We celebrate many things during the holiday season -- family, faith, giving, even shopping. But since 2012 in the U.S. the season is not all about celebrating. It's also about remembering one of the darkest days in decades, December 14, 2012 -- when 20 first graders and 6 educators at Sandy Hook elementary school were gunned down by an ex-student wielding a shotgun.
The horror will forever be linked to the holiday season, and we owe those families at least a moment of silence. But the loudest silence of all has come from our lawmakers. You'd think a tragedy like Sandy Hook would have immediately triggered more laws to make guns harder to get, easier to trace, and kept out of the hands of teenagers and toddlers alike. It didn't happen.
Thanks to the National Rifle Association and the fear it engenders in the chicken hearts of elected officials, congressional response has been exactly zero. Multiple gun control measures have fizzled in the Senate without even making it to the House.
Some progress has been made at the state level, but at least 20 states have expanded gun rights laws. When limits are passed, pro-gun forces are fighting back hard. Last month 21 states banded together to overturn Maryland's tough gun-control law, claiming its bans on 45 assault weapons and 10-round magazine limits violate the right to keep firearms at home for self-protection.
The Sandy Hook massacre was done by a 20-year-old using his mother's gun. But he could have bought it himself, because our ridiculous laws let 18-year-olds buy rifles, and in some cases even Uzis. According to the Washington Post, in 30 states any kid can own a gun if it's a gift.
Since Congress won't pass laws to limit the availability of firearms to responsible adults, maybe they'd be willing to tackle the problem from another direction. If legal gun buyers are leaving their weapons unsecured, or giving them to young teenagers and kids who end up killing someone, they must pay for their carelessness. They should be punished just as surely and just as severely as if they're pulled the trigger themselves. Clearly, it's time for jail time.
Tougher laws on unsecured firearms wouldn't stop all gun crimes, but it would go a long way end the tragedy of school shootings like Sandy Hook.Listen to the two-minute radio commentary here: