By Michael D. Evans
“The job facing American voters…in the days and years to come is to determine which hearts, minds and souls command those qualities best suited to unify a country rather than further divide it, to heal the wounds of a nation as opposed to aggravate its injuries, and to secure for the next generation a legacy of choices based on informed awareness rather than one of reactions based on unknowing fear.”
Taking measures to eliminate gun violence in our society needs to happen now. Putting this issue on the backburner is inexcusable. How many more of us must die a senseless death before reason surpasses the whims of the National Rifle Association (NRA)?
After each mass shooting, someone on the right surfaces to state that any discussion of gun safety and gun control is “politicizing” a tragedy. And yet the tragedy occurred only because a “political solution” has failed to materialize that might have kept guns out of the hands of the perpetrator. The need to get guns off our streets isn’t a radical notion; it is the ultimate expression of common sense.
Some years ago, Mother Jones magazine published an article comparing the regulations on a gun (the TEC-9), which at the time was unregulated, and teddy bears (yes, cuddly toy bears), which were heavily regulated. Society recognizes that consumer products need to be safe except for one category— guns.
At the time, Mother Jones proposed the following solutions: 1) regulate guns like other consumer products, 2) ban all handguns and assault rifles, and 3) tax ammunition heavily. Think of all the lives that would have been saved had these measures been implemented a quarter century ago.
The real facts speak for themselves: In 2013, the United States experienced 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries and 33,636 deaths from firearms, including 11,208 homicides, 21,175 suicides and 505 accidental firearm discharges (Wikipedia).
Handguns have but one purpose—to maim or kill people. Assault rifles and any variation of semiautomatic and automatic weapons have but one purpose— to kill people. If I planned a murder, I would be arrested. Yet you can sell me the weapon that I would use for that crime and, well, that’s just good for the bottom line. That is demented.
Young people were interviewed at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as to how they would address gun violence in America. Both the men and women interviewed supported guns in our society and heartily backed the Second Amendment. One young man said that it’s “more of a culture issue than a gun issue.” What does that even mean? That’s it’s culturally OK to have gun violence? Another suggested that school shootings could be addressed with armed guards in schools or by allowing teachers to have concealed carry permits.
Arming teachers is an idea completely devoid of reason. The classroom is dangerous enough in today’s volatile environment. And it’s already difficult to get qualified persons who want to teach. Instead, we need to make our schools Sanity Zones with no guns, no weapons of any kind, no NRA and no ROTC. Schools are for educating our children, not for creating greater opportunities for fear and mayhem.
We are talking about real people, real lives. We should never forget that.
Let us embrace efforts such as March for Our Lives. But we must also understand that marching and tweeting is insufficient. Legislators of every political stripe need to find the backbone to step forward and save American lives by preventing further gun violence.
“Every day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. We are turning this beautiful country into a War Zone. Together, let’s bring back America, the green land of Peace. The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience.”
—Yoko Ono Lennon