How much firepower is enough?

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut we’ve heard just about every possible explanation of why it happened. From too much access to guns, to the need for more mental health education in the country; everyone is groping for an answer.

No doubt there is plenty of blame to go around, but maybe the answers are so simple that we’re overlooking them. How about better parental supervision of children during their formative years?

The 20 year-old monster that massacred 20 little babies and 6 adults was viewed by his own mother as a danger to himself and to others. Yet, during his childhood, he was not only allowed to play with violent video games to entertain himself, his mother also trained him in the use of semi-automatic weapons. He used one of those weapons to kill her before going on a rampage in the school.

This is a classic example of the Frankenstein syndrome in which the monster ends up killing its creator. In this instance at least, there’s ample evidence that the mass murderer was a homegrown creation. The school and its staff did everything imaginable to save those innocent lives, including losing their own as they tried to stop the carnage.

I’m certain that most parents with children in school are confident that the schools in their communities are doing their utmost to prevent such tragedies. However, it’s important to note that similar safety procedures were practiced at Sandy Hook Elementary. Yet, it wasn’t enough to stop a determined lunatic with assault weapons.

As difficult as it is to grasp, what happened to those defenseless victims was simply not preventable. A generation has been raised to adulthood with a steady diet of violent movies and video games that teach children how to slaughter human beings with a simple click of a hand-held device, accompanied by colorful blood spatters and anguished screams. How many parents pay attention as their children amuse themselves with mass murder on video screens? Does anyone seriously believe that such mind-numbing brutality has no effect on young minds as they view murder as simply a playful exercise? Isn’t it just possible that many parents have allowed their children to learn how to kill without a sense of guilt or compassion? Add to that the easy access to automatic weapons and you have a bloodbath in the making.

Schools and their staff will do everything possible to protect our children, even sacrificing their lives as some did in Connecticut. But, schools can’t do it all; they need parents to be responsible for what the child learns at home. Only the symbiosis between parents and schools will help to prevent the next tragedy. Yet, our responsibility doesn’t end there. How about changing the laws relating to some of those ferocious assault weapons that can spit out a hundred rounds of ammunition in a few seconds?

As a former cop I have some experience with guns. I took a lot of dangerous hardware off of thugs on the streets of New York City. I’ve learned to have a lot of respect for firearms because I’ve witnessed what they can do to tear apart a human body. Yet, I feel certain that nothing I encountered in 20 years of police work could compare to what those first responders had to deal with when they stepped into that classroom and saw a sight that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. I was moved to tears as I watched the grief-stricken faces of parents, struggling to come to grips with the worst news any parent can imagine.

I don’t think it’s even arguable that a madman with less firepower would not have been able to take so many lives in so short a time. Hence, it seems reasonable to say that guns with less killing capacity might save some lives. When the Second Amendment to the Constitution was written, our ancestors were using muskets in combat situations. No one could have foreseen the ferocity that can be administered by semi-automatic rifles with magazines holding 100 rounds of ammo. Although I’m not a hunter, I know some very good people who enjoy the sport. Nevertheless, even the most avid among them would admit that they don’t need those horrific weapons to bring down a dove or a deer.

I also know some people who think the government might become oppressive, so they want enough artillery to defend themselves. To those people I say, don’t make me laugh! If the US military comes to get you, all of the AR-15’s and AK-47’s in your stockpile won’t save you. Yet, if their possession is limited, it may save us from another classroom massacre. 

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.


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