The word “insanity” gets thrown around during tragedies, but Professor Warren Blumenfeld (and many others) believe it goes far beyond the individual.
My grief and anger collide from that primordial place deep within the recesses of my being as I learn more about the horrific events recounted by close eyewitnesses and the loved ones of the numerous dead and wounded. Pictures abound of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, television interviews with young children and their teachers who talked about the horrific events that took the lives of 20 of their young classmates and seven adults at the school. This comes in the wake of similar images from a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon, a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a grocery store parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, and so many more mass murders throughout our country.
Each time I hear of yet another incident, I think back to the very first thing that caught my eye as I entered the grounds of the Iowa Republican Party Presidential Straw Poll in the summer of 2011. Three young children, I would guess between the ages of 4 -7, sporting day-glow orange baseball caps with “NRA” [National Rifle Association] scrawled atop, and round stickers on their small T-shirts announcing “GUNS SAVE LIVES.”
There’s even a gun club in Scottsdale, Arizona, offering its members the service of sending out their Christmas cards with family, including infants, posing with Santa while holding pistols and military grade automatic weapons, fa la la la la, la la la la. Joy to the world?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though, gun related violence has reached epidemic proportions in our country by snuffing out the lives of upwards of 30,000 people and wounding many more annually. Each year, over 100,000 people are affected in some way by gun violence. Many of the guns used in these killings reach military level weapons power, guns which currently remain legal. Today in the United States, there are 88.8 firearms per 100 people.
Of the estimated 61 mass murders in the United States since 1982, most of the shooters obtained their weapons legally. Demographically, the shooters in all but one case involved males usually white, with an average age of 35 years.
Should any limits be placed on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”?
I believe we must close loop holes such as buying a weapon at a gun show. We must increase the waiting period and make background checks more rigorous and effective. Furthermore, we need to limit the number of guns any individual can own. We must also rethink the “logic” of permitting concealed weapons, especially in places like houses of worship, colleges, bars, and political rallies. Moreover, all data bases monitoring gun ownership must interface to assess the gun owning population more accurately.
But as we all know, the chances for comprehensive gun control in the United States is only a pipe dream since the NRA controls Congress and state legislatures, for if they did not, we would have seen effective laws passed years ago resulting in countless lives saved.
Since Columbine, there have been 181 school shootings! Then, how many more Newtons, Portlands, and Oak Creeks; Columbines and Auroras; Fort Hoods; Virginia Techs; Northern Illinois Universities; Tucsons; Pennsylvania Amish schools; Santana High Schools; Springfield Oregon high schools; Jonesboro, Arkansas middle schools; Universities of Texas; Honolulu Xerox Corporations; Atlanta brokerage offices; US postal offices; Omahas; Red Lake, Minnesotas; Binghamton, New Yorks; Carthage, North Carolinas; Stockton, Californias; how many more dead on our streets and in our homes to urban and suburban violence; how many more gun-induced killings to domestic violence; how many more accidental killing; and how many more Gabby Giffords and Harvey Milks, Trayvon Martins and Lawrence Kings, the famous and the not-so-famous will it take for this country and its politicians to wake up to the reality that, contrary to the NRA’s assertions, guns in the hands of anyone, in any and all stations of life, kill people?