Nicole Hockley is the founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, a “nonprofit working to end gun-related deaths.” In the intro to Ms. Hockley’s TEDx talk she declares “On December 14, 2012, a mentally unwell young man with unrestricted access to high-powered firearms went to an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and killed 20 first graders and six educators.” Unrestricted access? Adam Lanza shot his mother in the head and stole her guns. High-powered? As opposed to? You see, the thing is . . .
details matter. Especially if you’re trying to do something to reduce firearms-related deaths and serious injuries. Facts matter. Context matters. When proponents of civil disarmament cite the “seven children a day” stat — adding teenage gang-bangers to the list of firearms-related fatalities — they are deliberately distorting the facts and ignoring context to promote their gun control agenda. Reducing if not destroying both their legitimacy and the search for ways to reduce the toll.
That said, Ms. Hockley isn’t wrong in her call to the public to recognize warning signs of incipient firearms-related violence and act to prevent its realization.
As we’ve pointed out many times, Adam Lanza was shunned, ignored and isolated by health workers, educators and his own family. He was deeply disturbed from early childhood; a young man who clearly needed institutionalization. The Aurora shooter’s psychological pathology was also known to his school and the local police. No one did anything. Same deal for Jared Loughner, Gabby Giffords’ shooter.
It’s also true that not all potential active shooters and suicidal individuals can be ID’ed and treated. And what of gang bangers? Terrorists? Ms. Hockley’s enthusiasm for unconstitutional Gun Violence Restraining Orders indicates that she values intervention above the need to protect Americans’ natural, civil and constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
I’m all-in with her recommendation to educate people to recognize the signs of mental illness and promote the “see something, say something” message. But the “list of tragedies” we can avoid by proactive intervention is not “endless.” Which is why we need to stay armed: to protect innocent life. It’s one thing to try to prevent “gun violence” and another to lobby to make it harder for law-abiding Americans to exercise their gun rights.