Reeling from the pure evil and horror wrought by a single 20 year-old boy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, America is searching for answers, meaning and ways to prevent this horror from being repeated. As we predicted the day of the incident (Thinking Right), Obama and the anti-gun forces are attempting to use this tragedy as an impetus to implement restrictions limiting our Second Amendment going as far as naming Vice President Joe Biden Chairman of an anti-gun task force.
Unfortunately this kind of overreaction has become typical of modern American society – a tragedy or significant event becomes the rallying cry for more government with the idea that with just enough government regulation or government intervention these tragedies could be completely prevented. After every one of these sad and horrible events the media launches into a rabid discussion of what could have been done?
The sad truth is that pure evil will always find a way to inflict death and damage regardless of any preventative steps taken. In a country struggling with the concept of personal responsibility and looking for government intervention and regulation to fix everything, that is a truth many will find difficult or impossible to accept. The truth is that nothing short of a total ban and complete recall of all privately owned guns could have prevented the Newtown tragedy. Even that draconian and unconstitutional measure probably would not have prevented the crazed and irrational Sandy Hook Elementary killings. A determined Timothy McVeigh killed 196 people using fertilizer. In Newtown, none of the guns used or taken by the gunman are even in the gun ban discussion and none of them were even owned by the gunman. There is nothing that can EVER be done to always stop crazy people from doing crazy things.
What is even more dangerous though is the slow and gradual surrender of our personal freedoms and liberties under the guise of added safety. Does ANYONE actually feel safer after the billions of dollars that we have spent on airport security and airport safety following 9/11? We have spent a lot of money and allowed ourselves to be subjected to ever growing invasion of our own personal liberty while creating the perception of safety without actually doing anything to make flying safer. We did it in response to the instant cries of “we can never let this happen again.” Flying has now become such a pain that many people carefully consider driving to avoid shorter flights that might actually take longer because of all of the security involved, and we have done little if anything to prevent the recurrence of terrorism.
The model for this unfortunate overreaction is our legal system which tries to assign fault and blame for every event that happens. We have warning signs at the top of waterfalls because some idiot fell over the falls and his estate sues the government claiming that he should have been warned about the risks of going over the falls. We have signs warning people not to cross airport runways at international airport because some idiot was killed running across the runway and his family sues the government alleging that he should have been warned about the dangers of crossing the runway.
The simple answer is that we can’t legislate away stupid or crazy. We have plenty of laws on the books to handle virtually every situation you could imagine. Savvy politicians understand that if they enact some useless measure in reaction to tragic events they can create the perception of “action” regardless of whether the “action” actually provides measurable safety improvement. The media will hound the politicians demanding action be taken to prevent recurrence of the tragedy because it is much more interesting to blame someone for failing to prevent the tragedy than it is just to admit the truth that sometimes bad things just happen. Meanwhile our rights and liberties slowly erode as we increase our “perception” of safety.