Horror in CT
“Today is not the day to debate gun control. Yesterday was.” —Piers Morgan
There are things in this life far more important than being “right,” winning an argument, or getting one’s way on a political issue.
If you’re a parent, it’s far more important to me that you never have occasion to grieve the loss of your child than that my side, or my preferred solution, carry the day in the discussion about gun violence.
But the refrain that “this is not the appropriate time to discuss this issue” is no longer valid. From whatever perspective you come, whatever you personally believe needs to happen to address this epidemic—an epidemic it is, the discussion does need to happen, and it needs to happen now.
This is not to suggest we should lunge for knee-jerk legislative solutions, nor “take away people’s guns,” nor some other caricature habitually drawn of anyone who wants to do anything to address the problem. Responsible gun owners need to be part of the discussion, and their concerns, input and expertise need to be part of the solution.
But the discussion does need to happen. Besides, it’s not like we have a lot of “down time” to grieve between mass shootings these days.
In a nation as vast and diverse as ours, there are cultural differences on this as on many other issues. I can honestly say to my progressive friends that I feel much safer around my well-armed friends in Alaska than I do in San Francisco on Halloween—or in Oakland on any day—despite stricter gun laws in the latter. Many of the folks I know here are some of the kindest, most gentle and most educated people you could hope to meet, and don’t neatly fit the progressive stereotype of some redneck “gun nut.” Such caricatures are inaccurate and far too simplistic.
Conversely, I would ask Second Amendment enthusiasts in rural areas like Montana and Alaska to consider that ours is the most heavily armed civilian population of any modern nation on earth. If more guns made us safer, we’d be the safest nation on earth and Sweden would be facing regular mass shootings instead of us. So simply saying more guns are the answer (ie, “the teacher should have been packin’!”) is also too simplistic.
At a time when we’re desperate for quick fixes, we must confront the fact that there aren’t any.
I personally have no problem with guns, I don’t find them inherently evil, and was a pretty good shot with my M-16 when I served in the Army. I think law abiding Americans should be able to own guns if they choose. But by way of doing my part to begin the discussion, I would like to take on a couple of arguments that are quite frankly bogus and don’t stand up to basic reason.
“Criminals don’t obey the law, anyway.”
Congratulations, you just made the argument for not outlawing anything. There are sexual predators who are not dissuaded by what the law is, either, but thankfully there aren’t many among us who suggest child pornography should be legal. The fact that there are criminals who will break laws is not a reason to not have those laws in the first place.
“They’ll just use something else to kill you.”
If I’m in a mall and have my choice between A) outrunning a perp brandishing Wüsthof cutlery, or B) being hosed down with a hail of bullets from an assault rifle, I know with which scenario I’ll take my chances. It’s instructive to note that more restrictive gun laws in other Western industrialized nations have not resulted in the subsequent, theoretical rash of killings by butter knife, instead.
As an attorney friend of mine put it today, “the fact that you can kill someone with a lamp or a chair is a ridiculous and disingenuous reason against controlling the most efficiently dangerous machine that I can carry in my purse.”
If the burden of passage for any legislation is that it has to by itself magically cure a problem in its entirety, we’ll have no laws at all. Mandating people to drive on the right side of the road hasn’t eliminated traffic fatalities, either, but it’s reasonable to think it may have put a dent into their number.
And if some initiative—of whatever political flavor—would have allowed even one more of today’s slain children to come home to her parents safe and sound, wouldn’t that be worth doing?
There are no absolute rights, including the Second Amendment, enumerated in the Constitution. You acknowledge as much whenever you board a flight that doesn’t permit you to pack heat on it.
Let’s begin by respecting each other instead of arguing with the cartoon versions of each other. Not every gun owner is a “nut,” and not everyone who thinks we can do something to keep efficient killing machines out of the hands of the criminally insane therefore wants government jackboots to kick down your door and seize the guns you use to stock your freezer.
As my friend Jonnel put it in one of today’s rare lucid moments, “this isn’t only about guns or gun control; all of those other issues need to be on the table when talking about the health of our society. But guns and gun control is what people refuse to address. Those who don’t want to address it accuse the other side of politicizing tragedy, which is exactly what they are doing when they do nothing about the stark reality of gun violence in our nation.”
I don’t pretend to know what the solutions are. But I know we need to find out.