To control or not to control guns. That’s NOT the question. The Elephant in the Room at Newtown

2 Jan

To control or not to control guns.  That’s NOT the question.

From Russel Nieli:

Though both sides in this [guns] dispute have something sensible to say, they’ve missed an elephant in the room either because of willful blindness to anything politically incorrect or because of a lack of real-world experience. I speak of the problems associated with divorce, family breakup, father absence, and the enormous burdens placed on a single mom who must rear a troubled male child alone.

Adam Lanza was not normal. He suffered from morbid shyness and an inability to connect with his student peers and anyone else—a cold, withdrawn, hollow shell of a person to his classmates, an Asperger’s patient to professional psychologists. Even under the best of circumstances—with a loving, caring, two-parent family consisting of a husband and wife who complemented each other’s strengths and worked together as a team—raising someone like Adam Lanza would be a real challenge.

One can’t say how he might have turned out under different circumstances, but statistics show that having divorced parents, as Lanza did, plus a father who moves out of the household, remarries, and has little contact with his son for long stretches of time, is not the ideal formula for successful childrearing. Yet what sociologists call “family structure issues” were rarely discussed in the media, not even on conservative talk radio where one might have expected them to have a preeminent place. Most Americans, it seems, have so many divorced or single-parent neighbors, friends, and relatives (if they are not themselves divorced or living as single parents) that discussing family structure is simply too painful and too sensitive to be taken up in any honest or candid manner.

Read the whole thing

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2 Responses to “To control or not to control guns. That’s NOT the question. The Elephant in the Room at Newtown”

  1. J. Palmer January 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    But isn’t doing something about gun accessibility/killing power much more feasible than “fixing” family structure issues?

    Fatherless children are certainly more at risk to take from society than to contribute to it, and that should make the headlines, but what solutions really exist? Maybe people aren’t discussing it because there are no good solutions.

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  2. thereformedmind January 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Thanks for the comment. A quick fix that doesn’t address the root cause is only marginally helpful. Further, it’s not clear to many researchers whether gun control has any effect on crime (either to contribute to it or undermine a victim’s self-defense). As far as family breakdown goes, you are right to point to the complexity. I will say that family arrangements are spoken about a lot in our universities and in the entertainment media and the message is always the same. It doesn’t matter. All you need is love. But sociologists who study child-outcomes know that this is false. It does matter, especially the presence of the father. One thing that can be done is to stop disincentivising family breakdown in our public assistance policies and programs; also government can stop directly competing with or crowding out functions that are properly the sphere of families (more parental control over education, for instance). But most of what we need to do to address this issue will not be done collectively through government but privately in our communities, schools, families and as individuals.

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