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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Sandy Hook and Violence in America

The most horrendous event of 2012 was the mass murders of twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut area. I would like to present here a beautifully written essay on violence in America by Michael Harris:

Violence in America
By Michael Harris

The recent school shooting in Connecticut will result in a national debate on what, as a nation, we can do to prevent this from happening again. This incident, and the others like it, has three main components to consider. First, there are guns involved. Secondly, a sick or evil person committed the acts. Lastly, we need to consider what in our culture may contribute to this phenomenon.

Guns
As usual, the political sides will focus on guns. Should all guns be banned? Should there be stricter gun laws? How do we keep guns out of the hands of crazy/evil people? Should there be all kinds of devices that make it more difficult to reload a firearm? Should certain types of guns be banned? Should ammunition be controlled?
There are inherent practical problems when it comes to guns. First and foremost is the Second Amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees citizens’ the right to keep and bear arms. There would have to be a constitutional amendment ratified by 3/4 of the states to ban firearms on a national level. Additionally, there are more guns in the US than there are people. The ability of the government to seize all guns in the US is an impossible task without a complete tyrannical takeover by the government which would most likely result in a bloody civil war.
There are several logical reasons why Americans should have guns.

Self defense
One of our God-given rights is the ability to protect ourselves, our families and others from violent criminals. Law enforcement is generally a reactive force that arrives after a crime has been committed. If the government disarms the law abiding public, thousands of innocent people will die each year at the hands of violent criminals. Citizens use firearms to defend themselves and their loved ones hundreds of thousands of times each year (1). Many more women and children will die if non-criminals are disarmed.
Oppose domestic tyranny
The founders of America understood that governments tend to oppress the citizenry when the government does not have a healthy fear of the masses. Most Americans’ cannot fathom the possibility of our country degenerating to a totalitarian government; however, this has occurred many times over in many countries throughout history.  Firearms are the last line of defense from tyranny.
Oppose foreign aggressors
Aggressive foreign governments with the intent to attack another nation must consider the ability of the citizens to resist the aggression. Even a powerful aggressor must factor the guerilla warfare capability of the other nation. A well-armed citizenry causes an aggressor to contemplate an attack. The Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan and the United States’ military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are clear examples of the difficulty in subduing an armed populous.
Collectors
Many firearms are works of art and mechanic marvels. Some people have the desire and right to collect guns for intrinsic purposes just like collectors of other objects. Some people collect firearms for investment purposes.
Competitive shooters
There are many people who own firearms for the purpose of competitive shooting. This is a sport and even an Olympic event.
Hunting
There are millions of hunters in America. Some hunters engage in this activity for sporting purposes while others require the game for their basic subsistence. Hunting greatly helps to control over population of numerous species and provides food for families.
Responsible gun-ownership reduces crime
There are a number of studies that definitively prove that stricter gun laws do not reduce violent crimes. In fact, studies show the opposite. Gun ownership by law abiding citizens actually reduces violent crimes (2). Common sense also illustrates this point. Connecticut has the fifth most strict gun laws in the nation (3). Detroit makes it almost impossible for private citizens to own guns, yet the city has one of the highest firearm related homicide rates in the nation. When Washington DC first banned firearms, their homicide rate increased 200%! (2)
Do murders adhere to stricter gun laws?
Common sense must again come into play. It’s against the law to murder a person. Indeed, the most egregious crime one can commit is to unjustly take the life of another human being. An individual who would kill another person would not concern himself with proper licensing, background check, or other gun restrictions. The murderer would not say to himself, “I really want to murder my neighbor, but if I do, I could get another 10 years in prison for using an illegal weapon.”
Most states require background checks to prevent mentally ill or known criminals from purchasing firearms. The problem is that they can only identify people who are known to be mentally ill. This inevitably will miss many dangerous people. Additionally, many murderous individuals do not legally obtain weapons – they steal them.
If by some unknown means, the government was able to confiscate and destroy all weapons in the United States, and prevent people from obtaining them from other countries, insane/evil people would then use other methods such as homemade explosives.
The totality of the gun issues seem to indicate that attempting to eliminate acts of mass murder by way of gun control would prove ineffective at best and more dangerous for ordinary law abiding citizens.

