So I’m going to start this by telling you that I don’t expect – or even hope – that everyone will agree with me. I don’t think you can change my mind about how I feel but I’m hoping I can at least get some people out there in the blogosphere to listen and reflect and take a deep breath and perhaps realize there is common ground to be found.
We all know what happened during the early morning hours last Friday in Aurora, Colorado. As an American, I’m horrified that we don’t have safety even in the most innocuous of places, a place you go to – and take your children to – to escape reality, to have, for a few hours, your everyday troubles tucked away in the far corners of your mind. But as a mother of a great kid who was at one of those midnight screenings on Thursday night, watching a movie he had anticipated for a year, an event he had purchased tickets for months ago, I’m sick with the notion of the evil that is out there amongst us every day, an evil that is enhanced and made easier to exercise by the reckless way that virtually anyone can buy weapons of mass destruction.
When I woke up about 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning and turned on the television and heard the news, even though I knew that this act of violence by a person (rightly called a terrorist by someone whose opinion I trust) had occurred clear across the country, I was compelled to call my mother – because my great kid had gone to her house to sleep after the movie – to make sure he was there, safe and sound and present. And he was, of course, and I knew he was but I needed that reassurance to maybe convince myself that the little protective bubble I like to think surrounds us and my family and friends and all the people I know was still there.
But I believe that so many of us think that we have a protective bubble that shields us from the horror, that evil will not invade our homes, or our schools, or our neighborhoods, or now our movie theaters. And that’s a rationalization that I think we have to have, to make our lives bearable and livable. You can’t shield yourself and your loved ones from everything but you can hope and pray that the bad stuff is never going to happen to you.
What makes me unhappy now, and sad too, is the beginnings of the “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” sensibility which has, miraculously, been silent for the last few days. I read a post on Facebook today that said something like “there are no good guns or bad guns but a gun in the hands of a bad person is a bad thing”. And it was attributed to that oracle of wisdom (and mouthpiece for the NRA when he was alive), Charlton Heston.
I understand how the Constitution of the United States works, the document that is sacred and provides all of us with so many protections and rights and liberties. And I know how deeply the people who are advocates of the right to bear arms believe their rights are embedded in the Constitution. If you haven’t read your Constitution recently, here’s what the second amendment says: “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 don’t pretend to be able to interpret what that means and I know different people – and different interest groups – interpret it in ways that support their position, as do we all when we need backup to convince others we are right, or at least more right than they are. But you will never convince me – or, I hope, anyone else with a moral compass and common sense – that our Founding Fathers meant this amendment to allow people to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition over the Internet, or assault weapons.
Although I don’t believe in it, I understand why people want to have a gun in their home for their own protection. And I will never understand the appeal of hunting – because killing a defenseless animal is not a sport, no matter how many times we are told it is – but I understand that people hunt and need appropriate guns to do that. But in what world does any one of us need armor-piercing bullets or assault weapons that spray bullets that allowed a person to shoot over 70 people in less than 5 minutes? None. There is no world ever that this is acceptable.
Do you need to take a test to prove you’re qualified to shoot a gun? More than likely not. But you’re required to get a license to drive a car and prove you’re skilled and understand the laws and the rules of the road and the consequences of your actions, even though – if you follow the logic of gun advocates I mentioned earlier – cars don’t kill people, people kill people. You’re required to get education to do almost anything meaningful or dangerous or important in this country. But anyone, it seems, can go on the Internet and find some damn fool willing and able to sell him or her items designed only to kill others. What are we thinking?
After September 11, I don’t recall there being that much of a pushback as our government instituted stronger security measures, designed to protect all of us, at our airports. We go through security, we have our bodies patted down, we stand in body scan machines and take off our shoes and jewelry and have our luggage x-rayed to make sure our travels are safe. But God forbid we should expect our government – whether federal or state or local – to enact some more safety measures to protect us against the prolific use of guns. What a double standard we have.
We have had 4 United States Presidents assassinated by guns. We lost Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King within months of each other, killed by guns. Ronald Reagan was nearly killed. We have had Columbine. We have had Virginia Tech. We have seen Gabrielle Giffords almost lose her life last year. And now we have Aurora.
Our 2 candidates for President should both be courageous and take a stand on this. Like him or not, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is one of the few voices out there pointing out these facts. We should be screaming at our elected officials to prevent this type of weaponry from being sold and we’re not and we probably won’t. Because our elected officials are so intimidated by the power of the lobbying groups who can mobilize their members the minute they get a whiff of some possible imagined threat to their rights. It’s sickening. It’s shameful. It’s not acceptable to me. And it shouldn’t be acceptable to you.