Another mass shooting. That makes 36 since Columbine (at least 36- I’m not sure I got them all). Not to mention the literally hundreds of thousands of deaths – not of the mass variety – caused by guns in the same time frame. If you use an average of 30K gun related deaths in the U.S. every year that is 480,000 since 1999. And that figure is conservative.
I have many members of my extended family who are card carrying NRA members, libertarians, gun enthusiasts – and I love them all. But on this issue we will never agree. I cannot accept their defense of their ‘right’ to carry a gun – any gun – when it feels to me like a dismissal of the deaths of so many people.
When the Bill of Rights was drafted, the right to bear arms was put in as an afterthought, and had a lot more to do with preventing a standing army than allowing Americans to carry an arsenal on their back. (See Michael Waldman’s excellent book “The 2nd Amendment – a biography“) Now we have a standing army, so the 2nd Amendment, if you are looking at it from the Founders point of view, failed. But if you want to wrap yourself in the Bill of Rights, then how about this? I agree to allow every man, woman and child in this country to carry a muzzle loader. Sharpshooters during the Revolution were expected to get off 3 shots in a minute; the average person might manage 1 or 2. If you shoot one person and it takes you a 30 seconds or more to reload, you likely aren’t going to get the chance to shoot anyone else.
Shame on us for using our Bill of Rights to defend violence and extrapolate that the Founders would support citizens carrying AK47s or semi-automatic pistols or whatever the deadliest thing is that can shoot hundreds of rounds a minute. Shame, shame, eternal shame.
My kids and I have an ongoing discussion about the fact that our culture disparages displays of affection and love as inappropriate – a film that show sex in any way that might be depicted as graphic is getting an R rating for sure – but the Hunger Games movie, in which kids kill other kids in cold blood was rated PG13.
It should trouble all of us that the people who refuse to consider banning assault weapons are often the same people who oppose allowing two people who love each other to get married. We as a nation value the ability to shoot many people at random over the ability to love the person of our choosing.
There is something very, very wrong about that.
People who oppose regulations say things like “guns don’t kill people, people do.” To which I respond, “True, but a person with a gun will kill a lot more people than a person without a gun.” Or they point out that there are already lots of state gun laws in place that just don’t get enforced, so we don’t need more. I’ve thought a lot about that, and have decided that a state law that goes unenforced cannot be held up as a reason against implementing nationwide regulations for the types of guns that can be purchased and the procedure for purchasing them. Another argument is that if it is harder to get guns legally, only criminals will have them. If that were the case, then every country with strict gun control laws would still have gun deaths because we are not the only country with criminals. Do some research on your own on gun related deaths in England and Australia, and then get back to me about the whole ‘gun control helps criminals’ slant.
Gun advocates believe that any kind of nationwide gun control will mean the government is taking away their freedom. Ask the people of England or Germany or Australia or even Canada if they feel they are less free for not being allowed to carry assault weapons. They will laugh in your face. Would we be any less free if the only firearms allowed were shotguns? And to get one you had to take a course, pass a test and wait several weeks for your license? And then if you wanted a handgun, you’d have to go through more training, take another test and wait a few more weeks? And concealed carry would be banned completely? Can you sit quietly with yourself and honestly tell me that such a thing would be bad for our society in the long run?
If your response is “ok, but we are guaranteed the right to carry guns in our constitution” then see my third and fourth paragraphs above. We cannot use the 2nd Amendment as an excuse to do nothing. We simply cannot allow the NRA and those who profit from guns, ammunition and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens to continue to prevail on this issue.
Yesterday the President spoke about the Oregon shooting. His frustration and anger were palpable, though he never raised his voice. I implore everyone to watch this clip; if you are a Republican or Libertarian, please try to avoid dismissing what he says because he doesn’t belong to your party, or because you disagree with him on most issues. I don’t agree with him on everything either, but this? This should not even be a discussion. We should value life above weapons.
And it is increasingly clear that we don’t.