- Posted December 21, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Owning A Gun Means You Have To Be Responsible
As details started to emerge and it became clear that the weapons were legally purchased and that the gunman was troubled, one thing kept running through my head: What kind of person chooses or allows guns and shooting as an appropriate activity for a son (regardless of their age) that is "troubled" and has a disorder that affects mental capacity?
Over and over I asked myself this as I read articles about Nancy Lanza and saw interviews with people who knew her. I read things like “she was concerned about Adam and wanted him to ft in" and "she mentioned that Adam has Asperger’s." People who knew Adam Lanza described him as "brilliant but troubled" and "a loner." Not one person has said, "Wow, this was a happy normal kid who was thriving in his community who had a great relationship with his mother." Everyone interviewed has been horrified at his actions, yet no one has seemed particularly surprised by them.
So, I have to wonder, why has no journalist out there (at least that I have seen) asked these very same questions about Nancy Lanza? Why has no politician stood up and said, "Enough - we must hold gun owners responsible when they do not properly secure their guns." The media and politicians have no problems describing the actions of Adam Lanza as "evil, horrible, and wrong" - and a host of other adjectives - yet no one has commented about what I believe is the truth of this entire tragedy:
No law on our books could have prevented what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nancy Lanza is the only person who could have prevented this tragedy and she could have done it by simply being a responsible gun owner and securing her weapons in a manner that her troubled and mentally diminished son could not access them. Are her actions - or lack of them in terms of securing her weapons - not just as wrong?
I abhor guns. If I had my way, private citizens would not own guns and semi automatic assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines would be banned. However, I can understand the views of those who are responsible gun owners and who enjoy the use of firearms for hunting and sport. But the right to own guns can not supersede the right to have our citizens safe when they go shopping or our children safe in their classrooms.
I believe that if this country is set on keeping the right to bear arms that not only the process for obtaining a gun needs to change. Gun owners must also be held accountable for the use of their guns. I believe a big part of the answer lies in the penalties for irresponsible gun ownership being so stiff that people will think twice before purchasing guns. I believe that if your guns are used to do harm because they were not properly secured or kept from those who should not have access to them, you have committed a crime, regardless of if you actually pulled the trigger - right up to being an accessory to murder.
In my mind, the issue is not only that it is too easy for people who should not have guns to purchase them. A big part of the problem is that many gun owners simply are not responsible after they do purchase them. They are not practicing proper gun safety and are not properly securing their weapons. If they were, we would not read daily about their kids using their weapons to shoot themselves or their siblings and friends accidentally (or on purpose) or see their troubled relatives, friends, neighbors or even someone who stole their gun from their home or vehicle using their legally purchased guns to perpetrate mass shootings.
It’s fact that the guns used in Newtown and at Clackamas Town Center in Oregon were all legally purchased. It’s also fact that they were used by someone who never should have access to them – as have been the guns used in many other tragic shootings. Had these guns been secured properly by their owners, 31 souls would still be with us. Until gun owners realize that the bed-side night stand, a closet or a lock box with a lock so flimsy that a five year old with a nail file can open it are not appropriate ways to secure weapons or ammunition and that guns should never be left where children or troubled people like Adam Lanza have access to them (and that means access to keys or the combination to the gun safe too), we will continue to see these tragedies.
I didn’t know Nancy Lanza – I have no idea what kind of person she was. But I wonder every day why she thought it would be smart or responsible to keep guns where they were accessible to her troubled son much less encourage him to be involved with firearms given his issues. She may have been the nicest person in the world who paid the ultimate price for her poor decisions, but to me she will always be an accessory to 27 counts of murder, including her own.