In the wake of one of the largest mass murders in United States history, the search for meaningful conversation about the nation’s gun culture continues. Conspicuous by their absence from the debate is the National Rifle Association: The group hasn’t posted a thing on Twitter and took their Facebook page down shortly after the shootings in Connecticut. To be certain, I even went as far as to search for their thoughts on their Myspace, Friendster, and Google+ accounts, but to no avail. . Does anybody think that it’s good public relations for the largest pro-gun organization in America to remain silent and not offer even the most basic of condolences on the gun-related deaths of 27 people?
On the legislative side of the discussion, Senator Dianne Feinstein says that a revamped version of her popular 1994 bill banning assault weapons would be introduced on the first day that Congress reconvenes. Her bill would ban more than 100 specific firearms, including certain semi-automatic rifles, handguns, and shotguns. It would also ban clips and drums of ammunition capable of carrying more than 10 rounds. The bill does call for the exemption of over 900 models of guns and would not affect current gun owners, but would instead would prohibit the sale, transfer, or importation of these weapons. According to Sen. Feinstein’s website:
“Who needs these military-style assault weapons? Who needs an ammunition feeding device capable of holding 100 rounds?These weapons are not for hunting deer — they’re for hunting people.”
Senator Feinstein has received support from many members of Congress, including several who have traditionally held very strong pro-gun positions.
For context – Here is a picture of the gun used by the man who killed his mother, six teachers, and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary:
Detractors of gun legislation often point to legal activities that cause death but are still widely practiced. One of the examples presented on a brilliant Facebook satire page is that car accidents kill over 30,000 people every year in America. Should we ban cars because people die?
It’s a horrid (but popular) argument that is often parroted by conservatives who believe that ANY restriction on gun ownership represents a threat to their freedom and slaps the Second Amendment in the face. If they wanted to make a more appropriate case, those who opposed gun legislation would argue that driving shouldn’t have any laws attached to it: Seat belts and airbags should be done away with. The speed limit infringes on our right to get to work on time. Roads shouldn’t have guard rails because you know… freedom.
People still die in car crashes, but laws to improve driver safety have pushed fatalities to their lowest number in over 60 years. Old cars are being replaced by newer models with more safety features, including air bags and antilock brakes. Highways are built or refurbished with more attention to safety, with features like rumble strips and cable median barriers to separate cars from oncoming traffic. Seat belt use is believed to be up, and stricter car seat laws have made the days when children bounced around in the back of station wagons a distant memory.
Let me ask the responsible gun owners out there a very direct and simple question (and thank you for the discussion in the comments section) – What do you have against reasonable gun laws? How does improving the gun control laws to mandate that all gun purchases (including those at gun shows, over the internet, and through private vendors) require a background check? If you aren’t insane, what do you have against comprehensive mental health screening that helps ensure that crazy people have restricted access to firearms? Can you hit a deer with 10 bullets? Do you need more before you have to reload? (If so, Storm Troopers think that you have shitty aim.)
You never really hear about a concerned, armed civilian stepping into the middle of a mass shooting and ending the slaughter. It is a pro-gun talking point that simply has no factual basis, and again it prevents a serious conversation that could actually help tragic events like this from occurring again. You know what would have cut down on the number of fatalities in Aurora when a shooter opened fire in a dark movie theater? A couple guys shooting back at them in a dark movie theater! When a shoe-bomber tried to blow up an airplane, is the correct response to make ALL airline passengers wear explosive shoes to improve safety? Obviously that’s an extreme argument, but quite frankly it’s no more ludicrous than putting guns in classrooms. Picture your 8th grade algebra teacher. Now, picture them as a cool, calm, and collected character packing heat and being a hero. Try again.
It’s not even about the guns as much as it is about the culture. Conservative blowhard Mike Huckabee claimed that the reason that these children were slaughtered was a lack of God in schools. Let me make one thing abundantly clear in the context of this conversation: The rest of the world has access to the same God, the same video games, the same movies, the same music. The rest of the world has the same percentage of mental illness per capita, and the rest of the world has the same lack of prayer in schools, and they don’t seem to have 10,000 people killed by guns in their respective countries annually.
So now that we’ve taken all of those excuses off of the table, can we have a real conversation about WHY this keeps happening, and how we can do better in the future than we are doing right now? One thing is clear: The status quo is no longer acceptable.