The Newtown shootings changed Alex Yarde’s sense of safety. Now he’s even more shaken as the Assault Weapons Ban has been cut from the gun control bill.
Yesterday I woke to news that sank my heart. The Assault Weapons Ban was excised from the gun control bill. Senator Reid claims that in this political climate, he simply didn’t have the votes. Just three months after the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, he did not have the votes…stunning. Diane Feinstein was disappointed as well. As author of the first ban, she knew the window of opportunity for passage of a new ban was small. I am sure that checking the pulses of Mayor Moscone and Gay Rights Advocate Harvey Milk while they lay slain by assassin’s bullets and seeing coroner’s photos of the dismembered bodies of the Newtown school children motivated her. Where is everybody else? What is motivating them?
The morning of the Newtown shootings, I had the same sickening feeling I had on 9/11 (9/11 for me was a long commute on a bus and walking home while desperately trying to connect on the phone with my wife, who worked in the financial district). The early media responses from Newtown immediately made me think about my own children in school, as I’m sure all parents did. That night, I hugged by children extra tight and watched the coverage of unthinkable events (not so different than 9/11 when I hugged my wife, covered in soot, extra tight and watched the coverage of unthinkable events). I think that is where the analogy stops, however. After 911, there was unity that led us to a “war” with the terrorists, because we wanted to protect our way of life.
Newtown, however, has also changed my way of life. Fully understanding how the easy access of weapons could impact my life makes dropping my kids off at school every morning a challenge. I wonder all day: is the building locked, is the classroom locked, are visitors being buzzed in all the time, when will school let out (so I can breathe a little easier)? I also wonder who in my town owns guns and whether they are locked. I know that I need to ask this question before play dates. It is certainly a new dialog.
Yet, somehow, in this case, the way of life that seems to be most protected and advanced is the ownership of guns, not our safety. Since Newtown, 2,793 Americans have been killed by guns in the United States*. In fact, according to a UN study from 2003 -2010 88,000 people were killed by guns in United States.
Given our response to 9/11, I would think that if 88,000 Americans were killed we would move heaven and earth to rectify the situation and become proactive to protect our way of life. Wouldn’t we?
*as of my writing of this article, according to @gundeaths