The debate over guns that erupted in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., has thus far been mostly waged in pages of newspapers and over the airwaves.
However, once the U.S. Congress begins its new session shortly after the first of the year, this debate will be moved to the front-burner in the political arena.
There is no question guns should be front and center in any debate because in the wrong hands, guns are deadly. In the weeks following the Newtown shooting in which 28 people were killed, including 20 6- and 7-year-old students and six school employees, several other shootings have occurred - with deadly consequences. The most heinous was an incident in which four firefighters were shot responding to a house fire on Christmas Eve in Webster, N.Y. Two of the firefighters were killed. In an apparent premeditated ambush, the gunman, a convicted killer named William Spengler, lured the firefighters to the home by setting a car and a home on fire. After shooting the responders, Spengler killed himself.
Was Spengler insane? He had served more than 17 years in prison for beating his 92-year-old paternal grandmother to death with a hammer in 1980.
There is no doubt he, like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter, 24-year-old Adam Lanza, was a troubled individual. No society, no matter how lax the gun laws should have permitted either access to firearms. But a question that also needs an answer is why were these two people - and the thousands of others, including the man and woman who recently in two separate incidents pushed two people to their deaths in the New York City subways - allowed to live freely in an environment where others were endangered when the bombs went off inside their heads.
So, yes, let us have a discussion. However, to really be serious about this issue, it cannot be just about assault rifles. It needs to include the sick world we have created in which many people exist today.
We are a society that glorifies violence. From the earliest ages, children are bombarded with unimaginable savagery through television programs, movies and video games. Many kids become desensitized to the reality of violence. And while the vast majority of kids who plays a violent video game grows up to become a killer, it should be no surprise that some do. Unfortunately, many of the gun-haters seem to be fine with the raw sewage that passes for popular culture in this country, but immediately blame guns for the problems this culture may cause.
So when President Obama issues that call in January for a discussion of this problem, we hope that discussion will include all of the possible ways to prevent people from becoming monsters.