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Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III
On Friday December 14 the small central Connecticut town of Newtonwas subjected to an unimaginable horror. Adam Lanza murdered 20 school children between the ages of 5 – 10 years old and 6 teachers who gave their lives trying to protect them. The 27th victim was Nancy Lanza, Adam’s mother; he killed her and also turned his gun on himself. In all, 28 people lost their lives at or near theSandy HookElementary School on Friday.
Our entire nation is in shock (again) as it grapples with the aftermath of another mass murder. Most recently, on July 20th James Holmes walked into a movie theatre in Aurora, CO and killed twelve; on August 5th Wade Michael Page walked into a Sikh temple inOak Creek,Wisconsin and killed six; on September 27 inMinneapolis,MN five people were killed when Andrew J. Engeldinger walked into his former workplace and opened fire.
During his remarks in Newton President Obama said, Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?…I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough, and we will have to change.
The President is correct. We’re not doing enough. Elected representatives such as President Obama and NY Mayor Bloomberg have correctly said that these tragedies must end. Honestly, they won’t. In a democracy where individual liberty is sacrosanct, there’s no law or other government action that can prevent a deranged individual from exacting revenge on innocent victims. What a sensible society can do is make it much more difficult for deranged individuals to acquire assault style or personal weapons of mass destruction.
Bloomberg recently stated, “Nobody questions the second amendment’s right to bear arms…” That’s just wrong. As the Honorable Judge Reggie B. Walton wrote in 2004, “For more than sixty years following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Miller (1939), there was little judicial debate regarding the scope of the Second Amendment, as almost every circuit court interpreted Miller as rejecting the notion that the Second Amendment provided individuals a constitutional right to possess firearms.” The NRA and gun manufacturers have placed strong money behind a constitutionally weak argument.
It’s time for a peace loving enlightened society to do away with the public’s ability to purchase assault style weapons and extended clips for handguns. Hunters don’t need them and they serve no socially redeeming value. There should be mandatory background checks for all purchases of firearms at all stores and venues in this country. These policies would help to take the “mass” out of mass murder.
Part of this problem is a result of the Reagan administrations policy to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill. Those crazy failed policies decimated the mental health services infrastructure and released too many vulnerable people onto American streets with no means to get treatment. Funding for mental health assessments and treatment should be restored so that more of those in this country who are battling depression and other forms of mental illness can seek and receive proper treatment, medication, and hospitalization if necessary.
What has really caused this country to mourn this most recent horrific tragedy, even more so than the other senseless mass murders before it is the fact that twenty innocent children had their lives taken from them. The President said that a society is judged by how it cares for its children. “Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?”
WilmerLeonis the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with WilmerLeon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science atHowardUniversityinWashington,D.C. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.twitter.com/drwleon
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