Philip Joseph Duran and Mark Manes. Ever hear those two names?
You should have. At least you would have if the press had reported the truth. They are inexorably linked to the worst school shooting of our time in 1999 – Columbine. You know Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold even if you were a toddler when that shooting happened. The Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999 so shocked our conscience at the time that its infamy has been passed to the next generation.
Yet almost nobody knows who Duran and Manes are. They were both brought up on charges of selling guns to minors and both spent several years in prison for providing the TEC-9 that Harris used in his rampage. Manes was on electronic monitoring for several years after he was released.
Why do I bring this up? Lee Hirsch, founder of The BULLY Project and maker of the film BULLY, has come out in recent posts championing the recent movement of anti-gun groups claiming they simply want background checks and “all guns secured.” Hirsch may genuinely mean that, but I don’t think he realizes that the statistics he recently provided are misleading.
The leading cause of death among those under the age of 34 is MVAs – Motor Vehicle Accidents. Hirsch claims that guns cause a higher death toll among children and young adults than do cancer and heart disease. What he doesn’t tell you is that cancer and heart disease are still pretty rare among children and young adults. Gun-related deaths may outnumber those medical conditions, but a small child is eight times as likely to drown than to be killed by a gun. As a rescue worker, I run child drownings and MVAs on a routine basis. I’ve run two pediatric codes caused by MVAs so far this year and my fellow responders have run several others. Any idea how many kids I’ve run on this year crashing because of a gunshot wound? How many I ran last year?
Drowning leads the cause of death among small children, followed by accidents and poisonings. Yet there are many who would have us believe that guns are the biggest threat to our children. The claim is being made that gun owners aren’t responsible enough and more needs to be done. None of these fine folks – who I’m sure have good intentions – are focusing on what’s really going on.
Something the press hasn’t mentioned about the Newtown shooting is that the law actually worked. Adam Lanza attempted to buy a rifle and when a background check turned him away, he had to improvise. They also don’t mention much that his mother did have several guns, but kept them locked in a safe. Her guns were secured. Adam found a way around all of these things. Every safeguard these groups say they want was already in place that day and the bad guy still found a way to do what he wanted to do – he stole the guns, killed his mother, and went to the school.
You know what would have stopped him there? A good guy with a gun. It wasn’t possible because our schools have become victim zones. One or two teachers with training could have stopped that monster in his tracks. Unfortunately, people have gotten so focused on simply doing something that they’ve let the facts get muddled.
There are laws in place to provide punishment for people who act as straw purchasers (knowingly buying guns for other people, often because those people can’t legally purchase guns themselves). What about private sellers? I’ve sold a privately-owned firearm before, and I know what the law says. I still have to do due diligence to make sure that the buyer is allowed to own a firearm. If I sell to someone I have even a suspicion shouldn’t have a gun, I can be held at least partially responsible for what they do with it.
Now the activists are in full swing. They’re not just trying to write laws that already exist, they’re going completely overboard. They want to ban all people with a mental illness from being able to purchase a firearm. I’ve even heard some say that PTSD and bipolar disorder should preclude someone from owning a firearm – and I have friends who have gotten letters from the VA informing them that because they have PTSD, they will be required to relinquish their privately-owned guns. Following this logic, I, a rescue worker with PTSD, should never be allowed to have a gun because of the stigma attached to mental illness – a stigma we’ve been fighting for years so that people who need help will seek it.
Suddenly there is no differentiation between those who are a danger to society and those who aren’t, even though we have a mountain of evidence to prove that all of the most recent shooters were clinical psychopaths who left flashing neon trails for everyone to follow. Conservatives are repeatedly targeted as dangerous because we exercise our Second Amendment rights, yet we have proof that the shooters in Aurora, Tucson, and Virginia Tech were all extreme liberals, and the Newtown shooter showed similar tendencies. All four were also highly intelligent, if mentally unstable.
Rather than stop and think, we just have to do something.