National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said a week after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. that guns are needed in society because “the good guys” should to be able to protect themselves and their family when a bad guy attacks.
LaPierre’s statement simplifies a debate that has been on the table for almost two decades in an extreme way, so extreme it seems unreasonable.
After LaPierre told CNN that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” NRA’s President David Keene took over as the organization’s official spokesman. However, LaPierre’s statement about good and evil leads to question whether the NRA officials are fully aware of the implications and consequences events like Newtown have, not only over the victims‘ family and affected community but to society as a whole.
Most people over the age of ten should know there is no such thing as “good guys” and “bad guys.”
Life is not black and white. Psychology and common sense supports that there are millions of possibilities and aspects that need to be considered before labeling a person as evil or good.
We cannot filter our minds to believe the concept of good guys that, under the shelter of the law, can own guns or conversely, that there are bad guys who would use guns to harm others.
Also, another weak aspect of the “good vs. evil” theory is that nobody can know for sure in whose hands the good guys’ guns will end up. There are good people who make bad choices in a moment of extreme stress and tension.
There are good people whose minds might have been disturbed by abuse or trauma. There are good people who get confused by external factors like stress and bullying easily. A gun in their hands means a potential danger. Not to mention everyone can have a different definition of what is “good.”
There can always be issues that a community is not aware of and that can cause an individual to react violently.
Nobody is immune to having a moment of stress and no one is safe from encountering a disturbed individual. However, if authorities limit the access to guns, there will be less chance for common people to face an armed attacker.
It is true that guns don’t kill people, other people kill people.
But a disturbed person without a gun is not nearly as dangerous as a disturbed person with a gun, especially with a semi-automatic gun that can shoot more than 150 bullets in less than five minutes, like the Bushmaster AR15 Adam Lanza used last December in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
If we say a good guy uses his firearm to stop a bad guy, couldn’t we say the encounter would have been unnecessary if the bad guy was unarmed?
It should be a major concern of the federal and state authorities to provide people with better mental health care and teach the society that violence shouldn’t be glorified.
We need to be able to identify people who might have problems and that those could lead to violent behavior, so we can provide them the proper treatment and care. However, this process needs to be carefully planned and established and that can take a long time.
Society cannot afford to have any more tragic shootings. Government officials must control the access to guns by increasing background checks, so unstable individuals and stress situations don’t lead to a massive shooting.
Congress should approve legislation that bans weapons that have no use other than causing a massacre.
Semi-automatic guns seem to be battlefield weapons that no individual should own “for protection.” It doesn’t matter if we arm the good or the evil; the more guns there are out there, the more unnecessary violence and innocent deaths we will face.
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at