Fast Focus: It's not about weapons

December 30, 2012 

-- RANDALL S. FONG, Kennewick

Any mass killing is a horrifying event. Amidst our grief and outrage, we tend to remove individual responsibility from the equation and place the blame on a more universal source in our desperate search for a remedy.

So who is to blame so that we may create a solution? Is our American culture at fault? Is it our declining spiritual and moral fiber, or the increasing laxity of violence and aberrant behavior expressed in the media, or the presence of guns and the NRA?

The media seems to play a rather dual role. On the one hand, entertainment cast by the media wantonly glorifies violence, such that with the passage of time we become desensitized to things that would have shocked us only a few years ago. On the other hand, the media bombards us with continuous coverage of real-life violence, making it seem more prevalent than what the statistics show. One wonders whether such media saturation is the tipping point that sparks someone already deranged into a murderous rampage.

But the media falls under the protection of the First Amendment, and in general, rightly so. The blame then shifts from the media's role to some other source, like gun owners, the NRA, and the Second Amendment.

However, removing the means by which a person intends to harm others will not remove the threat. The Hillside Stranglers killed 12 women with rope. The Oklahoma City Bomber used fertilizer to create a bomb killing 168 people. The 9/11 terrorists used mere box-cutters to hijack four planes, killing thousands. And always there are illegal means to obtain lethal weapons. Sadly, where there is a will, there is a way.

How then do we protect ourselves from violence, without creating a crusade to limit, or even annihilate, a constitutional right, and in the process demonizing the millions of law-abiding gun owners, thereby creating more resentment and hate?

We need to see violence for what it is: evil-minded people who became that way for reasons we may never know. The darkness of the human heart has existed since Cain and Abel, well before the advent of firearms, and will be with us in the future. Formulating policy that restricts a constitutional right, whether it be the First Amendment or Second, will not end the violence but merely weaken us as a whole. Instead, as a caring and generous society, we must direct our energies to identify, deter and help such individuals before they act.

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