The gun control debate has become front and center since the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
Americans have seen too many of these types of tragedies over the past decade. We have become numto it all. We seem to have decided that this is the “new norm” for this country. But it doesn’t have to be.
This is a great country, and we are a great people who have done great things in the world. The tragedy in Newtown has seered the collective consciousness of this nation and the world. The mass killing of twenty innocents, twenty babies, twenty young souls is beyond belief for all of us.
The nation is grieving today. But the nation has seen this picture all too many times in the past. We have grieved for the students of Columbine, the students of Virginia Tech, the patrons of the Aurora theater, the young children of Newtown, and sadly the daily carnage that we see on the streets of major cities across this country everyday.
It is a sad commentary on where we are as a nation with respect to guns and violence. Yes, Americans have the right to purchase and own firearms, but most Americans believe there should be some limits on certain types of guns and gun accessories.
The United States of America is an armed camp. There are more guns in America than there are people. Guns are a way of life in America, and that will never change.
People like to collect guns, they like to do target practice, they love to hunt, and they want to protect their homes. But the idea that there should not be any regulations or any discussion of regulations on guns is bordering on lunacy and extremism.
Mature individuals should be able to talk about this issue without some of us going into fits of rage about the government confiscation of firearms. That is crazy talk. That is fringe rhetoric that should be taken for what it is—an attempt to stir up fear and anxiety among the uninformed and the gullible.
There is common ground to be explored on this sensitive and emotional issue for many Americans. We as a nation should be willing to deal with reasonable and common sense gun control measures that do not impede the ability of any law abiding citizen to purchase or own a firearm.
The truth is that any law abiding American who wants to purchase and own a firearm, should be able to do so. But that is not what this debate is about.
This debate is about whether anybody should have right to own assault weapons with the capability of mowing down scores of innocents like the young children of Newtown.
This debate is not about taking anybody’s gun or restricting any law abiding citizen from having a gun.
This debate is about common sense solutions to help curb the gun violence that is so prevalent in our country, and the utter incalcitrence of the pro gun lobby that constantly gins up the fear among those who are uniformed and are used as pawns for the profiteering of gun manufacturers.
The question for all of us should be, why is there even a discussion of whether anyone should be able to buy “cop killer bullets,”and armor piercing bullets?
The answer to that question is a resounding no.
Anybody with common sense knows that these types of armaments should not be in the hands of anyone who is not in law enforcement or the military.
It is hard to believe that a civilized nation can not find the resolve or the courage to tell weak kneed politicians, who are feeding at the trough of the gun lobby, that there are common sense measures that a majority of Americans believe can be enacted without infringing on anybody’s constitutional right to own a firearm; such as, universal background checks, closing gun show loop holes, sharing information among law-enforcement agencies, and a focus on mental health care—just to name a few. Think of the lives that could be saved if we worked together to achieve these small changes.
Here are some numbers that we should all think about and remember— 20 (the number of young children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary), 6 (the ages of the young children who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary), and 1( the grade of the children who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary), 900 ( the number of people killed by guns since the Sandy Hook massacre), 85 ( the number of children killed since the Sandy Hook massacre), and finally, 30,000 ( the number of Americans killed by a gun every year).
These numbers are why we should all listen to the words of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who herself was the victim of gun violence, when she recently said in an interview—”Enough, Enough.” And that is my take.
Prentiss Smith lives in Shreveport.