You would have to live in a cave not to hear about the events on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It’s been an awful weekend for anyone with a conscience.
I have lots of feelings about this, but I have to confess I keep coming back to the issue of gun violence and the Second Amendment. I’m one of the people who believe that the 2nd Amendment mandates only a National Guard. Alas, the Supreme Court found in the case of District of Coumbia vs. Heller that there is an individual right to private gun ownership.
I’m willing to concede the right to own guns for hunting or protecting your home and family. I don’t have any desire to hunt and I worry that a gun for my own protection could be used against me (as it was with the shooter’s mother Nancy Lanza). But this allows for a fairly narrow slice of the guns we own. If you want to hunt you will probably use a rifle or a shotgun. Rifles normally carry 5 rounds before needing to reload. Shotguns need to be reloaded after one or two shots. If you’re hunting game this makes some sense.
If you have a gun for personal protection your needs can be met with a simple revolver. If someone breaks into your home in the middle of the night it’s hard to imagine that 6 shots won’t do what needs to be done.
I’m troubled by the proliferation of assault weapons. The last few decades have shown us rifles and handguns with incredibly high firepower. Adam Lanza showed up at Sandy Hook Elementary School with three guns: a Bushmaster Assault Rifle, a Glock 9mm pistol, and a SIG Sauer 9mm pistol. According to news reports he had hundreds of bullets and could have killed every teacher and child in the school. He shot himself only when he heard the sound of sirens. There are variations but the Bushmaster clip holds 30 rounds and is easy to reload.
Is this what our founders had in mind? I don’t think so. High power guns with huge clips are not designed for hunting or protecting. They are made for mass violence and they are incredibly successful. Had the shooter needed to reload after only 5 or 6 shots someone might have been able to disarm him.
We keep having the massacres, and yet we keep having these weapons. Why? The NRA and other gun lobbies are incredibly successful in convincing a small but powerful number of us that banning these guns won’t solve anything. They are also successful in telling our lawmakers that they will defeat any candidate who opposes them. The Sunday news shows covered the massacre and had no trouble finding people like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Senator Dianne Feinstein talking about the need for sensible gun legislation. The pro gun lobby was largely silent; the exception was Texas Representative Louie Gohmer who said that if the school principal had been armed she could have stopped the massacre.
Talk radio was not silent. Rush Limbaugh said this on his show Monday: “[P]art of the [liberal] agenda that was being advanced was, of course, gun control. And there was glee, there was excitement at the opportunity that was presented here.” Sorry, I can’t bring myself to link to Rush’s page. You can find it on the transcript on his web page.
I’m pretty outraged at being told that my reaction to this massacre was glee. This is not an opportunity to talk about sensible gun control, the massacre is reason we need to have this discussion.
For those of us who favor sensible legislation about guns, it’s time to move. It’s time to write to our representatives and tell them that we will support sensible legislation, no matter how much the NRA tries to block it. We need to tell them that we will not vote for NRA backed candidates, no matter how much money they spend.
We need our legislators to know that our vote is safe.
My prayers are with the victims.