First There’s Unimaginable Tragedy: A Statement On Sandy Hook and Its Fallout
I live in Connecticut and have much of my life. I have friends and family who were directly affected by this tragedy and since last Friday I have been out of sorts over this dealing with the deaths and in one case the survival, of someone there. As the days have passed I have begun to deal with all of this emotionally and try to rationalize the events as well as the aftermath. It is with my perspective here in Connecticut, with direct ties to those involved that I now write this post that is not Information Security oriented, but more “security” oriented.
Please beg my indulgence here because I feel that it all needs to be said.
Life is fraught with dangers.
Today we humans go about our business mostly free of the fight or flight mechanisms we used to have to deal with every moment of our lives when we lived on the Savannah. We have formed societies to work together to make our lives safer and to move forward and strive for a better existence. We often forget that even today, there are dangers in every situation from falling in the shower and killing ourselves by accident to just having a heart attack where we sit eating a cheeseburger. Unfortunately today though, another threat is from mass spree killings either by terrorist types or, as we have seen in more recent times, spree killings with assault weapons and IED’s.
In other parts of the world there are of course other daily threats for those living in them. In the Middle East we see every day on the news how dangerous it can be just to go and get food at a local market because a Jihadi has placed an IED in a car. It’s all a variable of where you live really that accounts for the number of daily threats to your life there are. In our society in the US, we live a pretty safe existence for the most part and we seem to forget that every day, anywhere, can be fraught with danger from the mundane to the extraordinary.
Now, here, in this country we are once again afraid that some mentally ill individual will take up arms against us or our kids. We reflexively flinch at every copycat report of threats to schools now being perpetrated by other mentally ill individuals seeking to fulfill whatever deranged fantasies they have and we most of all, fear it. Exactly what those people doing these things wants. So reactions and reactionary statements on the parts of many are assuredly going to fly on the internet as well as the media and in person.
What I want you all to remember is this; Death can come for you at any time, in any way and you cannot live your lives in fear.
Gun bans won’t help.
Since the shootings talk of gun bans whether they be on so called “assault weapons” or en mass and I am already sick of it. Statistically the previous ban on assault weapons did not affect the shootings rates at all here in the US whether they be spree killing or not. As a matter of fact the nature of humans seems to be if I can’t have a gun and I am determined to hurt people, then I will find another way. Britain for example had to ban the import and sale of Katana’s because as you may know, they do not allow the ownership of pistols as a rule. It seems that since people couldn’t really get and use guns, they’d just go for the old Edo period be-headings instead.
In the US though, it would be pointless to try to ban guns altogether as they are a part of our culture that can never be removed. I also agree that it would be stupid and yes, once again it would not change things. We have the Second Amendment here and I bear arms too with a license to carry. Guns are easily procured here legally as well as illegally and this will not change. It’s really the illegally part that I see as the larger of the problems when it comes to this issue of banning them or banning “types” of guns. In the end unless they are all collected and melted down, there will be assault weapons out there on the black market and people will pay for them.
If a mentally ill person is organized enough to legally or illegally obtain weapons they will do so because it is their will to do it.
Assault weapons… Do we really need them as civilians?
With the above statement on bans, I also find myself in the position of asking myself if I, as a civilian, really need to have access to and possession of an assault rifle. In point of fact, my wife and I did have an AR-15 but sold it a while ago so mea culpa, I did have one. However, I for one never thought that I would indeed “need” one to protect myself as others seem to think today. While some would argue even that the AR-15 is not an assault weapon because there is no “selector” on there, I still say that it is indeed one, automatic fire or not. It was designed as one, it is used as one with slight modifications, and it’s sole purpose is to be used as a weapon of war.
Can someone kill just as many just as quickly with a pistol or another kind of rifle? Yes, it is possible and the linchpin may in fact be the magazine loads allowed. In the case of the Bushmaster AR-15 type weapon used by Adam Lanza, it had a 30 round mag potential and he had enough magazines to kill everyone in that school twice over. What makes the difference is the rapidity of reload here and that goes for any gun with a magazine. In the end though, do we really need a 30 round magazine to sport shoot or to hunt? The answer is no. But that is not the problem, it’s not a matter of need. It’s a matter of want here. People “want” to feel that they have power and to have an assault weapon with a 30 round magazine gives them a real sense of empowerment.. Albeit a false one.
So, back to the issue of do we really need assault weapons or high capacity clips. The Second Amendment speaks of a “Well Regulated Militia” and for me that would in fact be the National Guard, but the intent by the founders was to mean the populace would “regulate” the militias. Many hang their logical fallacy hat on this little statement within the amendment as their right to bear arms as well as the right to bear assault weapons. I’m sorry, but you are not a militia and in fact, I have yet to see any real data on just how many citizens have in reality had to react with the force of an assault weapon to protect their homes or families. Frankly, a pistol will do and in a pinch a rifle or a shotgun, there is no need for overkill. The stark reality is that many of the nutters most vociferous over this issue are the types who feel so inadequate that they need to over-compensate with a big gun.
On the other hand many people just like to have them and shoot them and at present, it is not illegal and you know what, they shouldn’t be. I just think that if you say that you “need” one because you fear that the government or the aliens or the zombies are coming to get you..
Well, then I fear that you are unbalanced.
Mental illness management.. No, it’s not a panacea.
Another hue and cry is over mental health issues within this country. I agree that there are many issues here and for the most part it is a problem that has been ignored by the state. The arguments going on now though are just the same arguments that went on post the Virginia Tech shootings and it’s been some time since that happened. To my knowledge nothing substantial has been done either in the means of preventing the mentally ill from procuring weapons, nor having a better system to detect, deter, and treat the mentally ill who might harm others. So what good came of all the talk back then? Sure, it would be good to have better means to determine who might be a threat but it will never stop every determined person from committing heinous acts like that in Sandy Hook. Nor is it possible to detect every person who may go over the edge and do such things. Mental health reform is needed, but not as a panacea to the issue of spree killings.
So if you are going to work on the mental health issues.. Please do so for the benefit of those who are mentally ill and not to be some prophylaxis for spree killings.
A determined attacker will find a way.. No matter what measures are in place.
Meanwhile, we have people wracking their collective brains to protect schools from these types of attacks. Frankly Sandy Hook Elementary had good measures in place but only lacked a full bullet proof glass shield around the whole building. You do see the lunacy of such a statement as being a measure of protection right? This goes back to my statement above that danger lies in our every waking and sleeping moment. It’s a fact and we can take precautions, but at what point does it become counterproductive to keep laying on protections?
All of this talk of guns and mental health as well as the protections for facilities like Sandy Hook Elementary is just so much babble. Lanza fired through the glass and the buzzer and locks protecting the facility were defeated. It’s a simple thing but the problem is that many people just could not conceive of the idea that someone would do that to attack innocent five and six year old’s. Unfortunately now, it is conceivable because it has happened. Now what do we do? Do we make each school a bunker? Do we equip each school with bullet proof/bomb proof panic rooms?
It’s time to reflect on all of this and make some sane choices.. I am afraid though, that sanity has left us all because of this horror.
Finally, for those of you on my twitter feed and elsewhere that I frequent who are gun enthusiasts please take a step back and think. I have laid out my position here quite clearly. It’s fine to disagree but please, stop the constant fearful chatter that your rights are going to be infringed and that the gubmnet is taking away your guns. They aren’t, and I don’t think they will be. All of this solipsism is making me sick. Let the politicians talk and then let the people decide. Stop the mental masturbation over your guns and your perceived rights because it makes you look desperate and silly.
Keep your bravado to yourselves and let us all grieve for a while.