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A Different Perspective: Thinking the unthinkable: Part II

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013

The shouting hasn’t subsided, but seems to be worsening. “Assault weapons” as the media defines them, have leapt off store shelves where they are legally sold, quadrupling in price in some areas. Celebrities who make vast fortunes making movies, often very violent films in which their character liberally dispenses hot lead, for good or ill as the role defines, lecture the public on the evils of violence, especially, “gun violence.” This brings me to my next point. We have a cultural problem in America. It is a narcissistic playground where self-gratification is paramount above all other concerns.

We deny our children healthy outlets while we pursue our own agendas at their expense; we undermine every traditional source of moral authority, we disparage any competition, but we create violent electronic fantasy worlds to occupy endless hours of their time. The military has long recognized that in order to get soldiers to perform their duty on a battlefield, they had to desensitize troops to the innate reluctance of soldiers to kill. Most won’t under virtually any circumstances.

Less than half of World War II troops would use their weapons in combat, about 80 percent did in Vietnam and beyond. That is a result of the conditioning that the military used in weapons training. The Khmer Rouge of Cambodia and other terrorists groups realized this and instituted activities designed to desensitize recruits to killing. Part of this was saturation with violent images followed by progressively more violent activities, culminating in killing a human being.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, an Army psychiatrist, wrote of this phenomena in his book, “On Killing,” a study in the psychological processes of learning to kill in war and society. It’s probably the most thorough study of the issue. His findings clearly establish a link between saturation with violent videos/games and a willingness to kill. The courts won’t let us ban violent video games, but parental supervision combined with public censure and shame might have some effect on the industry.

Then there is the issue of guns. The best study I’ve read on gun control is “Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control” by David Kopel. The executive summary is 37 pages and it thoroughly covers every aspect of the debate. Read it and make up your own mind.

As for gun laws, the thousands on the books don’t perform as promised. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill to ban “assault weapons” provides an illusion of security. Her bill emphasizes superficialities, features giving weapons a military appearance vs. lethality. Ironically, it would require a fellow United States Senator to be photographed and fingerprinted and pay a fee to continue to own the AR-15 semi-automatic weapon currently in his possession, but it wouldn’t stop another Newtown massacre.

If we required weapons with a high rate of cyclic fire to be locked in a secure gun safe except when under the positive control of the owner, we might have prevented Newtown. If Newtown had ballistic doors and officials were armed with use of a nonlethal device, like a taser-gun, the principal might have dropped the Newtown killer like a rock without killing him. A taser could have stunned him until the police arrived. Armed guards helped at Columbine. The school security officer engaged the killer Harris in a parking lot, pinning him down until the police arrived and killed him.

Unfortunately, Columbine was an open campus and the killers simply walked through unlocked doors. The police took two hours to enter the building and a wounded teacher bled to death. Nationally, the police learned a bitter lesson from Columbine and we can do much better as well. However, first we have to start listening to each other and stop shouting.

Al Fonzi is a retired Army Lt. Colonel and career intelligence officer with more than 30 years of service. He is a self-described conservative and active in several political organizations. Fonzi first moved to Atascadero in 1972.

For the complete article see the 01-09-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-09-2013 paper.

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