If there is such a thing as a silver lining from the tragedy at Franklin Regional High School last week, it is this: nobody died. But if there had been two firearms involved instead of two knives, it might have been a whole ‘nother ball game.
Sadly, it didn’t take but 48 hours for some idiot gun wacko from Shaler to write an insipid letter to the Post-Gazette blathering about whether or not liberals were going to demand knife control now. I’m sure he thought he was being clever making such a ridiculous analogy, and obviously he has no sense of decency being in such haste to use that horrible tragedy to make a political statement so blithely, completely oblivious to the human suffering of that horrific event.
Needless to say, he was roundly hammered in the comments section by most of the commenters. And to be fair, two of the regular and more vocal gun proponents even slammed him good, although I’m not sure if they truly believed that he had gone beyond the pale or if they were merely engaging in damage control, concerned that his oblivious callousness was bad for their image.
His complete lack of critical thinking apparently made him unable to grasp the lessons from this tragedy, and there are a couple – starting with what one would think is a no-brainer. The fact that nobody died is an obvious testament to the fact that knives are a lot less lethal than automatic and semi-automatic firearms with high capacity magazines and are not even close to being capable to inflict massive amounts of carnage in a very short time or even seconds.
A second lesson that is clear is the refutation of the ubiquitous talking point of the gun lobby, namely that a “good guy with a gun is needed to stop a bad guy with a gun”. The kid at Franklin Regional was taken down by two unarmed people – a 60 year old vice-principal and a student. This is usually not possible with a firearm because of the ability of the firearm wielding attacker to kill or maim from a distance – something not possible with a knife. You have to get ”up close and personal” in order to do damage, making it possible for a defender to be in close enough proximity to take down or disarm the attacker.
One of the most important lessons here is not specific to this incident, but instead is a lesson learned from all of the myriad incidents that have happened in schools/public places over the years: there is no way to know just who is going to snap out and go berserk when. So if we can never know when or where somebody is going to go off, it seems that the rational thing to do is to make access to killing machines very, very difficult. It is a surprisingly simple concept. 0 guns = 0 gun deaths; whereas a huge number of guns equals a huge number of gun deaths. Obviously, zero guns is unrealistic, but we can work toward limiting the number to a manageable level, especially those that serve no useful function other than to kill large numbers of people as quickly as possible.
If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, you don’t build structures to house people that are precipitously fragile. And the unlimited proliferation of these killing machines makes our house precipitously fragile.