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On America and Its Guns

Newtown school shooting

Killeen, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and now Newtown, Connecticut.

I readily acknowledge that the problems associated with gun violence in this country go deeper than simply insufficient or poorly enforced laws and regulations. There are aspects of mental illness, broader societal problems, poverty, and others to consider as well. But the bottom line is that largely because of all those underlying issues, this country as a whole is clearly not capable of handling or owning guns in a responsible manner.

I also acknowledge that there are many, many responsible gun owners who are 100% law abiding and would never even dream of harming anyone with their weapons. I know some of them personally, and I do feel bad that they are lumped in with those who would cause suffering to others.

I do not and have never understood the obsession of so many in this country with guns, but my position is simply this — it is entirely too easy for people to gain access to firearms in this country. Until we as a society can do a better job of addressing the underlying problems that contribute to the culture of gun worship and gun violence in this country, I have no objection to completely restricting their access to anyone who cannot demonstrate a compelling reason to own one. And I’m sorry, but raising the 2nd Amendment does nothing to sway me. That particular passage has been used as a shield and security blanket for far too long.

I am not naive enough to believe that even if guns were made 100% illegal here that gun deaths in America would cease. Evil people will always find ways to express their evil. But the fact that for many, obtaining a firearm in this country is as easy as acquiring a fishing license is just wrong.

At a certain point we as supposedly civilized human beings need to stand up and declare that the right of people to own guns is superseded by the right of innocents to not be destroyed by those guns in the course of their daily lives. Until, at the very least, our society undergoes the necessary transformation in order to both place a greater value on human life and to provide real help to those who would turn their weapons on themselves and on others.

Now is not only not the wrong time to talk about this, it’s the only time. We allow ourselves and our leaders to sweep this issue under the rug again at our own peril, and at our children’s peril.