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July 25, 2014

Horror in CT

schoolshooting

“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But the refrain that “this is not the appropriate time to discuss this issue” is no longer valid.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.”

griefIf 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.

Comments

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Comments
15 Responses to “Horror in CT”
  1. Lacy Lady says:

    “speaking live on Fox News, Mike Huckabee said that this shooting happened because “we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.” He added, “Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end, and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done.”

    I just signed a petition to fire Mike Huckabee from the Fox News station.

    • clif says:

      My reply would be Mr Huckabee, you must believe in a very weak and feeble god, if he thinks the actions of non believers can force his god to do anything.

  2. Zyxomma says:

    Leah Burton put up an excellent post on her blog. It’s at the top of the page.

    http://godsownparty.com/blog/

    Mass murder of six year olds in their first grade class. I’m speechless. Tikkun Olam, Shalom. Heal the earth. Peace.

  3. tigerwine says:

    Oh. Damn. I was away most of the day, locked up in a room with the Dept. of Revenue in Atlanta, and didn’t hear the news until I flicked “Hardball” on at 5 PM. Funny, I had to show my ID and go through a scanner to attend the meeting I was scheduled to be at. There were 3 armed personnel to greet me. (After hearing what the DOR had to say, I could see why they needed security!)

    My niece in VA called, very upset. She is a retired teacher and devoted grandmother, and just couldn’t imagine being in either position and having that horrendous thing happening to her. Her husband, upon hearing the news, burst into tears. He’s a retired newspaper editor, and has seen and covered lots of bad stuff, but this one took the cake with him.

    As always, after something like this happens, I try to imagine just what it is Second Amendment protectionists need pointed out to them. Like Mr. Dewar, I’m not against guns, per se. I live in a rural area where kids skip school when deer season opens. It’s a rite of passage here, and wonderful tales of male bonding are told and retold every year. It seems that the Second Amendment takes precedence over all, especially “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.Can’t for the life of me see why combat weapons should even be allowed to be sold to anyone but law enforcement and the military. Period. How in the world did an organization like the NRA get so powerful. Maybe, with the tide changing, now is the time that common sense will see the light of day. Maybe now Jim Brady will have his day.

  4. ugavic says:

    Hopefully on the table will also be the discussion of mental health. I am not familiar enough with the new health laws to know if it will be easier to obtain but I am hoping it will be.

    There is too little knowledge in the general public about mental illness and from all I can see it is too darn hard to obtain good care.

    To me this needs to be on the table too as it is part of the issue, separate but still up for discussion.

  5. Moose Pucky says:

    Time to reduce the ready availability of certain types of guns and ammo. Assault rifles and magazine clips do more harm than good. Time to improve health care of all kinds. Time to reduce income inequality. Time to provide better care for returning vets. Time to address so many important issues. For the children.

    • thatcrowwoman says:

      Time indeed, Moose Pucky.

      For all the little children of the world.
      For those who are gone,
      for those who remain,
      and for those yet to come.

      from Ecclesiastes by way of the Byrds~~
      Turn. Turn. Turn
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

      Tikkun Olam.
      L’Shalom,
      thatcrowwoman

    • Scott McPain says:

      This week in China, which has some of the highest firearm restrictions out of any country, lost 22 children out side of a school, all at the hands of a single man, with a KNIFE! Firearms are tools just like knives or even ball bats. Banning assault rifles or high cap magazines because you think that tools were to blame is the same as saying we should ban Tequila because it caused an ugly girl to become pregnant. The only thing to blame here is the MEDIA! They were warned by the top experts, not to over do it on reporting and look what they did with the mall shooting. Only 2 people dead. I could do better than that with a flint lock black powder muzzle loader. Had an administrator in that school been armed, the outcome may have been different.

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    Thank you for this Mr Dewar
    I can’t think of anything useful to add to this right now except maybe
    that we refuse to address mental health as well.

  7. mike from iowa says:

    I will not accept the argument that the mass slaughter of innocent schoolchildren by deranged animals with guns is the price we must pay for allowing private ownership of weapons. You know it is coming.

  8. Beaglemom says:

    I plan to write to my senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, and to my representative, Dave Camp, this weekend and ask them what they are prepared to do to 1) curtail weapons sales in this country and 2) provide real and urgently needed mental health care for thousands of young people who have mental illness and have no way to be treated adequately. Instead of arguing over fictional fiscal cliffs or debt ceilings, members of Congress need to pass gun control laws with some teeth in them and need to make a national priority of addressing mental health issues.

    We, as a nation, can no longer sit back and let nothing be done. Please contact your members of Congress, whatever their political or philosophical stripe they may be, and tell them that they must act and act now. This afternoon I read a comment that I agree with heartily that the 2nd Amendment needs to be amended to limit its applicability to the National Guard. After all, that is what the founding fathers had in mind, not personal arsenals in every household.

    • Lacy Lady says:

      If I heard correctly–the guns that were used, were registered in the mother’s name. My question is–Why did this mother own all these guns, when she had a son who was mentally unstable . Why were these guns and amno, not locked up. Sooooo many unanswered questions.
      What this man used in these shooting was not just a simple pistol with 6 bullets. The type of gun that a woman might carry in her purse.

      • Irishgirl says:

        I wondered about that too.

      • Just Saying says:

        well reports are saying she was into guns and took her kids out target practicing…and that she was a RIGID religious nut…so the kid just lost it…I can’t blame him for being upset, but killing kids is not the way to solve the anger issues…there is boxing, wresting, labor work, and by the end of the day, the exhaustion will take over and the anger subsides…so I blame the mother and her damn brainwashing crap to make the kid feel as if he didn’t do anything with his life then he is a loser…I have seen it a thousand times with parents and kids ask me WHY? I say they only know where they have been and the world is a big place, get other opinions…I am thinking if this kid was sheltered and didn’t venture out – even on the internet – to see how other kids felt about Ma’s mentality…he might have never picked up a gun…and just had a good laugh…oh wow I am not alone in this…and start a blog or something so other kids can attest to the pain in the butt religious right parents…most I know with folks like that have mellowed considerably since others joke about them, bringing smiles and laughs to other wise frustrated and confused children…
        I tell the kids God is Vanilla Ice Cream and religions are nothing but flavors of it…they laugh…good! Better than BELIEVING what is told to you and then reacting like this young man did…preventable!!

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