Mentally Ill and Evil People
There have always been mentally disturbed people in the world. Psychology and psychiatry are an inexact science. We don’t know what causes many mental illnesses or how to effectively treat all of them. We don’t know why mentally ill people do what they do. Trying to rationalize why a seriously mental ill person would commit a heinous act is futile. All we can to is attempt to help them before they commit a violent act. We need to take precautions to prevent them from obtaining deadly weapons.
There is evil in the world. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and many others have murdered tens of millions of people throughout history. These men represented pure evil while they casually and brutally executed masses. The only difference between these men and the Connecticut killer, Adam Lanza, is that the former obtained positions of power.
Society must accept that evil exists and attempt to protect ourselves and others from evil people.

Culture
Are there things in our culture that contribute to acts of violence? There’s little doubt that society has been desensitized to violence. We see it in our movies, games, and on the news. It has permeated all segments of our culture.
I remember as a child I saw a movie by Alfred Hitchcock called The Birds. Seagulls randomly attacked people and killed them by pecking them to death. I was horrified for weeks and maintained a keen suspicion of birds in general and seagulls specifically for years. Today, people would laugh at this movie.
It is well known that entertainment is a factor in influencing culture. Today, there are movies and television shows that gratuitously glorify all forms of extreme violence. There is a constant flow of movies involving mass killing, human dismemberment, and all manner of depravity. Young children and adults spend endless hours on violent video games that involve killing.  A recent study titled, “The more you play, the more aggressive you become: A long-term experimental study of cumulative violent video game effects on hostile expectations and aggressive behavior”, showed that violent video games create aggressive behavior (4).
We hear about our ongoing wars and the success at killing the enemy. During the recent presidential campaign, the president even bragged that he personally approved the targets to be killed in our drone attacks.
Is there any wonder that our society views death and violence as a casual occurrence?
Traditional Values
Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values. These principles are embedded in the Declaration of Independence, our laws, and our national traditions. For the past 50+ years there has been a concerted effort to eliminate these values from our culture with a high degree of success.
The 1st Amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say there should be a separation of church and state. The establishment clause was intended to prevent the government from creating a national church such as the founders had experienced with the Church of England. The free exercise clause was there to insure citizens could exercise their religious beliefs free from government interference. Progressives have had tremendous success interfering with a citizen’s right to express their religious beliefs at work, school, and in the public square.
People are not free to discuss their religious beliefs in the workplace without fear of discipline or termination. The government prohibits students, teachers, or coaches from praying at school. The Ten Commandments, Christian emblems, logos, or symbols are being removed from public buildings or property.  Christmas is constantly being attacked.
Moral battles involving the sanctity of marriage, the rights of the unborn, personal responsibility, relativism, etc. are all but lost in the United States. Before long the state will have to recognize marriages between pets and their owners, polygamy, and any other union following the equal rights theory. Unborn children are killed on demand by the millions and viewed more as a birth control issue. People do not accept responsibility for their actions and feel entitled to what other people earn. There is no right and wrong as everything depends on how it is perceived or by what the circumstances may be. Political correctness has become so absurd it would be funny if it didn’t result in being sued.
Many Americans have rejected or turned their backs on God. Our government is steadily removing God from our public square. Our churches are held hostage and afraid to address the contemporary issues of society because of their tax exempt status or fear of offending and loosing members.
So what we have is a society permeated with a violent culture containing an unknown number of mentally ill and evil people where Judeo-Christian values of kindness, peace, gentleness, and love are rejected but the philosophy of entitlement, the lack of personal responsibility, and relativism are embraced.
I wonder why there seems to be more heinous acts of violence occurring? It must be the guns…
Or, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Sources
1-    http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html
2-    http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/lifestyles/philosophy/gun-control-laws-dont-reduce-crime/nNmpT/
3-    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_22193747/connecticut-gun-laws-shooting?source=pkg
http://www.sciencedirect.

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