By Ben SuazoNews Editor
It’s been nearly two months since Sandy Hook Elementary became a tragic event in our recent history and yet we are being distracted with talks of new gun control laws. Even if the proposed laws were in place, they would have done very little to prevent the recent slew of massacres. These tragedies come from deep problems of human disturbance.
With so many recent, high profile tragedies in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; Aurora, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona it is easy to blame loose gun regulations that need to be tightened. In news footage, we often see the shooters with eerie faces and learn that their stories suggest they had serious issues that went beyond anger. Based on their actions, it is difficult to see Jared Loughner (Tucson), James Holmes (Aurora), Adam Lanza (Newtown) and Wade Page (Wisconsin) as anything but insane. Loughner was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic before his first trial, and eventually pleaded for a life sentence. A medical evaluation for Holmes has not yet been released, but the reports of his apparently absent-minded mental state and creepy Joker costume at the time of his arrest do not fit the conditions for sanity.
In Minneapolis on Monday, President Obama highlighted proposals in Congress to limit gun magazines to 10 rounds, to ban the sale of “military-style assault weapons” and to improve background checks on gun purchasers. These all may be noble pursuits for his administration in his second term of office, but have very little to do with how Newtown happened, for instance. According to reports, Lanza sometimes reloaded after firing 15 rounds, just 5 rounds more than the 10-round magazine limit proposed by Obama. The facts of these high profile tragedies do not suggest that loose gun control laws were at fault.
Sending Loughner, Holmes or (had he survived) Lanza to jail or death row is not a policy that helps the United States prevent a future similar tragedy. There has to be some effort to identify and help these types of individuals before they can inflict their own damage, and when we talk about new regulations aimed at damage control or at keeping guns away from the hands of the mentally disturbed, it is really shameful if we do not also reach out to understand and aid them, rather than demonize them based on their worst actions.
The fact that we have kept up a conversation on gun violence for this long is impressive, and it may even do some good to inhibit nationwide gun violence. Obama has called for changes that may actually reduce the role of legal gun markets in fueling personal vendettas and gang wars. But if it is the prevention of Columbine-type massacres that we are aiming for, then I wonder how many more Loughners and Holmes we will have to bear before the mental health conversation is able to keep our attention too, and have a meaningful impact.