, the reality of non-firearms murder. In that regard, Hennigan sees no evil . . .
Take the gun from Seung-Hui Cho and 32 Virginia Tech students would not have died almost five years ago. Nor would 15 more have been injured. Take the guns from Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris and 13 students and teachers would not have died at Columbine High School, nor would 21 others have been injured. Give these violent individuals baseball bats or knives instead of guns and everything changes. The problem is not just the people. The problem is also the guns.
Hennigan forgets one key fact about Columbine. Here’s the missing puzzle piece from wikipedia.org:
At Columbine, the pair met near Harris’s car and armed two 20 pound (9 kg) propane bombs before entering the cafeteria a few minutes before the A lunch shift began, and placed the duffel bags carrying the bombs inside. Each bomb was set to explode at approximately 11:17 a.m.
In fact, the Columbine killers constructed 99 Improvised Explosive Devices. More to the point—given that school killings are incredibly rare events—most gun-related violence is gang-related. Many of these shooting “victims” may be “young people” but they are also members of a criminal enterprise.
Equally, the people pulling the trigger on the vast majority of U.S. murders don’t obtain their weapons by “finding” legal guns in their parent’s underwear drawer. To suggest that controlling legal access to firearms would reduce overall levels of gun violence is beyond naive. It’s dangerous for both law abiding citizens and society.
Denis doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t see it all. Nor does he want anyone else to see the truth about guns and America’s gun violence.
We are repeatedly told, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Clever, but tragically misleading. A gun enabled T.J. Lane to be an efficient and effective multiple killer.
We lost three young people in Chardon. But we lose eight young people every day to gunfire. The problem is the guns.
Who’s misleading whom? That said, the problem could well be the guns. Not enough of them where they’re needed.