Last week in an unfortunate moment of clairvoyance, I wrote a column that talked about the gun culture in America. Since that writing, there was a shooting in an Oregon mall that left 3 people (including the gunman) dead and then a mass killing in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed the lives of 27 people, including 20 children all believed to be under the age of 10 years old.
It is going to be difficult to stay on task in this column, but it is important to come out of these tragedies with a dialogue about the gun culture in America. It is no longer acceptable to hide behind the Second Amendment as a shield against any type of conversation or meaningful debate on the availability of firearms in this country. Patriots will often praise the Constitution as a “living, breathing document” that our Founders intended to adapt with the nation as it grew. When did a “well-regulated” militia become “Everyone has a right to own as many weapons as they want” without any type of control? You know, our Founders didn’t write anything about cars and roads into the Bill of Rights and yet SOMEHOW, by the Grace of God, we were able to construct reasonable laws for speed limits and seat belts that have saved thousands of lives. Did anyone catch the word “REGULATED” right there in the 2nd Amendment? Look! It’s pretty straightforward:
“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.”
Sensible people don’t mind sensible limitations of their freedoms – especially when their freedoms have the power to kill twenty kids.
So let’s talk about guns sensibly. Did you know that 74% of NRA members support that all gun transactions should require a background check? Did you know that if you are on the “Terrorist Watch List” you can STILL buy a gun? Did you know that you don’t usually have to pass a background check if you buy a gun at a gun show? Did you know that if your gun is stolen, you aren’t required to report that to the police? Did you know that even if you have a history of domestic violence you can STILL acquire a concealed carry permit? Did you know that the purchase of Sudafed is better tracked and regulated than the purchase of ammunition? That is not me saying it: that is members of the NRA saying it. How about we start THERE for reasonable gun control laws? You know… Stuff that the gun folks themselves seem to think is a good idea?
(Sidenote: I tried to go to the NRA’s Facebook and Twitter to try to get some more research and opinion for this column, but it turns out that even with an arsenal of weapons, some people are still just giant pussies.)
“But if we take away legal gun ownership, people will just get them on the Black Market!” say the people who need their guns for the impending Civil War/Secession/Obama is Gonna Take My Guns/FEMA Camps/U.N. Takeover that is on the way. Isn’t it funny that the people who believe gun prohibition will lead to back alley sales don’t apply the same logic to abortion? If your first reaction, or even your second or third reaction to an entire classroom of kindergartners getting gunned down is, “Oh great, now Obama and the liberals are going to come for my guns” – That’s probably proof enough that you shouldn’t really have weapons around. Also: You are an asshole.
Do you NEED an AR-15? No, you WANT an AR-15. Do you need extended magazines? No, you WANT extended magazines. Do you NEED to own 20 guns to “protect your family”? No, you WANT 20 guns to protect your family. There is a huge difference between a RIGHT to bear arms and a WANT to bear arms, and it is LONG past time to differentiate between the two. Nobody is advocating for a ban on guns. Nobody is saying that people shouldn’t have the right to own a handgun to defend their home, or a rifle to hunt; however when did this supposed “right” to own an unchecked arsenal morph out of the 2nd Amendment? More than 3/4 of the guns used in recent mass shootings were obtained legally. What does that say about the ease that people can acquire a gun?
To the “Spoons make you fat” people let me be perfectly clear: Guns kill people. Guns have one function, and that is to kill people. If you aren’t trying to kill something when you fire a gun, you are practicing for the next time you will try to kill something. When your gun can double as a grilling utensil or you can paint your walls with it, we can have a discussion about the expanding role of guns in our society. As it stands right now, guns are a tool of death.
To the people who don’t want to talk about gun legislation because these murders should not be politicized: You are yourself guilty of politicizing this tragedy. The difference is that YOU want the status quo. YOU do not want gun laws to change, YOU don’t want to give up your assault weapons, and YOU seem to think that it is disrespectful to the victims to talk about these things in the wake of their deaths. If somebody kills me, I want you ALL to discuss ways that my death could have potentially been avoided. I thank you in advance.
To those who think that we should arm the innocents, or that if the teacher had a gun this tragedy could have been avoided I’d like to point out that this teacher DID own guns…
…The semi-automatic handguns used in the mass shooting belonged to the shooter’s mother, kindergarten teacher Nancy Lanza.
Ezra Klein wrote a great piece giving twelve facts about mass shootings in the United States and for those with short attention spans, (And I know this is a long read – Thank you for hanging in there) let me quote one insightful paragraph:
“If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.”
Gun control should be no different. People will claim that this is not the right time to make this tragedy into a political battle. Some will claim that it is too soon after these children were murdered to address gun laws in this country, but those people would be wrong. It is not too soon to have a meaningful conversation about guns in America…
…It’s too late.
EDIT 12/16 – This is the gun reportedly used by Adam Lanza in the CT shooting. It is 100% legal. Some children were reportedly shot as many as 10 times at close range.
–Sean Kemmerer is a freelance writer, administrator of Politics Without The Crazy Pills, and is overweight because of the rampant availability of spoons in American society .