By Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
Ironically, a few days ago I was writing an article with the heading, ”….and the pursuit of happiness” — which will appear in a future issue — when the news arrived that 17 high schoolers in Florida were gunned down. They were shot in their school by a depressed, despairing, miserable teenager who has been truly victimized by deaths in his family, abandonments, and had nobody to turn to for solace and support. He turned his anger to suicidal and homicidal malevolence. Carrying an assault rifle and with a plentiful supply of bullets, he proceeded to kill indiscriminately.
Our dead Children, all 9th graders, were on the way to blossom and enjoy their entire life which was in front of them. It was not to be. They are now all dead forever, and — like their parents and many millions of my fellow citizens — I have been grieving ever since for the senseless tragedy — one that has happened so many times in recent history.
To my great amazement, the rational, glaring question is: how a 19-year-old despairing, miserable and possibly deranged, hate-filled young man — declaring his intentions for days — was able to get hold of an assault weapon, along with several rounds of ammunition, and was then able to get inside the school, bypassing an armed policeman? This is an overdue question — since the tragedy has happen so many times before — as to how to prevent deranged young people from obtaining an assault riffle and entering a school with intent to kill.
Instead, organizations (awash in money, mainly millions of dollars in donations by three gun-producing companies in Europe, Belgium, Austria, and Italy) and eager for political power, falsely claiming to protect “the right to bear arms,” any kind of arms, by anybody, with any severe emotional condition, irrationally and foolishly “right-quick” offered as a solution: Arm our teachers.
Expecting our teachers, irrationally, to fight gun battles like the “Shootout In OK Corral.” I can imagine my daughter — a sixth-grade teacher — asking her 13-year-old middle schoolers to “duck and cover, duck and cover” — the same stupid advice of the cold war era against atomic attacks, and herself declaring that she is going to fight a battle. Brandishing her own assault riffle.
As a professional, I have come to realize that it is in our nature as humans to become irrational and even deranged as individuals. In addition, we do so often in groups, being collectively misguided and irrational as the individual troubled ones (lynch mobs, riot killers, or extreme isolated groups like the 1978 Jones followers in the Guyana tragedy of old).
We have to protect ourselves from this defect from happening, as it is embedded in our brain. And I feel this is happening now regarding the handling of guns; of course we can have guns, protected by the second amendment, even if we demand it for our protection from “imaginary enemies”; but, we have to manage them with some rules and regulations similar to the ones of driving a car. Where every so many years we renew our license to drive them. We cannot also allow “monster cars” shown in TV to run amok in the main street of our communities. Above all, political leaders and gun collectors — and our communities as a whole — should ease up the irrational fears and pent-up emotion in handling assault rifles and, for that matter irrationally, even bazookas.
Rational decisions will prevail at the end since our country always finds a solution, even if it takes too long. In this case we should take reasonable measures quickly before the next tragedy.
Meanwhile, I hope the parents of our dead children, who no doubt feel like the tragic hero of the memorable film Jeremiah Johnson, translating their fury — as they already appear to be doing — into unremitting political pressure. Obliging the political leadership into taking rational simple measures to avoid the next tragedy.
Copyright © 2018 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
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