Don’t blame ‘tools’ for killings 
caused by deranged individuals

By Matt Soper

Take your pick: knifings in China, bombings in Syria, shootings in the United States: Who’d have thought an elementary education is about survival? This past week saw 20 students murdered in Connecticut, 22 students stabbed in central China and 29 students killed by a mortar in Damascus.

Opponents of guns have quickly taken to the bully pulpit to point out the Second Amendment’s barrier to domestic security. What if guns are illegal or it’s illegal to run a plane into a skyscraper or bomb a school or stab innocent children? Does a law make “bad stuff” go away?

Evil does not exist within a gun, a plane or a box cutter-knife. Evil exists in the malicious minds and actions of those who turn thoughts into deeds. The real crazies in society will accomplish their evil deed regardless of if the actions are illegal, the implementation device is illegal or the geographic location is marked a “safe zone.”

Connecticut has one of the strictest gun control laws in the country, yet a strict law doesn’t stop a thief. Adam Lanza broke state laws of theft, murder, entering a school zone with a dangerous weapon and concealing a firearm. Lanza was guaranteed no one would be able to shoot him for a long while, as he was in a “safe zone.”

No one talks about the Colorado Springs shooting of 2007, in which a mass-murderer began shooting parishioners in a church. That’s because a member of the congregation shot the murderer before the act progressed to the international news stage.

When can the conversation move from the tools used to harm innocent victims to the perpetrators and mental health in America?

As early as 2008, a school psychologist noted that Lanza cannot feel pain emotionally. Likewise, Jared Loughner, who shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was deemed unfit to serve in the military for mental health reasons. James Holmes, the perpetrator of the Aurora theater murders, dropped out of neuroscience for severe depression and mental disturbances. Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold expressed tremendous warning signs of mental issues through their numerous blogs and membership in the “trench-coat mafia.”

Additionally, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who used bombs instead of guns to further their evil acts in Oklahoma City, were recognized as early as high school as suffering severe psychological conditions and being unable to express emotion.

Society can wonder why mass murderers, such as Lanza, Loughner and Holmes, along with Harris and Klebold and McVeigh and Nichols, do not respect current laws. But society should be reasonably certain that these characters won’t respect future laws.

Of these, the only perpetrators who acquired their weapon legally were McVeigh and Nichols. They purchased fertilizer from a local farm co-op. By the way, their bomb killed 169 and injured nearly 700 in Oklahoma City.

Real crazies don’t heed legal restrictions, They will accomplish their evil deeds regardless of the lawfulness of their weapon or act. Focusing on gun control is like blaming condom malfunctions for unwanted pregnancies.

When does society begin the conversation of focusing on people and mental health and not on the tools used for evil acts?

While a famous Harvard Medical study found no direct correlation between video games and adolescents’ increased aggressive behavior, the University of Washington’s Psychosocial Epidemiologic Department has found a correlation between a pattern of video game play and aggressive behavior, such as school shootings. It seems reasonable for society to look more to the root causes, such as mental health, PTSD and the increase in violent video games and films.

The shootings across the United States — from Oregon to Colorado to Connecticut — have brought the issue of what can society do back to the forefront. Unfortunately, the public debate is gearing more toward the tools used by perpetrators of mass murder rather than focusing on the root causes.

If our society truly cares about preventing future mass shootings, then the debate needs to look to mental health and aggravating factors such as violent video games and films.

Matt Soper is a resident of Delta County and an alumnus of Colorado Mesa University and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law. He is earning a post-graduate degree in law from the University of New Hampshire. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Thank you Mr. Matt Soper for a well thought out position piece on where the real focus should be in the aftermath of the shootings in Connecticut and other crimes around the nation and globe. The focus should be on the perpetrators and not the weapon of choice at the time. Obesity is the leading health risk in the world today and preventable health issues are the number one killer, should we immediately call for the prohibition on the sale of forks and spoons?

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