Dan Chmielewski asked on Friday “When are we going to have a meaningful conversation about Gun Control?” His question was asked in the midst of the news of the shootings hitting our TV’s, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages. Now that smoke of gunfire has cleared the answer to Dan’s question seems clear.
There will never be a good time to talk about gun control.
It was clear even four days earlier when Jon Stewart addressed the question.
On Saturday, we had a gunman fire 50-rounds in the air in the parking lot of the Fashion Island Macy’s store.So if there’s never going to be a good time then we may as well start now.
Aside from the usual complaints that “liberals” are using tragedy to promote gun control, we have 2nd Amendment activists clamoring that if only the principal, or teachers, had a gun the tragedy could have been ended sooner than the self-inflicted wound to the gunman’s head provided.
“While you can complain about gun control, remember that Connecticut has some of the most stringent gun laws on the books. That is why you did not see a legion of gun toting CCW teachers defending their kids. Since so-called gun control is reactive and not proactive, perhaps we are looking at this from the wrong angle.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) made the case Sunday that the answer to preventing massacres in the U.S. is for more Americans to carry guns.
“There has been great investigation and study into this,” Gohmert told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, arguing that mass killings happen where citizens tend to be unarmed. “They choose this place [because] they know no one will be armed.”
Gohmert argued that the mass slaughter would have gone differently if Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung had been armed.
“Chris, I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said.
If we have learned anything from our nations collective fascination with guns, it is that our 2nd Amendment right guarantees that people who have guns legally, sometimes use them illegally. When that happens, innocent people die. We know that high capacity magazines for automatic and semi-automatic weapons make their use on innocent people more devastating.
I grew up with my uncles going hunting for deer every year. I don’t recall them needing a high-powered automatic rifle to take down a buck. I have a half-brother and uncle who are ex-army officers. I don’t think they were ever wanted to take home a military grade weapon in care they were called to join a militia.
I am not advocating that we change our constitution to ban all guns. But I do think that we need to apply some rational controls on access to assault weapons, and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The argument that since the stringency of existing gun laws was ineffective to prevent misuse means the the answer is that everyone should carry guns is absurd. The weakness of gun and ammunition control laws does not mean they are useless. It means they need to be strengthened to improve their effectiveness.
In addition to limiting access to military-grade hardware, we must address the need for universal access to appropriate mental health services for all in our communities. While this won’t stop all instances of gun violence, it will at a minimum provide an additional layer of protection for our society.
For me the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut is personal. I have a nephew who’s an elementary school teacher. I don’t want him carrying around a handgun in his classroom and I don’t want him confronted with the same tragedy as the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The least we can do as a society is apply the same level of scrutiny to access to guns and ammunition as we do shoe bombs on airplanes.