I’m usually apolitical and believe strongly in letting people be who they are. Of live and let live. Of you do your thing, and I’ll do mine. I believe in the Constitution. That’s not enough on this.
The United States of America has become a dangerous place to live. Yesterday, my not-so-big-town paper reported the death of a grandmother who was killed in her bathroom—the victim of a drive-by shooting where the bullets were meant for someone else. I wish I could say this was an unusual article. It’s not—for my town, for the country in general.
Teenage gang members shoot each other over being “disrespected.” Spurned lovers shoot their former girlfriends. Preschoolers shoot each other because they think they are playing with a toy. Veterans facing the difficult task of picking up a “normal” life after the horrors of war use a gun as a quick way to end their pain. And then, of course, there are the mass shootings where “motive” is elusive but the death toll is very real.
A recent online article by Business Insider claimed that the likelihood of dying from gun violence is 1 in 315, and that’s not counting the suicides and accidents. In 2015, nearly 14,000 people were killed by firearms assaults in this country. That would be the whole population of the town I grew up in.
In the US, more people die from being shot by others than die riding in a van, truck, or car. And the mass shootings? “In 2015, some 333 mass shootings left 367 people dead and 1,328 injured. The statistics rose in 2016 to 383 mass shootings, 456 deaths, and 1,537 injuries. In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings that led to 437 deaths and 1,802 injuries.” (From the same article.)
We have to do better.
Gun rights advocates rally around the Second Amendment as if it were the only thing written in the Constitution. Let’s put it in perspective. The first written statement in our birth as a nation is the Declaration of Independence. It does not mention the right to own guns, but it does state that all have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The very first words in the Constitution itself state its purpose is to “… to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure the domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” The Constitution was ratified in 1788. The Second Amendment was not added until 1791 as part of a cluster of ten clarifications. Clearly, the right to own guns was not the most important thing. The right to live in peace is far more central. Losing this many Americans to gun violence every year is NOT peaceful.
What’s even more absurd is that gun control isn’t about deleting the Second Amendment itself. The push if for sensible gun control. How can any sane person argue with that idea?
Arming teachers will not solve this problem. Who do you arm to prevent a suicide that was too easy because there was a gun on the premises? Who do you arm to keep the four-year old from shooting his six year old sister when he finds a loaded gun under the seat of the car? Who do you arm to help that grandmother killed in her bathroom? Getting more guns out there isn’t the answer.
There will always be resistance to changes needed for the common good from those who are going to lose something. The farmers who benefitted from DDT… The smokers who now have to go out of the building (and stand in the rain or snow) to pollute their lungs… But the “rights” of a few should not override the legitimate needs of the many. If the NRA and all gun advocates were really intent on the good of the country–as they want us to believe they are, they would be at the table trying to solve the problem, not in trenches lobbing grenades at those who recognize the need to do it. (And to those who despicably altered photos to make “news” about the kids who’ve had the courage to stand up and start these dominoes falling, there are no words to describe how low you have stooped.)
Cowardice is cumulative and compounds. When our elected officials were cowed by the gun rights lobby and let the ban on assault weapons expire in 2004, it started a downward spiral that has expanded for 15 years. Now those same leaders are too timid to object when the President of the United States refuses to call out an international thug. They turn a blind eye to that same President’s cyberbullying and moral turpitude. They can’t find a way to get work done on any front because cowards are afraid of anyone who is not just like them. They hide in their bunkers and pretend to be strong by yelling at each other instead of having the courage to approach those who are different to work together.
We are far more than this as a nation. And we have been given the chance to start over–by kids. We don’t have to accept “it’s complicated” as an excuse for inaction. So what if it’s complicated. It still needs to be fixed. Gun ownership is just like owning anything else. You can’t do whatever you want if you own a house. You’re subject to requirements and restrictions if you own a car. Such limits are for the greater good. Common sense gun control is no different.
Every one of us needs to stand up now and insist that this be done. Yes, we can vote differently next fall, but we can also speak up now. Insist that your elected officials come around on this–not all of them are going to be up for reelection. It’s time to fix this. Way past time.
Note: The Business Insider article can be found at
And if you’re wondering, Business Insider is rated as politically “center” by AllSides.