COLUMN: Call for more guns tough to understand

In light of Newtown, Conn. massacre, American gun debate is a tough one to wrap your head around, writes PAN editor Lance Peverley.

I force myself, out of a self-imposed sense of professional obligation, to attempt to look objectively at the issues reported in the media.

While many journalists around the world make a healthy living by promoting partisan beliefs, I’ve never been comfortable in that role and I have little appetite for their offerings.

Try as I might, however, I’m having a great deal of difficulty remaining objective on the gun-control issue in the U.S. right now.

Twenty-eight individuals dead in the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn. – including the shooter, his mother, six other adults and 20 children who will never see their seventh or eighth birthdays – and supporters of the National Rifle Association respond by not only lashing out at any gun-control debate but by calling for more guns in schools.

I simply don’t get it.

I say this not with any air of superiority. The fact I don’t get it doesn’t make me any smarter or the world any safer.

It only means the divide is just that much greater.

Rather than joining the chorus of many Canadians and some in the U.S. who denounce the NRA as being idiotic or willfully blind, I truly want answers from them.

How does the status quo in their country – or indeed more firearms – benefit its citizens?

From my standpoint, I am hesitant to accept, wholeheartedly, the argument that limiting legal access to guns gives more power to the criminal element. While there is some truth to this line of reasoning, I also think limiting access makes these bad guys easier for authorities to track down.

But more importantly, my major concern right now is not the established criminal element; it’s those law-abiding types who go off the rails – whether through mental-health issues or self-medication – with an arsenal of legal weaponry at their disposal.

I can’t see how an armed guard in front of Sandy Hook Elementary School would have saved the mother of the 20-year-old assassin, who used her own weapons against her. I can’t see how it would have, necessarily, deflected the killer at the school, any more than the presence of an armed guard at Columbine High School stopped the murder of 12 students and a teacher in Colorado in 1999.

I don’t see how the surprise attack on movie-goers by a man in full protective gear last summer in Aurora, Colo. would have been averted had more concealed weapons been in the theatre that evening.

And I don’t see the logic behind the statement attributed to NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre, Friday, that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Is this anything more than hopefulness, given the seemingly unpredictable nature of the way “good” people have turned “bad” in the past?

But this is just opinion. My opinion. From my limited vantage point.

I want to relate to the views of the seeming majority of Americans who demand their right to bear arms – with merely a modicum, if any, of government oversight.

I want to understand their need for self-protection and their fear of their own neighbours and their own leaders.

It seems to me they want to have firearms within reach at any given point to defend themselves against the person who would otherwise attack them.

It seems to me they predict more fear will keep their loved ones safer.

I predict only one possible outcome from this approach: more bloodshed.

Lance Peverley is editor of the Peace Arch News.

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