- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 16, 2012

“We’ve created a ‘gun-free zone,’ a killing zone, for the sickest criminals on the face of the Earth,” says R. Lee Wrights, vice chairman of the Libertarian Party, in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., killings. “And we’ve made the children of this country the victims.”

The 1990 Federal Gun Free Schools Zone Act, which prohibits carrying firearms on school grounds in most cases, “criminalizes the right to self-defense in places filled with the most vulnerable citizens,” Mr. Wrights says. He argues that would-be shooters would be deterred by “merely the knowledge” that armed people could be present in a potential target area. “They’re not going to walk into a police station, and why not? Because that’s where the guns are,” Mr. Wrights observes, adding that after 9/11, Congress allowed firearms in airline cockpits.

“It’s time to take the same approach with teachers, school administrators, and security guards, who should be allowed to carry the tools necessary to protect the students in their care,” Mr. Wrights adds, insisting that gun-free zone policies should be re-examined.

“We must stop blinding ourselves to the obvious: Most of these mass killings are happening at schools where self-defense is prohibited,” says Carla Howell, executive director of the Libertarian Party. “Gun prohibition sets the stage for the slaughter of innocent children. We must repeal these anti-self-defense laws now to minimize the likelihood they will occur in the future, and to limit the damage done when they do.”

THE NEWTOWN-VIDEO GAME CONNECTION

Some continue to ponder the influence of graphically violent video games and movies following Newtown. “The violence in the entertainment culture — particularly, with the extraordinary realism to video games, movies now, et cetera — does cause vulnerable young men to be more violent. It doesn’t make everybody more violent, but it’s a causative factor in some cases. We ought to ask the entertainment community, what are you going to do to tone that down?” Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent, told Fox News Sunday.

He suggested more scrutiny from Capitol Hill policymakers. “In our society, you always try to do it voluntarily. But I think we’ve come to a point where you’ve got to say, if not, maybe there’s some things we can do to tone it down,” Mr. Lieberman said.

THE NEWTOWN-FAITH CONNECTION

Former presidential hopeful and Fox News host Mike Huckabee had another explanation.

“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” Mr. Huckabee asked.

“Because we’ve made schools a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that,” Mr. Huckabee told Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto.

DISAGREEMENT CULTURE

“The public broadly perceives that Americans themselves are divided over core values. Nearly seven in 10 Americans say the country is divided when it comes to the most important values, while 29 percent believe Americans are largely in agreement and united,” says Gallup analyst Lydia Saad.

New findings reveal that 80 percent of Republicans cite this divide, along with 63 percent of Democrats.

“The difficulty President Obama and Congress are having in coming to agreement on important issues may, therefore, not be unique to Washington; rather, it may generally reflect the way things are — or at least are perceived to be — in the country more broadly. Whether that is a bad thing, or the natural result of the United States’ large size, diversity, and freedoms that allow political arguments to go on unfettered, is a separate issue,” Ms. Saad notes.

THE DEMOCRACY RACE

A new rating of the most “democratic” nations on the planet places the U.S. in 15th place in a list of 104 countries. The Vienna-based Democracy Ranking Assoc. offers an annual assessment of the “quality” of democracy among the populations, taking into account such factors as political rights, civil liberty, press freedom, corruption, political stability, “gender gap” issues and myriad socioeconomic indicators.

The top 10 nations on the list are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland and Austria.

“The United States dropped from ranking position 14 to 15, but improved in scores from 78.3 to 78.5, with gains in politics, environment, health, and knowledge, but losses in economy and gender,” the report said.

Canada, Belgium, Britain and Australia outrank the U.S. The nations with the lowest rankings are Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Libya, Syria and in last place, Yemen. See the findings here: www.democracyranking.org

POLL DU JOUR

• 61 percent of U.S. voters are concerned that Obama administration policies “will move the country toward socialism”; 89 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats agree.

• 49 percent of voters overall say the economy will be better in the next year; 20 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

• 42 percent of voters overall expect President Obama to be considered a great or good president; 7 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

• 38 percent overall expect Mr. Obama to be considered below average, or “one of the worst presidents”; 73 percent of Republicans and 5 percent of Democrats agree.

• 42 percent overall say that 2012 was a “good” year; 28 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent say 2012 was a “bad” year; 57 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox news survey of 1,012 registered U.S. voters conducted Dec. 9-11.

Weary sighs, hopeful accolades to jharper@washingtontimes.com.