I saw an exchange on CNN this AM with a Utah gun advocate who is training teachers on use of firearms so they can pack heat in class. The hosts seemed stunned when the guy said that parents didn’t have a right to know whether the person teaching their kid is armed in school.
BTW, Ali Velshi noted that this trainer had counseled someone who ended up on the FBI’s fugitive list, pointing out that just because someone receives training and passes muster to own and use a firearm doesn’t guarantee lawful behavior down the road.
I wish there were more serious discussions not just about the proliferation of guns in the wrong hands, but the fact that our society is full of people who have no impulse control when it comes to anger and acting out — and those people have easy access to firearms and unfortunately feel the need to use them in circumstances that formerly resulted in a shouting match or fisticuffs. What is wrong with people and what in our culture is fomenting these hair-trigger, deadly reactions, many times steeped in substance abuse?
You can’t heap all of the blame on inanimate objects — guns, video games, etc. — not everyone who owns a gun or plays violent videos becomes a spree killer. But for the vulnerable minds easily swayed by violence for pleasure we don’t seem to have any kind of handle on it, mostly because no one wants their kid labeled a sociopath. In fact, you cannot until they are an adult. The NYT article Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath? doesn’t come to a conclusion about what to do – they don’t want to label the kids, but the science shows sociopathy is hereditary, like many conditions, and in about 50% of the cases the behavior resolves at adulthood. The point is that to do the research to find a way to help the other 50%; it means assigning a label. Until we walk in those parents’ shoes, I certainly cannot fathom what can help families in this situation. The conundrum:
“Others fear that even if such a diagnosis can be made accurately, the social cost of branding a young child a psychopath is simply too high. (The disorder has historically been considered untreatable.) John Edens, a clinical psychologist at Texas A&M University, has cautioned against spending money on research to identify children at risk of psychopathy. “This isn’t like autism, where the child and parents will find support,” Edens observes. “Even if accurate, it’s a ruinous diagnosis. No one is sympathetic to the mother of a psychopath.”
But while there is evidence that some sociopaths may come out of the womb that way, it’s clear the vast majority of these men acting out with weapons in horrific ways didn’t just become that way overnight. We are doing something terribly wrong in raising our young men they are getting the message that violence is a successful way to get a leg up one-up on someone — or to force compliance rather than communicate or negotiate.
Too many are acting out at a young age, with people looking the other way or feeling helpless to do anything. The fact that there are epidemic levels of bullying should tell us something — parents and schools are letting kids down – both the victims and the bullies. Those bullies grow up, often become supervisors, and they bully there as well. Aggression in most forms is not only tolerated in our culture, but rewarded.
Simply labeling these people “crazy” is unhelpful when most of these incidents in the news, particularly domestic disputes, involve a gun turned on family members over pointless crap.
So we will see endless, fruitless exchanges about gun rights and gun control; I don’t see a lot of hope for compromise on any front, even after Newtown. The Second Amendment is here to stay, and the fact is that there isn’t a consensus around the country about what to do, only that this situation is dire and something needs to be done.