When the Worst Thing is to Do Nothing — A Reaction to the Tragedy in Connecticut
WEIGHING THE OPTIONS: TO DO SOMETHING VERSUS NOTHING
The horror of the Connecticut school shooting impacts us on so many emotional levels.
Just about everyone I’ve spoken to, or correspnded with, has endured a gambit of reactions over the past 24 hours since the tragedy — from shock, to anger, to sorrow, to (again) outrage, and ultimately (for some) to a renewed sense of determination.
Today’s column is a difficult one to write. It’s probably the most complicated issue I’ve addressed, to date. I admit experiencing a sort of “writer’s block” to this terrible tragedy, something that doesn’t strike me often. The bottom line is — what is there to say? What can be said?
But as the hours pass, I’ve come to realize that to say nothing is grossly irresponsible. To do nothing, even more so.
Hence, I shall address the Connecticut tragedy in multiple parts. First, there’s a purely emotional reaction to these unfathomable events. As one might expect, these feelings are accompanied by a demand for action. I’ve also included what I believe to be a few partial solutions which seek to reduce the frequency and severity of these horrors.
Once again, this is a terribly difficult problem to face. But we must look to these victims and honor their memory with something better than what we have now. And then, we must look inside ourselves. We must do it. We must do it now. Righteousness demands nothing less.
A WEEK FROM NOW, A MONTH FROM NOW, A YEAR FROM NOW
How will you feel one week from now?
Think about it, and then answer honestly. Will you still care? Will you remain interested? Or, will you move on to other things?
Today, you’re angry. So am I. So is everyone. We’re outraged by the madness. Sickened by the senseless violence.
Some have suggested now is not the time to discuss or debate the conditions that brought about an unspeakable tragedy. Instead, they insist now is a time for mourning. Let’s not make this into a political debate, they say.
But what will mourning do? Sure, we will all grieve. Those who were closest to the victims will grieve far more than most. As they should. But what about the rest of us who were spared the horrors of knowing someone at that random place and time? Yes, we should mourn, along with the families. But what is the beneft of mourning if it’s not accompanied by conviction? How shall we prevent yet another terrible tragedy like this one, and another, and another, unless we do something. Not next week. Not next month. Not next year.
If the latest manifestation of gun violence doesn’t motivate each us to fight in our own way — however big, however small — to make some serious changes in our society, then what hope is there? Will things get better next week? Next month? Next year?
They will not. Given the trajectory of increasing violence in recent decades, it will probably get worse. Perhaps much worse.
And that’s why we must rise. We must stand. We must speak out We must fight. We must act.
Not next week.
Over the next week or so, 27 innocent lifeless bodies will be lowered into the ground. At some point soon, the snows will fall. Those corpses, angels who once smiled among us, will be covered by a frozen blanket of white. They shall remain entombed forever in this earth, alive only in memory and remembered for what they might have grown up to become.
Which of the dead might have made a some discovery in science? Which of them may have grown up to become a builder, someone who creates hundreds of jobs? Which of the innocents might have provided comforts to those in need?
It is not a noble quest to search for reasons why all of this all happened. Because, fact is, it can’t be explained. There is simply no explanation. In place of that void of confusion then, we must act with a purpose. There must be a collective expression of outrage. A universal repudiation of guns and of violence. We must do it, and it must happen now.
Not next week.
HOW TO REDUCE THE SEVERITY OF GUN VIOLENCE: STRICTER LAWS
Is gun control constitutional?
When the nation’s forefathers penned the Second Amendment, which is the “right to keep and bear arms,” the most powerful gun on earth was a flintlock musket.
It weighed ten pounds.
Reloading the flinlock musket for just a single shot took an average of three minutes. Even the misfortune of being pierced by a steel ball blasted from the gun wasn’t necessarily deadly.
One can only speculate that if a Bushmaster-223 assalt weapon like the one senselessly used in Connecticut had been the most common weapon of the day, would those same wise men who wrote the Constitution have insisted upon a provision granting common citizens the right to own such firearms?
One can only speculate.
But as speculation goes, if the daily headlines of the year 1791 had included a school shooting in Philadelphia, followed by a bloody massacre along a busy street in New York, followed by the needless murder of a dozen people in a tavern in Boston, I’ll go out on a limb here and theorize there would have been no such language.
Fact is, like outmoded passages which dealt with slavery, our fathers made what are, in retrospect, some egregious errors. This weren’t just minor mistakes in judgement. These miscalculations of law and language cost our nation thousands (perhaps millions) of lives.
