Our View: Massacre demands safety solutions

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 4:55 PM

Editorial Board

It’s difficult for us to understand why evil occurs. Trying to even think of a criminally insane young man killing 20 first-graders in their classroom, and several educators who tried to protect the children, our imaginations resist visualizing the horror. Yet it happened, and it must be analyzed to find ways to prevent similar occurrences.

In what is usually the case in these tragedies, there is a local angle. One of the victims was Emilie Parker, 6, daughter of Randy and Alyssa Parker, Ben Lomond High graduates.

The most important objective is protecting children in schools. We can’t have schools become a location where we fear for our children’s lives. And they are not as safe as they once were. Regardless of what crime statistics may reveal, there is a disturbing emergence of sociopathic insanity among younger adults. Their odd, sometimes aggressive, anti-social behavior is noticed by family, friends and others, but no action is taken. The end result of this dysfunction is planned mass murder at close range, often followed by planned suicide.

Society may not be able to stop every random act of mass murder by disturbed individuals at public locations, but we have a responsibility to protect schools. Connecticut has strong gun control laws, the elementary school where Adam Lanza, 20, killed 26 persons was a “gun-free zone.”

The aftermath of the massacre demands brainstorming, answers and safety solutions from Congress and the Obama administration. In order to achieve better safety, a wide range of ideas and solutions to improving safety needs to be discussed, and considered. Single-issue advocates, whether it’s gun control or gun rights, need to cede ground and listen rather than preach. Pols need to tune out interest groups.

There are three often-invoked reasons for these mass murders. They include gun control laws that are not strong enough or too restrictive, a lack of emphasis on mental health treatment, and a culture that embraces video games and movies that simulate dysfunctional behavior, such as mass murder, torture and sadistic hard-core pornography.

None of these issues should escape discussion while we find legal solutions to protect youngsters and others from killers.

Here are some ideas that we believe have merit:

Provide a system in which ownership of firearms will require a license, similar to using a vehicle. It is important that individuals who are mentally ill, or display aggressive anti-social behavior, not have easy access to weapons.

Require that an armed law enforcement professional be in all schools. “Gun-free zones” are a farce which allow more time for predators to kill at close range. Children need protection beyond good intentions.

Place more emphasis on mental illness treatment and be aware of and report signs of mental illness. We need to protect the mentally ill as well as others who might be harmed.

Hopefully, the tragic events in Newtown, Conn. will be the catalyst that provide a safer society. It’s our most important priority. Reach a deal on the fiscal cliff, Congress, and get to work on this issue.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.