In the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, it is time to take a long, hard look at the role of guns in our society. This is not about politics but about pure common sense.
Let's start with the simple facts: a gunman, who is most likely insane, went to the front of a packed movie theater during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire on the crowd with assault weapons. A dozen people died and dozens other were injured and probably traumatized for life. A disgusting act that has shocked the nation, but who is to blame for what happened?
The liberals would say that it is the NRA and the gun industry, who make it absurdly easy to secure assault weapons in the United States, including over the Internet. The conservatives in turn would say that it is not guns but people who do the killing. Literally speaking they are correct, but if the essence of what the conservatives claim is true, then the reason we have crazy massacres in this country is because Americans are a bunch of homicidal maniacs with no impulse control; and if that part is true, then should we really allow this same crackpot citizenry to carry firearms? You see the problem?
The Second Amendment of our Constitution was meant to protect us from harm, but had the Founding Fathers known back then that the proliferation of guns would put us in harm's way today, I bet you anything they would have put safeguards in place to prevent abuse. The right to defend oneself makes sense but that should not encompass the right to own weapons of mass destruction, or to endanger the welfare of society. The belief that we need to stockpile guns of every kind to protect us from our own government is a sign of deep paranoia and madness. And to the people who think that way, let me ask you this: do you really believe that if the U.S. government decided for some reason to direct all its military might against you , you would stand a chance against them?
One thing that I do agree with conservatives on is that violence does not stem from any one factor alone, including guns. People do kill people (even if the easy availability of guns facilitates and possibly encourages the violence), and often the reasons are mental or emotional. There is a strong culture of aggression developing in America today which is pretty psychotic. You can see it when you accidentally bump into a stranger on the street, you can see it on the highway when someone explodes in road rage, you can see it in a bar when knife-fights break out over the smallest things, you can see it on the Internet when people start attacking each other in profanity-ridden tirades, you can see it on television shows that glorify mobsters and biker gangs, you can certainly see it in our political landscape, and you can even see it in 8-year-olds who exhibit large amounts of "attitude." Something is very wrong here.
But whatever the contributing factors -- guns, mental health, the effect of media violence, or something else -- a nation of heavily armed citizens is definitely not the answer.
I know Americans (or least some of them) love their guns and I also understand that they like the idea of being able to keep a weapon for self-protection or hunting. And there is no doubt that the majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens. But once again, there is a huge difference between owning a single handgun to protect your home or a rifle to hunt and owning a dozen high-powered assault weapons with high-capacity clips. Those are guns used to kill large numbers of people in short periods of time, so what possible rationale is there for private citizens to own them? There is none, and the Second Amendment was not meant to justify such a thing. In fact, the NRA's support of this shows just how perverted they are and betrays their true agenda, which is to protect the sales of their financial patrons -- the gun manufacturers.
Sure, not every incident of violence can be averted and there are always unforeseen factors that play into these things, but when you see a pattern emerging, you cannot just stand back and do nothing. It is a fact that we have serious problems in our society, from mental illness and sociopathy to a violent culture, and those are all things that we need to address without delay, but when you combine those problems with weapons of mass murder, you get a lethal cocktail of destruction. Restricting the availability of guns will not alone get rid of mayhem, but it will at least give us some breathing room to address the root psychological causes of violence.
The deaths of innocent people should never be a political issue or even an ideological one, but it is a human issue and as such, demands our open-minded consideration of the factors that contribute to it -- even if the conclusions we reach challenge our personal beliefs and make us uncomfortable. Just because you believe in the right to bear arms does not mean that you have to follow the NRA's playbook or that you cannot support sensible gun laws. The Second Amendment was designed to ensure our safety, but the way it is interpreted by the gun lobbies endangers our safety instead. As a patriotic American, does that sound right to you?
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