The Least We Can Do

My heart goes out to Sandy Hook Elementary and its families, to Newtown and all those swept up in this wrenching, awful tragedy, and to those for whom this brings back memories of other mass murders.

Who the shooter was and why he did this horrific thing is, of course, on my mind. But more than any other question I want the answer to is this:

How many people have to die, how many of our fellow citizens will be massacred before the people of this country stand up and say ENOUGH!

Enough of living in a country where the right to have a gun is more important and better protected than the right to feel safe in public spaces, to assemble, to send a child to school in the morning or a theater in the afternoon without having to fear  she may become the next victim of a mass murder.

Enough of living in armed camps because doing so suits someone’s idea of safety.

Enough with suggesting we live in a world where educators are armed; where hospital workers, librarians, baby-sitters, little league coaches, servers, soccer moms, and movie ticket takers carry weapons to make us safer.

Enough with that bullshit. Because that’s what it is: utter bullshit.

More guns will do nothing to lessen the likelihood that something like this will occur again; in fact, arming more people will result in more death. Studies show that having a firearm in the home increases rather than decreases your chance of violent injury or death. In a 2009 peer-reviewed study, “University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that, on average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.” More guns will not save lives.

I don’t own a gun; I have no desire to. And yes, if given a choice, I would live in a world where only law enforcement and the military were armed. But I recognize others have the right to bear arms, so I’m not going to mount an argument to take guns away from my fellow citizens.

481884_492615064112690_1348433964_nI do, however, assert that I have a legitimate interest in the consequences of others’ gun ownership. I have a legitimate right to argue for more gun safety. I have the right to ask that those who legally possess guns are trained to use them, are licensed to carry them, and are allowed to acquire them only after going through procedures at least as rigorous as those involved in getting a driver’s license or going through airport security. I have the right to ask that gun owners be required to register and insure their guns just as I have to register and ensure my vehicle, with yearly license renewals and insurance fees based on the value of that firearm.

While I grant others the option of owning a firearm, I can see no justification for allowing anyone other than the military access to weapons of war. There is no fundamental or inalienable “right” to own machines for mass killing.  Nothing justifies the need for guns which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and which make continuous firing easy. These weapons have no reasonable civilian purpose, and their sale should be restricted; this can be done without violating anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

We don’t need, and I don’t want gun control.

What we need and what I want are effective gun laws that will lessen the likelihood that someone can enter a mall, a school, a movie theater, a place of worship and kill so many. We need regulations that will make it more difficult for the criminally minded, for the dangerously mentally ill, and for the suicidal to buy guns and ammunition, especially those firearms that can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and which make continuous firing so easy. We also need to close the gun-show loophole.

Whether you are a hunter, a collector, or someone who is convinced having a firearm makes you safer, none of these ideas impinge upon your rights. So let’s agree to move forward and to do what we can to ensure others don’t have to live in fear of a massacre.  It’s the least we can do.

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5 Responses to The Least We Can Do

  1. Doc says:

    Right on–on all points. We also need to restore the support for the mentally troubled, support that has been whittled away by Republican legislators across the country. Mrs. Lanza apparently could afford help for her son, but not everyone is so fortunate.
    I posted about mass shootings over and my blog, You might be interested.

  2. Doc says:

    Oops–rereading I see that I implied Ms. Lanza was fortunate. Did NOT mean to suggest that.

    • Katherine H says:

      I understood what you meant. She had the means to help her son and many others do not. But what help is available? As you note, support for mental health has been cut to the bone. As a result, even those who can afford such care have few options available.

  3. Average Citizen says:

    Is it BEAR arms or BARE arms, professor?

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