By G. Michael Dobbs
I shouldn't be surprised that there is an active movement to discredit what happened at the Sandy Hook school last month.
Already we have people forwarding theories that the Newtown, Conn., murders did not happen as detailed in the press and instead was a conspiracy to further erode the rights of gun owners. The Christian Science Monitor reported that "truthers" have harassed Newtown resident Gene Rosen who gave shelter to children who escaped from the Sandy Hook school claiming he is a paid actor.
There has also been buzz about a photo of President Barack Obama that allegedly pictures one of the children supposedly killed by gunman Adam Lanza with the president.
A professor at Florida Atlantic University made statements that received some media traction that there are elements of the tragedy that were "synthetic to some degree" in his opinion.
The basic message is the Obama Administration – one that until the shooting had not advanced any effort on gun control – had fabricated the murders in order to justify the draconian measures to take away legally held firearms.
Some of my conservative Facebook friends are circulating memes with that message. They see the federal government as the enemy – naturally since we have a Democratic president – and I have to wonder if Mitt Romney had won and if he proposed similar measures in reaction to the event at Newtown if he would be so vilified.
I would be surprised if that had been the case.
I saw a new meme that basically said American citizens should have the same kind of arms the U.S. military has in order to prevent the military being used against the citizenry. Is this a concern you share? Do you fear our service men and women? What have they done in the past to deserve such a concern?
To me, the partisan politics and the conspiracy theorist provide the media distraction from the central issues. We need to better define exactly what the Second Amendment means in 2013. The Constitution is a marvelous living document, but it is a document reflecting the times in which it was drafted. Remember the 18th Amendment?
This is the Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." What does that mean to you?
We must also address just why America is as violent as it is. Is it our culture? Is it a condition of wide spread poverty? Here is something new to consider: this past weekend another mass murder took place, this one in Albuquerque, N.M., in which five people were killed and a 15 year-old boy was taken into custody by police. The victims were two adults and three children and according to news reports they were each shot several times.
Despite all of the recent conversations about violence, it blithely marches on.
Some gun advocates have said that knives and blunt objects kill more Americans each year than guns. According to the FBI crime statistics for 2011, 67.8 percent of homicides were committed with firearms. Knives and other cutting instruments were at 13.4 percent. Blunt objects came in at 3.9 percent and deaths by personal weapons (hands, fists, feet) were at 5.7 percent.
I'm sure their response would be one can't trust the FBI.
The extreme response that some gun owners have reflects a belief their ownership of guns solves a problem. Their mere presence provides with the security they need to prevent them from the bad things they hear about on the evening news from happening to them.
And yet, where is the evidence to support that assumption? FBI statistics show that murders by handguns have dropped from a recent high in 1994 of 13,496 to 6,220 in 2011. Was this drop due to the arming of America or was it because of other factors, such as more effective policing?
Right now we don't need hysterical theories or political ideology. We need to look at the reasons behind the violence and address them.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.