The Trigger Separating Guns and Violence
By: Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen)
Last December, after a long day of work, I could think of nothing more important than going home and hugging my kids tightly. News of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy was everywhere that day—TV, newspaper, social media and general conversation. When a parent sends a child to school or when a teacher goes to work, it is assumed both will return home safe and sound at the end of the day. That day, 26 families in Connecticut tragically lost their son, daughter or spouse.
I spent the next few days thinking about the motives of this deranged man and how this shooting could have been prevented. I knew that the actions of this one man acting illegally would bring an onslaught of anti-gun legislation across our country. Many gun control advocates argue that citizens no longer possess bayonets and there is no longer a need for a militia—and therefore, the Second Amendment is no longer logical. However, as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I firmly believe we need to protect this Constitutional right.
After the tragedy at Newtown, President Obama quickly released a laundry list of executive actions and proposed congressional actions to disarm American citizens. But will enacting stronger gun laws really prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing the unthinkable?
The City of Chicago, Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and continues to pass more restrictive gun laws through the legislature, yet it boasts one of the highest murder rates in the nation. Chicago is known worldwide as the “Windy City,” but is increasingly becoming known for something more sinister- gang violence.
Chicago’s gangs aren’t going to care whether or not concealed carry laws pass; they are still going to acquire firearms illegally and use them to commit violent crimes. Furthermore, since when do criminals abide by the law of the land? Enacting stronger laws in a “knee jerk” reaction to national tragedy will not make good people out of bad people. Shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy, a Chinese assailant stabbed 22 Elementary children in Henan Province in central China. On April 15, 2013, two foreign nationals detonated illegal bombs to kill and maim participants and spectators in the Boston Marathon. This kind of evil cannot be prevented simply by slapping another law on the books and calling it a day. After all, isn’t murder or possession of a weapon inside a school already illegal?
The issue at hand is not the object used for destruction, but the person wielding it. A gun sitting on the table is no more responsible for murder than a household butter knife, but when placed in the wrong hands, it becomes a weapon of violence. Until the trigger is pulled, it’s simply an inanimate object. At the end of the day, new gun laws wouldn’t have prevented the most recent tragedies from happening and certainly won’t prevent them in the future.
While a gun may be an effective tool that can be used to kill people, criminals can and will find other methods of carrying out their plans. Whether the object is a pressure cooker, a knife or other household object, it will not ultimately stop these individuals from committing violence. The fact remains that murder is a heart issue, not something that can be solved in the halls of Congress.
No one will ever know what triggers these individuals to commit crimes against defenseless innocent children and bystanders, but we can all do our part in stressing the importance of responsible gun use.
Organizations such as GeorgiaCarry.Org and the National Rifle Association are outstanding resources that offer teaching seminars and gun safety tips for people of all ages. This includes seminars for children to learn more about gun safety and what to do in the event of an emergency. While this won’t stop violence, it goes a long way toward educating individuals about the full capabilities of a gun and how to use one responsibly.
At the heart of the gun debate is fear. When people view the weapon as the problem, we lose sight of the debate. Violence is not about guns, it’s about people. Whatever the weapon of choice, it was simply the conduit by which evil people perpetrate their actions. Just as we can’t require private kitchenware companies to stop selling pressure cookers simply because someone used one to commit a heinous crime, we shouldn’t outlaw legal gun use for law-abiding citizens.
Instead of teaching individuals to fear, it’s important to instill a healthy respect for the power that guns possess. Guns have saved lives more times than they’ve taken them, but all we hear about in the news is how many people are dying as a result of gun violence. When in reality, this is a disproportionately small percentage of the population. Healthy gun debate can only begin when we are ready to talk about the underlying issues that cause violence in the first place. Until then, we’ll only have an empty shell of a debate and emotionalism that drives people to fear, not appreciate the ability of guns to provide a reliable method of self-defense.