Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 16, 2013

Wabbit season, duck season

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — All the gun law stuff is being voted on in Albany and it looks like assault weapons may be on their way out. I do understand people’s insistence that weapons have to go, but I also think that the effort is misdirected.

Every tragedy must have its boogeyman for us to point our fingers at. Not only does the boogeyman need to exist, it must also be something we can get our hands on. Most people do not want to try and understand the underlying issues of mental illness, so they point at gun control as the boogeyman in this instance. Unlike cigarette smoking, which can kill you, owning a gun is not an inherently dangerous act.

Before I dive any deeper into this argument, let me preface it by saying that I do not have a dog in this fight. I can actually see both sides in this gun control discussion, but I feel like there is more to it than what is being dealt with. I think people are ignoring doing the hard work just to find an easy way to pin these tragedies on something. That is like putting the proverbial Band-Aid on a broken arm, in my opinion.

In both the Sandy Hook and Webster cases, the guns were legally procured. That means that the people who originally bought the guns, did so legally. In the case of Sandy Hook, the guns were stolen by the assailant from their lawful owner. In the case of Webster, the guns were purchased under false pretenses by a very sick young lady. While I do agree that no weapon owned by a private individual needs to be semi-automatic and shoot a clip of 10 or more rounds, laws would not have stopped these tragedies from happening.

The honesty of good people would have stopped these tragedies. The mother in the Sandy Hook case knew she had a son with special needs living in the house, and she also knew he was dangerous. The young lady in Webster was apparently smitten with the sick individual who wanted the weapons and she supplied what he needed, even though she knew he could not legally buy the weapons himself.

Guns, on their own, did not kill those innocent people any more than the car that the murderer drove to Sandy Hook killed those children, or the building that was set on fire in Webster killed those brave heroes. The problem with our society is that we are ruled by things. We look at bad situations and blame the things involved instead of the people.

Today’s music is not responsible. The music I used to listen to when I was a kid was just as violent as today’s music and I have not killed anyone. Don’t blame movies or television. I grew up watching Daffy Duck get his head shot off on a regular basis and I can still tell right from wrong. Video games are not the culprit either. I used to love playing Doom when I was a kid and I never once raised a shotgun to kill someone.

Why do we refuse to look at each other and find the answers we need when things go wrong? Developing more comprehensive ways of assisting people with certain mental conditions should not have a stigma to it, but it does. The problem with treating the real source of these problems is that you cannot point blame at a mental illness and you cannot point blame at bad parenting. Since we cannot legislate those things, we feel powerless against them. Instead, we try to legislate everything around them.

When I was a kid, my teachers could whack us on the behind if we got out of line. Do you know what the result of that was? We learned to never get out of line again. When our parents wanted to let us know that we really screwed up, they smacked us as a way of making a point. That point was well taken and the screwing up never happened again.

If you want to stop all of this gun violence, then invest the money you are wasting on legislative sessions into a time machine. Let’s go back to the 1970’s and watch how things are supposed to be done. When criminals killed someone, they were put to death. When a kid broke into the neighbor’s house, the authorities and the parents didn’t blame the neighbor. They blamed the kid, and he got what was coming to him.

The tools of our society are not the problems. The problems are caused by the people that use those tools. Stop blaming inanimate objects for the evils that people do. Focus on the real causes of the decline of our society and maybe, just maybe, we will act in time to save ourselves and create a better world for people like my grandson.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident and someone who pines for simpler times when logic prevailed. His column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net, but illogical political and social emails will be instantly deleted. So don't bother.