Our forefathers weren’t infallible. They got some things wrong. Batshit wrong. And, we bear no obligation to live (or die) because of their errors. Accordingly, the Second Amendment needs to either be amended, or at least reinterpreted.
Constitutional language does not explicitly define what “arms” means. Interpretation has fallen upon courts and legislatures in the 221 years that have passed since the Bill of Rights was signed to make these determinations.
But apparently, there’s pretty much universal agreement on some things.
For instance, the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t entitle citizens to possess the most deadly military hardware, such as machine guns. Or bazookas. Or guided missles. Our society draws lines, as it should.
Why then are we not drawing lines much closer to reality? Just one example — why aren’t courts and legislatures banning assault weapons outright? Why do we allow for the manufacture of any strength of bullet beyond a .22 caliber? Except for law enforcement and military use.
Yes, the Constitution protects your right to own a gun. It does not allow you to stockpile Gamma M1 Bazooka shells.
Would reducing the potential destructive force of most weapons alone solve the problem of gun violence? Absolutely not. But such a change would certainly make things much tougher for some wacko to discharge multiple rounds of deadly ammunition fired from a gun that’s now easily available for purchase in half the states in America.
So, the first course of action is to demand stricter (but Constitutional) gun laws designed to remove high-powered weapons from society. Naturally, law enforcement and the military should have access to the best weaponry available.
HOW TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF GUNS: A GOVERNMENT BUYBACK PROGRAM
One of the most compelling arguments against gun control is that such measures would only serve to decrease the number of guns owned by law-abiding citizens.
If that’s that case, so what?
Most gun violence in America doesn’t make headlines. The reason why not is – sad to say – because accidental shootings and fits of rage are so common. Kids sneaking into gun cabinets. Hunting accidents. Teens playing around. Domestic disputes that end in murder. Guns kill people. And the reason for this is – there are so many of them around and easily accessible.
Reducing the number of guns in America would have an immediate noticable impact on the reduction of violence. There’s plenty of evidence for this.
Consider the case of Australia, a nation with a similar history and heritage to our own. Once a nation of outlaws, the early pioneers of Australia were much like the frontiersmen of the early West. Everyone carried a gun.
But in the mid-1990s, fed up with increasing gun violence, there was a national moveent to start restricting access to weapons. National policy was accompanied by a government buyback program. The reduction in violence since changes were made then has been staggering.
SEE LINK: “DID GUN CONTROL WORK IN AUSTRALIA?” SEE REPORT HERE
If the United States were to aopt such a program, it would certainly be expensive. And, these are admittedly tough times with budget shortages. But reducing gun violence would pay off many times over in the long run – most notably in reducing the costs of courts and long periods of imprisonment. Moreover, saving of thousands of lives each year would most certainly be worth the short-term cost of spending a few billion dollars to get as many of worst types of guns off the street as possible.
As the number of guns is reduced, the black market price for outlawed weapons would skyrocket. Most criminals would find it increasingly difficult to obtain such illegal weapons. Gradually, one gun at a time, violence decreases.
Naturally, such a buyback program must be accompanied by strict federal quotas on precisely how many weapons may be manufactured, followed by prohibitions against them being sold to the public.
HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: SAVING ONE LIFE AT A TIME
It’s not about achieving total success or ending all violence. It’s not even about idealism or changing the world. It’s much smaller than that. Rather, it’s about saving one life at a tme.
Fact: There are too many guns in America.
There are too many guns in our homes. Too many guns on our streets. Too many gun shows. Too many gun stores. Too many perverted influences – like movies, television, and video games – which distort the real dangers of guns.
This isn’t something that’s going to be solved in a year or even a decade, perhaps. In fact, we’ll probably never solve this problem completely.
That’s the bad news. But there’s also some good news. And hope.
Even if our critics are right and we’re only half as successful as we want to be, or even a quarter successful, isn’t that still worth it?
If we reduce accidental gun deaths by a third and street violence by a quarter, isn’t saving perhaps 20,000 lives this year, and 25,000 the next, and 30,000 the next worth it? And in this arduous process might we make it considerably more difficult for things like Sandy Hook and Columbine to occur again and again? Or must we play Russian roulette from now on every time we go into a public place, hoping that we’re not the next target in the lunatic lottery.
Is it worth it?
Of course it is.
Positive change isn’t a win-lose proposition. Rather, progress is more often an incremental, sometimes painful, process taken one small step at a time. Getting rid of one gun at a time from our homes and streets and schools. Removing one bullet at a time. Saving one life at a time.
This must be our conviction. From this moment forward.
– Nolan Dalla