This essay looks at a liberal hot button issue: guns, from the perspective of the rational policy maker asked to suggest solutions to what is seen as a real problem. The point, however,is not the solution (which may, or may not, make sense) but its immediate and categorical rejection by liberals: they have a plan: confiscation, and the fact that no reality based reasoning or solution can penetrate their certainties gives the lie to their claim to both rationality and and moral leadership.
One of the most frustrating things about committed liberals is that many subjects are taboo -- things you can't talk about near them without triggering an emotionally aggressive counterattack aimed at you, personally.
Gun control is one of those subjects. Thus my sister in law, a liberal who lives in a protected academic enclave in upper New York, knows with absolute certainty that nothing like the Columbine or Newtown killings would ever have happened if only the federal government had acted years ago to confiscate all firearms.
She's a smart lady, but everything we know about gun control says that taking guns away doesn't reduce the likelihood that kids will be killed by the insane. Brazil, for example, reacted to increased gun violence in 2003 by passing just the kind of legislation she wants; but the April 7th, 2011 killing of 11 children and one adult at Rio's Tasso da Silveira school happened anyway - as did at least seven major German school shootings since the passage of their Federal Weapons Act in 1972.
China has a five hundred year history of disarming its peasants, and a much worse history of child killings in schools than the United States does. Part of a New York Daily News report on a recent incident in which 22 school kids were attacked by an adult with a knife makes the point:
No motive was given for the stabbings, which echo a string of similar assaults against schoolchildren in 2010 that killed nearly 20 and wounded more than 50. The most recent such attack took place in August, when a knife-wielding man broke into a middle school in the southern city of Nanchang and stabbed two students before fleeing.
Most of the attackers have been mentally disturbed men involved in personal disputes or unable to adjust to the rapid pace of social change in China, underscoring grave weaknesses in the antiquated Chinese medical system's ability to diagnose and treat psychiatric illness.
In one of the worst incidents, a man described as an unemployed, middle-aged doctor killed eight children with a knife in March 2010 to vent his anger over a thwarted romantic relationship.
It would be nice to think of Theresa's belief that having government confiscate guns will save kids as just naive, but the sheer emotional violence she pours into rejecting anyone questioning her beliefs is far too over the top to be a cover for mere naivete. The truth is that she knows who's really responsible for these killings but desperately wants to believe that guns are anachronistic cultural golems imbued with intrinsic evil, always whispering messages of hate and power to weak, but innocent, kids like Adam Lanza.
In reality, of course, Lanza used guns because the criminally insane can make rational choices, and guns combined the lowest risk with the highest reward for where he was and what he wanted to do -- denied his weapons of choice, however, he might have thrown Molotov cocktails into classrooms (Russia), attacked the kids with a meat cleaver (Latvia), used a kitchen knife (Japan), killed them with a hammer (China), used a home made flamethrower (Germany), or made a cross bow and petrol bombs to murder them in the school yard (Australia).
The common thread among school killings worldwide is that weapons restrictions leave unarmed teachers to die facing armed maniacs --and part of what Theresa refuses to face is that guns are necessary and useful in some environments, the difference between a Mexican standoff and a massacre in others, and almost completely irrelevant to whatever it is that turns the Alan Lanzas of the world into mass murderers.
What the public needs to neutralize people like Lanza is a layered defense in which individuals are free to protect themselves and others in any way they can, while social resources are focused on identifying and helping the criminally insane before they become mass murderers.
The major part of what Theresa surely knows but so desperately wants to deny is that actions catering to her professed beliefs contributed to the number of deaths in Newtown. Connecticut is a liberal state where many of her views are reflected in law -- and Connecticut didn't just fail to protect those kids, it went the extra mile to disarm those charged with protecting the children while immunizing their attacker against preventative surveillance and control.
On the last ditch defense side, Connecticut combined cuts in the school security budget with stringent anti-gun propaganda and controls to make their schools very safe for a madman wielding a weapon.
On the prevention side -- well, here's how Breitbart.com summed it up:
In February 2012, Connecticut Senate Bill 452 (SB452) was put forward to remedy the fact that Connecticut was one of less than ten states in the U.S. to lack an "assisted outpatient treatment" (AOT) law.
But the bill was passed to Connecticut's Joint Committee on Judiciary in March, where it quietly faded away because of opposition by those who viewed it as "egregious" and "outrageously discriminatory."
Had this law passed, it may have forced Adam Lanza to be treated for his alleged mental illness instead of allowing him to roam free, and ultimately to kill 26 persons and himself in a vindictive rage on Friday.
Although there is some variation, the way these laws work in other states is simple: AOT laws preempt older statutes that only allow the mentally ill to be forcibly institutionalized for treatment if they've done harm to themselves or others. This is possible because AOT laws allow a state to institutionalize a mentally ill person for treatment if the state has reason to suspect such institutionalization will prevent the individual from doing harm to self or others.
Why didn't the legislation pass? Because the ACLU and other "civil liberties" groups and individuals cried foul. The ACLU in particular said 452 would "infringe on patients' privacy rights by expanding [the circle of] who can medicate individuals without their consent." They also said it infringed on patient rights by reducing the number of doctors' opinions necessary to commit someone to institutionalization.
As the Breitbart writer goes on to say we cannot know whether any of the professionals who came into contact with this kid and are now claiming to have voiced concern, would have acted to help save him had the law allowed that --but we do know that state law prevented it.
Similarly we can not know whether anyone at the school would have had and used a weapon had that been allowed by law --but we do know that state law prevented that too.
Boil it all down and what Theresa refuses to accept and clearly doesn't want anyone else to even think about is obvious: in Connecticut the guns were locked up, but Adam Lanza wasn't -- and that's very democrat, deadly to kids, and completely contrary to worldwide experience.