17 Dec 2012

Gentlemen, please mind your knees.

The recent tragedy in Newtown, CT has undoubtedly reached your eyes or ears by now. I’m not going to be another one of those people bitching about over-reporting of it (though I do believe over-reporting is a genuine problem). However, I do want to have a quick word with you, my Dear Reader, on the nature of knee-jerk legislation such as that pertaining to gun control which will inevitably come up in the course of the coming months.

I will start by reminding you that Newtown is a location which is very near and dear to me. Not only do I work for a company whose founders are from Newtown, but my girlfriend Bonnie attended Sandy Hook Elementary and her family continues to live there today. Friday’s events struck me as closely as anyone.

Grieving is right and appropriate, but it is possible to grieve in a right and appropriate way without proposing and enacting measures in haste, without considering their consequences. To word it differently, our society seems to be that every tragedy can and should result in legislation designed to prevent it from ever happening again. Take our freedoms and rights, oh holy governmental protectors, just protect us from these dreadful events!

I am grieving with the rest of Newtown, but I am grieving with my head on straight.

If you have not yet read the reports, Mr. Lanza obtained his weaponry by way of his mother, whom he overpowered, murdered, and then proceeded to the school. His mother’s weapons were legally obtained, presumably locked up, and otherwise possessed in compliance with even the strictest proposed gun-control legislation. There is no amount of legislation that could have prevented this particular incident.

Some have proposed the enactment of legislation which holds a gun owner responsible for any crimes committed with that gun. Shall we then blame the late Mrs. Lanza for her weapon’s role in this tragedy? She was overpowered, and then killed. This was not her fault, beyond perhaps the lack of an unbreakable gun safe in her house – which would have been reasonable, as her children are both grown and to her knowledge were of no danger. Moreover, if Mrs. Lanza purchased the weapon with intent to protect herself during a burglary or other intrusion, is it not reasonable to keep it in a location more convenient than a safe, so that she can quickly obtain it when it is needed? Protecting yourself and your own family and property is the primary reason the Second Amendment was added to our Bill of Rights. What protection would a gun afford against a burglary if you have to spend 5 minutes fumbling with the safe to get your gun out? The intruder isn’t just going to stand there. If we mandate the use of gun safes, the entire purpose of the Second Amendment will be largely defeated.

I have a different proposal. Let’s enact a law which imposes a 1 year moratorium on laws which, in exchange for a few “little-used” freedoms, aim to prevent a specific Bad Thing from happening again. Our society is so convinced that legislation is the answer to all of our problems. It is not.

I know it’s generally rather unorthodox for me to write a blog post that talks only about a wrong answer without proposing a right one. I could go on for hours on this, but suffice it to say this is a good place to start.

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