The National Rifle Association has come up with a truly stupid idea the nation cannot afford to protect children in America’s schools. It is almost as bad as President Barack Obama’s suggestion that the Newtown, Conn., tragedy could have been prevented by a new layer of gun-control bureaucracy. But both are illustrative of a far bigger problem in this country.
A nation born on the ideas of individual freedom and responsibility, we have become a nation that turns to government for a solution to every crisis. Long gone is President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 admonishment to “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” In its place is a sense of entitlement that governement should take care of individuals.
Right, left or center, political ideology doesn’t seem to matter. Everyone wants the government to fix things, to take care of people, to ensure that none of us die before our time, and it is drowning the country in debt. The U.S. Treasury simply cannot afford to play Big Brother for Americans, let alone for the world. Yet it tries.
We are tied down in a costly war in Afghanistan. We are still trying to disengage from a costly war in Iraq. We are spending vast sums on health care and retirement for Americans who’ve reached the magic age where government has decreed you don’t need to work anymore. In the wake of 9-11, we have created a costly new air-safety system aimed at countering terrorism even though air travel in the year of 9-11, even counting those tragic deaths, was as safe as it has ever been.
And now the NRA wants an armed guard in every school? How much is that going to cost.
Schools pretty safe
Isn’t it enough that we have small legions of armed guards in the federal buildings of this country already to separate the people from government officials? Is this really the democracy we want?
We seem to have lost touch with reality — or simply don’t want to face it. There are problems with gun violence in this country. They are not the problem about which we are worried. Our schools are already pretty damn safe. If you’re a middle-class or upper-class American, the odds of your child being shot and killed are low — about 2.3 per 100,000 kids.
The odds of that happening at school are even lower.
The odds of it happening because a random gunman showed up and started shooting?
They are infinitesimal, which is what made the Newtown Massacre such a big news. It is an aberration. It is a horror story so far out of the norm as to be almost unbelievable if it hadn’t happened. We are drawn to it by the human desire to try to comprehend the inexplicable. How could this happen?
The answer to that is simple. Newtown happened because no one did anything.
Warning sign, red flag
As the picture has become clearer since the shooting, it is obvious that the 20-year-old shooter was disturbed.
He appears to have withdrawn from society, gone anti-social. Anti-social is never a good thing. Humans are a social species. The retreat from human interaction is a warning sign, a red flag.
If you know someone like this, you should talk to them. If after that something seems wrong, try to get them to help. If they won’t get help, try to find someone to help them.
And how many of us do that?
There are indications the shooter’s mother, now dead at his hands, was trying to get her son help. There are various reports Nancy Lanza was talking about moving from her Connecticut home to put her son in a what has been described as a “school or center.” That she wasn’t overtly public about it is understandable. There remains a huge stigma attached to mental illness in this country. It is why instead of trying to get people help before something horrible happens, we witness the horror and then try to do something about it even if there is nothing we can do.
Does anyone really think a guard in every school is going to stop a determined madman bent on destruction