Sunday, November 23, 2014

Preventing Newtown-like attacks will require more than tighter gun controls
Posted on Dec. 23, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

Editor's note: Central in the public debate in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre has been whether new gun-control measures are merited. Here some locals speak out on why drastic new controls aren't necessarily the way to go. Click here to get the other side of the argument, why controls are needed.

Like seemingly everyone, Brad Rupert, a gun store operator, was jolted by the Dec. 14 Newtown massacre.

“I look at the events of last week in horror, like everybody else,” he said. The immediate response, though, shouldn't necessarily be to crack down on guns. The issue is much broader than just that.

The initial step should be to figure out what spurred alleged gunman Adam Lanza in the first place to get at the root cause. Media reports have indicated Lanza may have had mental health issues, which, for some, points to the need for better mental health care offerings to forestall such violent outbursts.

Even without guns, violence would persist, and those bent on mayhem will find a way to wreak havoc. “We can ban every gun there is, but can we truly make everybody safe?” said Rupert, general manager of Midwest Gun and Range in Elkhart and Midwest Gun Exchange and Range in Mishawaka.

Similarly, State Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, thinks the important thing is to look for fixes to real, identifiable problems, maybe in provision of mental health care. No knee-jerk responses just to create a false sense of being on top of things.

“It's not a gun-control issue. It's a society issue,” he said. He went further, saying those who think tighter gun restrictions are the solution are “sadly mistaken.”

State Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart, said there's the human element to contend with in violent attacks and lawmakers “cannot legislate human behavior.” Beyond that, he noted that Washington, D.C., and Chicago have some of the strictest gun regulations in the country and, along with it, among the highest rates of violence.

“It's not going to be a quick fix,” Neese said.