16 December 2013

One year later...

In the blur of days since my father’s Dec. 11 death (I’m in the denial stage right now), I missed the Dec. 14 anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

After that horrible day that took the lives of 26 children and teachers, it seemed like we were finally poised to pass significant gun reform in this country, but a year later, absolutely nothing has been done. 

In fact, if anything, we took a big step backward in April when the U.S. Senate voted to reject expanded gun background checks. Passage of the bill would have meant that people buying guns at gun shows and online would go through the same background checks that someone who buys from an authorized dealer goes through. It’s a huge loophole that remains wide open. 

I believe we can accomplish so much to make the world a better, safer, more equitable place and much of this year has been highlighting organizations that are committed to doing so. However, I have to admit that my faith falls short when it comes to gun control. The NRA has done such a good job of convincing people that any kind of restriction means we will be taking away every one of your guns that their constant drum beat drowns out all sensible debate on the topic. 

Shootings in schools and other public places are so commonplace now that unless it is a mass shooting like Sandy Hook or Aurora, Colorado, we seem to not even flinch any more. When it is on a massive scale, we talk about how maybe this will be the one that gets people’s attention and bring about reform and then, as we see here, we go right back to worshipping our guns and misguidedly clinging to our 2nd Amendment rights. 

According to Demand Action to End Gun Violence, an bi-partisan coalition of 1,000 mayors from around the U.S., 33 people die from gunshot wounds every day. 

Like many of us, the mayors who are members of Demand Action don’t want to disarm everyone, but I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone can disagree that keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals is a good idea. Rights come with limits. Why does preserving the right of someone who is certifiably mentally ill to have a gun seen as more viable than keeping a 6-year old first grader safe? 

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