Preventing Another Newtown Massacre — Guns Aren’t the Problem

In a savage attack, over 20 children were murdered execution style in Connecticut. It is still hard to understand and is abhorrent to all decent people.

Thomas Purcell is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Thomas Purcell is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

As a result, Americans are being cajoled into thinking the responsibility of this massacre falls upon guns and the NRA. We are hearing that we need legislation to restrict the use of guns — in particular, semi-automatic weapons — in an effort to stem the tide of violence from our supposed gun culture here in America.

The problem is, there is no “gun culture” in America. While tragic, the deaths are by no means unique. More importantly, in the scheme of things, the alleged shooter — Adam Lanza — was a rookie.

On a cold Japanese night, Mutsuo Toi, a 21-year-old man, killed 30 people in 1938, including his grandmother, with a sword and axe, and seriously injured three others before killing himself with a shotgun.

In 1927, Andrew Philip Kehoe set off a number bombs in a Bath, MI school, killing 40 children and 4 adults before killing himself in an explosion.

In Korea in 1982, Woo Bum-kon, using grenades and a carbine killed 57 people (including himself) in South Korea.

The list is endless, going back to the year 1875, long before the invention of semi-automatic weapons, when Alexander “Sandy” Keith used time bombs to kill over 200 people in a mass murder spree in Bremerham, Germany.

The killers did not come from a gun culture nor did they extensively use guns. Our society by historical standards is peaceful and non-violent compared to other civilizations, both past and present. Can you compare the violence in American society today to the wars in Uganda where entire populations are being executed? Or compare us to most of South America, where the murder rate is ten times that of America and people are being killed so fast they are burying them in trenches?

A more intelligent discussion of mass murder sprees results in one asking the question — what do these killers have in common? And, what causes people to act in this fashion?

The answer, while not easy to understand, is obvious. They all felt disenfranchised with society and are unhappy with themselves, mental infirmity or not.

We have to ask ourselves, given the fact that there has been a recent upswing in killing spree, what is causing the uptick? A careful examination results in a point of note, that as we emphasize being successful and defining success so narrowly in our entitlement based society, we increase the pressure on the individual, and sometimes that individual cracks. Society now puts more pressure than ever on being popular, rich or famous.

As a result, when a person suddenly has a financial or emotional setback (like losing a wife or daughter), the individual sees his life as being ruined and therefore damaged. He strikes back in the only way he knows how — through violence — and seeks to hurt society as they have hurt him, preferably in way that is most shocking and causes them most fame. If he can’t be famous in life, perhaps he can in death.

In each of the cases above, and in a shocking amount of other cases, the murderer was alienated from normal society by either poverty or social dysfunction. This is why so many of the killers are from well-to-do families — they cannot hope to meet the standard set before them and thus they strike out. They feel empowered by the death and destruction they wreak on society.

“I’ll fix you.”

The answer is not gun control or more regulation restricting the freedoms we enjoy. In fact, that may make matters worse. As government takes more and more control, we are less empowered as individuals and closer to the breaking point. Recently, we have had more of these incidents. Government is reducing the human spirit, breaking independence, and defining success in ways that many people either do not want or can’t achieve. The media exacerbates this, by making stars out of people for being sexual icons, fashion icons or just being rich. They emphasize the role of fame in a person’s life rather than how they treat others. The virtues of thrift, charity and work ethic are given a back seat.

The only solution is to expand what success is, and allow people to be who they will be, de-emphasizing riches and fame. Re-introduce the traditional family values of various faiths (not religion itself) and promote traditional American values. Combined with an improved mental health system, which will treat these people through reassessing goals and purpose rather than medications and isolation, perhaps we can reduce these types of incidences, as it is impossible to eliminate them.

Lastly, we must put down the legislator’s pen as the answer to everything. Legislation cannot fix the desperate acts of mentally weary society.



  1. VERY GOOD —

  2. A year ago I would have said, “yeah, I see your point”. As of today I say sure guns are not THE problem but they are part of the solution. Guns are not solely to blame, nor is mental health or violence on TV or corn starch or any other singular solutions we’ve heard thrown about after every violence spree recently… BUT restricting access to guns is PART of the solution and we can’t ignore that we have a problem that needs solving. I am but one hunting, gun-owning conservative american but I can tell you that I’ve had enough and I’m no longer standing on principal because frankly the view from up there is disturbing… people are using legal guns to massacre innocents and it’s not conscionable anymore. Attack what I say but know that I represent a large segment of America that will view your message much differently after all of the recent killings, specifically Newtown. Your attacks aren’t going to change my mind and they aren’t going to be effective with people who aren’t willing to let this go on in our country anymore. I suggest you become part of the discussion in a meaningful way instead of relying on rhetoric that isn’t going to have any traction outside of your membership going forward. Do you really think this kid could have killed more than two people with sword before someone was able to overtake him? And do you think he premeditated this attack long enough to acquire all the parts for a bomb, which he would have had to build in his house over a long period of time? Stop already. People aren’t idiots. Guns really do kill people, it’s a medical fact that we’re proving all to often these days.


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  2. […] Preventing Another Newtown Massacre – Guns Aren’t the Problem […]

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