Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts on the Newtown, Connectictut Shooting


Bob Costas spoke eloquently on the subject of gun control after the death of Jovan Belcher.  I suspect there will be many more poignant and passionate calls for gun sanity in light of yesterday’s (12/14/2012) assault on a Connecticut elementary school.  That attack left twenty-six dead.  Twenty of the victims were young five and six year old children.  Let me say, bluntly, that I have never owned a gun, abhor guns and would support any law that made acquiring a firearm as difficult as acquiring a driver’s license.  Gun Control, the Second Amendment and the need to own cannon to hunt squirrels is not the most important question facing our nation today but, in light of the crimes inflicted on the children of Newtown, CT, it is a discussion we should have.

Too often, we find ourselves in front of the television captivated by Breaking News headlines from various States and neighborhoods around the country.  Sometimes the incidents (what a benign word) end before the carnage.  A gunman is captured or killed before a movie theater or a store or a school is decimated.  More frequently, however, the Breaking News banner is followed by reports of mass murder.  (Mass Murder is a less benign but still patently inadequate phrase.)  People occasionally die en masse because someone somewhere got angry and decided to satisfy that anger by slaughtering innocents.  I would like to know when we stopped putting a flaming bag of shit on someone’s front porch (I’m not feeling particularly eloquent right now)  and started shooting friends and neighbors – and the children of friends and neighbors – to right some perceived wrong.

On the subject of gun control, I tend to look at the Second Amendment differently.  That Amendment says:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

To me, that single sentence is not a blanket promise guaranteeing a right to bear arms under all circumstances without rational limitations.   A reader of our Constitution might conclude that that particular sentence no longer reflects life in a 21st century America.  Americans, for instance, no longer grab their rifle from above the mantle and run out the door to answer a call to arms.  We have a large, standing, well-armed, well-regulated military for that. 

I am not saying, outlaw guns.  Hunters should be allowed to hunt.  Recreational shooters should be allowed to blow clay pigeons and paper targets to smithereens.  Collectors should be able to enjoy the craftsmanship and artistry of a well-made weapon.  There is a middle ground.  As already stated, it should be as difficult to acquire a gun as it is a driver’s license.  What is wrong with requiring training and licensing before owning a deadly weapon?  What is wrong with age limitations and vision checks (and, yes, background checks)? The common, glib response to any call for gun regulation is guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  More accurately, guns don’t kill people, people carrying guns kill people.  Until guns develop sentience, we won’t have to worry about firearms; the person carrying the gun, however, is a different story.  The person behind the gun is sometimes a very real problem.  That is a problem that should be addressed.  Anything less is the clinical definition of insanity…

…you know, doing the same thing over and over again…

…expecting a different result.

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