Columbine. Blacksburg. Newtown. Parkland.
The list, incomplete as it is, likely will go on.
We shouldn’t accept that.
How have we gotten here? How do otherwise well-meaning people get so riled up that they feel compelled to defend their rights, even as people just like them are burying their children?
I don’t question their belief. But their sense of appropriate commentary at this time seems, to be polite, almost entirely lacking.
And while I won’t question that they deeply hold their beliefs, I feel compelled to address some of them, based solely on the comments I have read across the web and social media.
Stated simply, the facts do not support those beliefs.
Some of my friends who defend gun ownership note that responsible gun owners comply with existing regulations. The say, repeatedly, that criminals, or illegal aliens, or the mentally ill, or any member of any group that can be identified as different from their responsible cohort, will get guns anyway, as if this removes any need to place any restrictions on gun sales.
My friends, you can’t shoot someone dead if you can’t get your hands on a gun.
Some of my friends who defend gun ownership cite the Second Amendment and maintain they are taking a principled stand in favor of strict construction of the Constitution. They say the Second Amendment flatly states that their right to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed.
This is so. Yet it is not absolutely so. A strict reading is not inconsistent with regulation. And, strictly speaking, there is no mention at all of ammunition, which could conceivably be regulated with impunity.
My friends, the right to swing my fist (or have unfettered access to guns) ends where the other man’s nose (or threat to his life) begins.
Some of my friends who defend gun ownership maintain it is a personal safety issue, that they are protecting themselves and their families from violent crime. That they believe this to be true is inarguable. Yet it hardly is. Violent crime is more likely to be encountered by poor, urban African-American males and rural whites than among solid middle class citizens of the suburbs.
My friends, the world is scary enough without inventing fears, divorced from reality, that require guns for protection.
My beliefs are far more libertarian than those held by most people so I do not easily argue the need to regulate guns. For decades now we have experimented with expanding gun ownership, asserting that more guns will bring more security, and removing sensible restrictions and limits on who may buy what type of weapon.
My friends, we owe it to ourselves, our children and the children of our friends and neighbors, to admit that experiment has failed and try something different.
Otherwise, the list will continue to grow.