Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown, CT., Guns and Deeper Issues

My heart broke as news of the senseless slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut broke in the media yesterday.  Any parent or compassionate person could only weep as the stories of those beautiful young people, the brave teachers and staff and the heroic first-responders swept across our screens throughout the day.

And as usual, many people’s attention turned again to gun ownership and the debate over the 2nd Amendment as emotions ran high.

I respect the rights of people who embrace the 2nd Amendment.  Many of these people are good friends of mine who quote statistics that support their right to bear arms.

I also respect the view of many people who are against the 2nd Amendment.  They also produce statistics that support their belief that weapons contribute to violent crime in America.

Personally, while I am not against people’s right to bear arms, I will never have a gun in my home.

But there is something important to note here.  While guns are an enabler to horrific crime, I believe there is a deeper issue here.

Looking at the UN’s 2012 statistics on homicide rates and focusing on the G7, representing “the greatest democracies” in the world, a disturbing statistic is revealed.

Here are the murders per 100,000 people as noted in the 2012 study for the G7:

Japan - 0.3

Germany - 0.8

Italy  - 0.9

France - 1.1

UK - 1.2

Canada - 1.6

And in the nation that I love so dearly ….

US - 4.2


Why does the nation that is self-described as the nation of brotherly love and built upon freedom and respect have a per capita murder rate far higher than the other G7 nations?

Are guns the reason or are they merely the enabler to an intent that would be carried out regardless?

I remember reading 35 years ago, during a 2nd Amendment debate, when someone sarcastically said:

“Take away guns and we will have to kill each other with clubs, knives and other messy things”.

Isn’t that the truth?

When we have intent to kill, we will use whatever we have at hand.

Don’t believe me?

On May 18, 1927, Andrew Kehoe detonated a bomb at an elementary school in Bath, Michigan that killed 45 people (including 38 elementary school students) and injured 58 others.

The Oklahoma City bombing that occurred on April 19, 1995 and which killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6, didn’t involve guns either.

Guns do make it easier to kill people, especially when mental illness is an issue or anger suddenly overwhelms someone’s ability to think coherently.

But I think there is another question to be answered here.

Why do Americans feel compelled to kill each other far more than any other nation in the G7?

Even anti-gun advocates like Michael Moore promote violence in other forms.  For example, he created an election commercial in 2012 that contained the following content:

“One 75-year-old woman pledges to "c**k punch" Obama's Republican rival Mitt Romney if he wins the election, while a 97-year-old friend suggests she'll "burn this motherf**ker down" if the wrong man gets elected to the White House”

And in a recent interview when he said:

“Things got better when Reagan voters died.”

Sounds like he’s all about peaceful, respectful solutions, doesn’t it?

Or how about actor Jamie Foxx, in referring to his most recent movie, when he talked about how cool it would be to be killing all the white people.

Or the worldwide sensation, South Korean rapper Psy, who was made a guest in America (and the President) even after it was discovered that he had implored people to rise up and kill American military personnel and their families.

Ahhh .. with role models like this …..

Gun control in itself won’t solve the issues faced by America.  300 million firearms are already on the street.  It’s too late to close the barn door on this one – the horse has long since bolted and those weapons will never be easily recalled.

Background checks don’t work.  Apparently, the assailant in the Newtown, CT. case allegedly had mental concerns but stole the weapons from his mother, the registered owner of the weapons.

In regards to background checks, another disturbing fact is that 40% of weapons in the US are bought at gun shows where background checks are not even required. Amazing.

Two statistics that are not trending in the right direction

I have written in the past about two dangerous statistics in America that are colliding.

1. The number of weapons available in America, not just weapons for self defense but people-killers designed for offensive action, continue to grow.

2. The per capita statistics regarding mental illness and even severe mental strain in America continue to grow significantly in the wrong direction.

These are not two statistics that I want to see growing inside the same nation.  It is an obvious recipe that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict where it will takes us.

Today, the media gropes for the motive of a disturbed mind that we will never truly have 100% insight into.

However, this disturbed mind is indicative of a deeper ticking time bomb in America and I don’t see us attempting to address this time bomb with any sense of urgency.

Sadly, humans will always find reasons to kill each other.  We cannot legislate or pray away the anger or illness that exists in many people.

However, when the US’s homicide rate in general is much higher than the other G7 nations, I believe we need to explore deeper issues.

What do you believe?

Today we grieve ….

Today, we grieve with the families of those who lost loved ones and we offer our unconditional love and support.  The majority of us will move on and this event will fade from our memories.  Those families will never have that luxury.

We pray for those who were lost. 

We also say a prayer of gratitude for the first-responders who have to deal with these horrors for the rest of their lives, horrors that most of us wouldn’t have the courage or strength to deal with.

But tomorrow ….

But tomorrow, we have to do something measurable instead of what we do best … yelling and screaming at each other while producing little of measurable value.

The lives lost in Newtown, CT. demand such action.

The lives we will save tomorrow demand it also.

What do you demand?

In service and servanthood,



  1. Harry,

    Here's the answer, in a Native American story:

    An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story.

    I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

    But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

    But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.

    Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

    The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

    The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."

    We American's are feeding ourselves with the wrong spiritual, emotional, and mental food.

  2. I love it, Kevin - thank you for sharing this story.

    Now the question becomes ... what and how do we feed ourselves better?

    Create a great day, Kevin!