Another Mass Shooting… When Will We Learn?
Something’s got to give before more lives are lost—and without action they certainly will be at increasing rates until we live in a world of anarchy. The investigation continues after a shooting broke out at the Washington Navy Yard, and at least 13 are dead and 14 others injured. The culprit? An unstable subcontractor with what was initially thought to be an assault rifle. Upon further investigation, he actually used a Remington 870–a short-barreled shotgun often used by the police and the military. Regardless the type of weapon, the tragedy is the worst mass killing in what is already widely considered a relatively violent city since 1982. But what happened at the Washington Navy Yard already occurs in Chicago every day. When is enough enough?
Allow me to preface my statements by explaining I am a gun owner. So I can certainly appreciate some value in firearms. Since wilderness habitat has shrunk so significantly in the past 200 years, harvesting the population of deer, turkey and other wildlife is necessary to prevent overpopulation, disease and starvation. But nobody needs an automatic weapon to kill a deer.
I also understand the desire to keep weapons for protection. But if you need an assault rifle to keep undesirables out of your home, we are all in deeper trouble than we even know. Assault rifles are designed to kill—and quickly kill a lot. The National Rifle Association likes to point to California, which has some of the nation’s strictest gun control and the highest number of gun murders–1,220 in 2011. But it’s also got a lot more people than most other states… NRA spokespeople like to forget that part. Granted Texas, with some of the least amount of gun-control laws, has two-thirds of California’s population, but about half its total gun murders–just 699 in 2011. Of course a lot more people are already armed in Texas, and when James Wright, Peter Rossi and Aldine De Gruyter surveyed federal inmates for their book, “Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms,” they found more than 74 percent acknowledged they had criminal plans foiled by an intended victim with a gun. So it only goes to say that armed Texans will be victimized less often, supporting the argument for gun ownership. But you don’t need an assault rifle to run off a burglar.
For those who claim they are preparing to protect their families and their belongings from the government someday… you’re paranoid. And even if you’re not… if the government ever hypothetically intended to slaughter its citizens, there’s no weapon you can obtain that will stop it. So you’re also delusional.
In fact, firearms were the third-leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, following poisoning and motor-vehicle accidents. But we sure try to regulate the road and prevent our food from contamination, don’t we? We still lament over the 58,000 young men who perished as a result of the Vietnam War, and that occurred more than 40 years ago. But those deaths were fewer than the number of US civilians killed by guns every two years. Where’s the proper outrage?
Should we protect our Second Amendment? Absolutely, just as we should protect the first, the third and the 14th. But even our most treasured freedom—speech—has its limitations. We learn in grade school that we can’t yell “fire” in a theater. We can’t lie in print or in court. We can’t threaten. And if we do there are consequences. So the second amendment should be both honored and limited. But every time our elected leaders attempt to do so, the NRA gets everyone all riled up, convincing gun owners the government is coming to take all their firearms–down to the last .22. And every time we—as a people—do nothing, more innocent lives are lost.
Of course many argue that stricter gun laws and stiffer penalties won’t matter, since criminals will break the law anyway. Why, with that logic we should have no laws at all. Why should murder be illegal since a criminal will break the law anyway? Ridiculous.
How many more shooting tragedies will it take before we learn? Was the Washington Navy Yard enough? Will it take another Newtown? If we can’t keep guns out of the hands of random criminals–and better care for the mentally ill in our nation–then let’s limit everyone. I don’t care who you are, if you are a civilian, you don’t need an assault rifle. You just don’t. Anymore than you need a tank. The second amendment says your right to bear arms shall not be infringed. You know what they meant by “arms?” Muskets, not assault rifles. But that doesn’t mean the government is gonna take all the good ol’ boys hunting rifles away, either. It’s called a happy medium. Look it up.
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