It's been a long and difficult week. Along with the usual end of the semester business, the student body is agitated by the tragedy in Connecticut, and there's been a lot of anger, sorrow, and frustration, accompanied by the shouting and flag-waving that's been going on in this forum, too.
Maybe because the class focuses on ethics, maybe because it's the sort of thing people expect from Philosophy, the last group of papers I read (almost all cobbled together over the weekend) at least touched on the murders at Sandy Hook. As you might expect from a group of nineteen-year-olds accustomed to seeing the world in black-and-white binaries, most of them have answers at the ready.
A lot of the answers have more to do with people trying to make sense of what is an essentially evil act- they're not really a solution, they're just trying to return rational order to a world that's turned reason on its head. But there are also a few who've been letting that black-and-white thinking get a hold of them, and they're more than ready to toss out important principles- or worse, human lives- in order to assert what they think is the "right" answer.
Of course, a wise person knows that the best, or sometimes just the only, answers are rarely so simple as that- the world is a lot more complicated, and usually resists our attempts to make it fit into neat, rational compartments. As a rule, the better answers to common problems always take this into account: there are very few issues that don't require a little give-and-take.
In conclusion, I don't have answers, but I do know that a lot of people are making some very bad arguments that won't get us anywhere.
Let me suggest, if we're truly interested in making such tragedies rarer, that we begin not by looking to the pat answers we brought to the discussion, but by asking ourselves what is most important here.