We All Lost at Newtown
Monday, January 21, 2013
In the month since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, many calls have been made for more gun control, with at least as many voices opposing additional gun control (though the latter group without the benefit of mainstream media amplification afforded the former).
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a gun owner and advocate for our Constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms, and have been since before receiving my first firearms identification (“FID”) card at the age of 18 and purchasing my first firearm. Almost 16,000 days owning guns, and neither my guns nor I have killed or harmed anyone. The same could be said of the vast majority of American gun owners.
Those who propose greater gun control speak as though they are the only ones who empathize with the tragic loss of that mid-December morning; that those opposing gun control are not equally saddened.
Those who oppose greater gun control have done little, if anything, to acknowledge our sense of shock, anger, dismay, grief and loss are every bit as strong as and in common with our “opponents.”
Hype and Hysteria
The truth has, once again, fallen victim to hype and hysteria. The truth is that on December 14, 2012, we all lost. 26 innocent people were brutally murdered by a man who then took his own life. We will never know the reasons, but we shall forever remember—we shall all remember.
My message to those who argue for more gun control is this: You do not have a monopoly on grief; you may not claim the moral high ground on this basis. We all hurt.
My message to those who argue against more gun control is quite simply: You may not bypass others’ anger and sense of loss, and jump immediately into debate. We all lost.
Though emotion has no place in public policy, it exists; we must acknowledge it, and then hope that cooler heads shall prevail. Fact and reason must guide public policy, not emotion.
The siren call to “do something” is loud and clear. For many, doing “something” means more gun control legislation, with no acknowledgement of the stripping of rights of those who have done nothing wrong. Doing “nothing” is allowed to mean that you are not bothered by the tragedy and are content to let it happen again.
Of course, no one wants such things to ever happen in the first place, let alone ever again. About this, there is no disagreement from anyone, so the question at hand becomes not whether something should be done, but what should be done.
Those who oppose the private ownership and possession of firearms altogether cannot put forth a method by which firearms could be “un-invented.” Even if laws could be passed banning private ownership of firearms, only those complying with the law would give up their firearms.
Few promoting gun control have the courage to define what they truly mean, or the integrity to honestly look at and acknowledge historical outcomes of gun control. That is to say, throughout history when a government has implemented gun control and registration, only two different outcomes have occurred: One is that the government became oppressive, tyrannical and murderous; the other is that murder rates stayed the same or went higher, but other weapons were used instead of firearms.
If disarmed - only government and lawless
Once voluntary disarmament of law-abiding citizens has occurred, only two groups of people would have firearms: The government, and those who do not care about the law.
Never in all the history of mankind has a homicidal maniac chosen to not kill because doing so was illegal. Taking firearms out of the hands of everyday citizens will at best accomplish nothing and at worst make people into sitting ducks. This idea is a non-starter.
We also know that over a million times each year in the United States, firearms are used to prevent law-breakers from committing crimes. Without firearms, many of those crimes would not be prevented.
The other voice advocating gun control cites the 30-round magazine allegedly used by Adam Lanza, saying that there is no justifiable need for these “high capacity” magazines and “assault weapons.”
What capacity magazines would be acceptable? Are there an acceptable number of victims greater than zero? Both sides of the gun rights argument answering honestly would be in total agreement: No.
Does this mean that instead of doing something, we are left with doing nothing? Of course not.
It means that we can choose between doing things that are easy and ineffectual, and things that are difficult but effective.
What is the easy thing to do? Pass laws, which attempt to prevent law-abiding citizens from doing things they do not and would not do regardless of the new law. Actions such as these do nothing to deter criminals and the insane, but they do appear to be “something” politicians can take credit for doing.
In addition to being ineffectual, these new laws are immoral because they penalize those who have done nothing wrong by stripping them of their natural rights based on other people’s actions. It is the moral equivalent of restricting alcohol and motor vehicle ownership because someone guilty of drunk driving crashes their car and kills someone, though alcohol is responsible for more deaths each year than firearms.
What is the difficult thing to do? Demand that when government takes temporary custody of our children while they are in school for the day, they must be held responsible for protecting them from harm exactly as they might be at home. Trained adults with firearms must be present and prepared.
This is difficult because some children come from homes that do not have firearms in them, often because the parents do not wish to own firearms. Those who choose not to own firearms refuse to acknowledge that they are in communities where some households do have firearms, and since criminals cannot know for certain which homes do or do not, this provides greater safety for all.
Most schools in America are by law firearms-free zones. This fact is well known by most people, including those with bad intentions. For those such as Adam Lanza who intend to inflict as much harm as possible, schools represent easy targets.
People who claim firearms are unnecessary and do not belong in private hands should be willing to publicly show that their home is firearm-free. That is the only way they can disassociate themselves from the protection afforded by others in their community possessing firearms. "A recent hidden camera investigation of those calling for gun control and opposing the ownership of guns by private citizens has, in fact, shown how hypocritical anti-gun are:
In Newtown, we all lost when 26 innocent people were killed. Let us honor their memories by preventing such a tragedy from happening again by doing something that will actually make a difference, not just what sounds good or feels good.
On that, we should all be able to agree.
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- 94% of MA Elected Officials Polled Do Not Own Firearms
- Tom Finneran: Twenty Little Angels in Newtown
- “Goods for Guns” Born out of Worcester Doctor’s Tragedy