Across America, the issue of gun control has driven a wedge between friends and family. Could anything have been done to prevent the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary? Proponents of gun control ask how many more tragedies will it take before something is done, while gun advocates insist that the current gun laws are strict enough. Like with any controversial issue, this is a debate heavily fueled by emotion on both sides. I’d like to break down what we know about the situation and see if any of the proposed ideas to stop future violence would have in fact prevented this senseless tragedy.
Psychological Screenings for All Gun Purchases
According to the description of the gunman by those who knew him, he was most certainly an introvert. Introverts make up 30-40% of the population, so the media’s classification of him being “quiet”, “shy” and “keeping to himself” isn’t as red of a flag as they would have you believe. If it was, that would mean there are over ~120 million potential school shooters walking around America at this very moment. In addition to being introverted, he suffered from Asperger Syndrome. I do not know if Asperger causes violent behavior, but the experts claim that there is no link between the two.
Connecticut has sort of lax laws when it comes to allowing the mentally handicapped to purchase weapons. Under the current system, it’s highly unlikely that the law alone could have prevented him from purchasing a weapon. His behavior and Asperger syndrome may have been enough to stop a store owner from selling him a weapon, but we will never know, because the gunman did not purchase any weapons.
Do I think individuals suffering from Anti-social personality disorder (ASPD), such as infamous cult leader Charles Manson, should be able to purchase a firearm? No. Do we know if the Connecticut gunman had ASPD or a similar disorder? Unfortunately, we do not. If he was ever diagnosed, that information has not yet come to light.
Let’s say for a moment that Connecticut had stricter gun laws, which actually prevent those suffering with violent mental disorders from purchasing guns. Let’s also say that the gunman had been diagnosed with ASPD or something similar. It would not have stopped him from getting access to weapons. Why? Because he stole the weapons from his mother. Even if psychological screenings were in place, she would have been allowed to purchase weapons. This would not have changed the outcome whatsoever.