"Guns don't kill people. People kill people."
That NRA bumper-sticker slogan is meant to mitigate the involvement of weapons in the killing of one person by another -- or the slaughter of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school.
Guns, in fact, kill people.
When those objects are at hand, at that moment, their existence and availability are to blame. And their existence and availability are directly related to society's wish to make them available. Thus, society condones the potential of the murder of 20 children. The potential for murder is inherent in the existence of the gun.
And it's true that the potential for murder is also inherent in others tools -- like shovels, baseball bats, and knives. But only the gun is efficient. Their efficiency makes murder, and mass murder in particular, more likely. The Newtown, Conn. massacre would not have happened if guns didn't exist and one crazed man didn't have access to them. That cannot be refuted.
The second half of the propaganda is true. People kill people.
Presumably, the man who killed 20 six- and seven-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary suffered a psychotic break, propelling him into a course of action made possible by living in a gun-rich environment in a society that consciously and continuously heralds guns as attention-getters and problem solvers. Ironic that Americans have romanticized cars and guns, the two most deadly tools invented by humans.
And of course, America's second amendment right to bear arms makes all arguments moot. At least in the eyes of some vocal Americans. But the original intent had to do with the security of a free state through the existence of armed militias in a time when guns were less efficient, the state actually had enemies, and the possibility of a single man committing 26 individual acts of murder in mere seconds wasn't even a remote possibility.
While society's outrage and indignation appears to be directed mostly at the killer, many are now at least glancing towards the mirror and admitting that just maybe we need to look more at mental health issues and pour resources into helping those in mental anguish.
That society puts the right to own deadly weapons over the right to life, liberty, and security of the person appears to be a contradiction. The only way the two can co-exist is by taking seriously the need for, and funding of, proper mental health care resources and services. And the media, in all of its invasive forms, must be to blame for creating a false reality – an X-Box reality, a Criminal Minds reality, a sensational-headlines reality, a reality TV reality. Society becomes what it’s told it is and the lines blur as the moral compass drifts.
And in the end, it's media that thrives on and perpetuates the horror of mass murder. It's television and movies that keep a numbing and steady diet of death in front of us. So numbing that many come to believe unnatural death is a common and perhaps acceptable part of day-to-day right-to-bear-arms collateral damage. Unnatural death is never acceptable.
We need to stop pretending we're surprised by each new mass murder. We need to be ashamed by our own hypocrisy.