Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Norway- A Year in Retrospect

The United States has had more than its share of gun violence this year. I don't really have the desire to list all of it but I thought it might help get more of this into perspective to take a look on the other side of the world where they are grieving still at the tragedy in Norway. On July 22, 2011 a right-wing extremist picked up an assault weapon and killed no less than 77 people- eight at a Government building by bombing and 69 summer campers on Utoya Island. Most of his victims were mere teenagers. For this heinous, premeditated attack that was clearly a case of political terrorism he received a sentence of only 21 years this past summer after he made sure he was declared sane before he went to trial. Instead of showing any remorse over this act he was allowed to speak at the sentencing. He basically told everyone that his only remorse was that he didn't kill more people and apologized to his 'militant nationalist constituents' for not achieving an even higher death toll.
     This is the true profile of what I call a monster in society. They are not dangerous to themselves- only those who disagree with them or they perceive to be some type of threat. A pretrial assessment that this man is sane, however, is a travesty that becomes a necessity when we realize that there are certain criminals who cannot be rehabilitated with any assurance that they would be safe for society. I cannot even begin to understand how someone becomes this evil and I'm sure that in some ways I don't want to know. We can't afford not to try to understand, however. It has become too prevalent, persistent and rampant.
     I'm not that interested in stopgap procedures for trying to curtail an epidemic that is out of control. Gun laws are in many ways so insufficient that it seems to have no effect. We already have gun laws in the U.S. and yet it didn't stop this from being a record breaking year for all types of gun violence. When I read about the trial this past summer in Norway there was an article on the shoot out in New York City (between a lone gunman and police in which 9 innocent people were shot just by being in the line of fire) right next to it. Obviously, guns do not stand trial- but people do and should for these acts, premeditated or otherwise. Should we take guns out of the hands of the police force? Then what ?
     Perhaps gun laws should be studied a little closer for the actual uses and more control should be exerted on gun makers- particularly those who make assault weapons. Instead of having several factions as separate entities, fighting over civil rights specters, we should have all (gun makers and owners, law enforcement, politicians, law makers and victims of violence) come together to make agreements about how we're going to deal with the fact that too many innocent people are being blown away by guns that were intended for war. This makes more sense than letting only people who feel more secure by owning guns to lead the way with the NRA and other gun rights coalitions. Obviously, gun laws affect all of us so we should all have a voice in what types of laws are dispensed by our government. It's the only right and fair choice for a democracy.
     Remember the 70s adage When guns are outlawed then only outlaws will have guns?  This is not passé. It has become a reality. Let's all vow that in 2013 we're going to turn violence around and start dealing with the people who perpetrate it. It's imperative that we do it now.
Sincerely submitted by
The Castle Lady

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