I am heartbroken, sick at my stomach, outraged, and just plain tired of turning on the news to learn of yet another mass killing from firearms.
The time has come for gun reform in the United States. Actually, we are about twenty years late for making reform, but politicians, lobbyists, gun manufacturers, and those who fear a complete government takeover if they no longer have access to their weaponry have made any conversation in the U.S. regarding gun control impossible.
Believe me, I have heard and read all the arguments about why we don’t need gun control. I know guns don’t kill people, people do. And, I know the Second Amendment states that the right to bear Arms shall not be infringed. But, do we have to be quite so stubborn about this issue? Do we have to continue to allow people access to whatever weaponry they choose just to make sure we are upholding the Constitution? Do people really need to have access to assault weapons? What purpose do such weapons serve, other than to provide the shooter the opportunity to kill a lot of stuff really fast?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people owning hunting rifles, or even pistols. If that’s what helps you sleep peacefully at night, then fine. But don’t have your kid ask one of my kids over to your house. Because, yes, I know kids who have been killed when adults mistakenly left their guns unlocked. And, no, my boys are not going to go hunting because, yes, I also know kids who were killed when their overanxious hunting partners mistook their rustling in the woods for a deer’s.
But here is my question: Are you really so hung up on your “rights” that you can look at any of those parents who lost a child today and tell them that we don’t need some sort of gun reform? Those children, who were just doing what they do every day at school – the same as any of our kids do every day – they had no way to fight back. They are gone now. Forever. Are you still willing to say that assault weapons have a place in civilian society?
Earlier this week a man opened fire in a mall in Oregon. This past summer another man a - PhD candidate in neuroscience - shot up a movie theater. Another man killed seven people in a Sikh Temple. This week’s two incidents bring the total of mass shootings for 2012 in the United States to eight. Know how many gun-related deaths Japan had in 2008? 11. This is because Japan has some of the toughest gun restrictions in the world. Some argue that Japan’s strict gun laws give its government greater power over the citizens, potentially leaving them vulnerable, but there are some key components that the Japanese government enforces that, given the rise in shooting violence this year, are worth debating in the United States.
Just how much more violent is the United States than other developed countries? According to an article written for The Atlantic in August 2012, of the 23 “rich” countries of the world, the U.S. is nearly 20 times that of the other 22.
One of the problems we Americans have is a lack of willingness to acknowledge that maybe other countries might be doing something better than we are. Maybe, just maybe, someone else out there has a better way of ensuring their citizens receive adequate health care. Maybe, just maybe, someone else has a better idea of how to keep gun violence to a minimum. Just because we look to others for advice and/or guidance doesn’t make us weak. It makes us smart.
I, for one, have seen enough mass shootings in my lifetime. I have cried real tears for the victims and their families because I know these random acts can take place anywhere – against anyone. I know we can’t completely stop violence. And I know there are so many more components to these killings than just lax gun laws. (Better mental illness services, for instance.)
But, we have to start somewhere.