Gun Control: A Matter of Health?
The unfathomable tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has made millions of Americans sick at heart. It has also brought a national gun control discussion back into the scope of conscience. So it seemed a great irony to me that just about 3 miles from my home there was a gun show on Saturday. You'd have thought they were giving away bags of money, the way folks were lined up, just clamoring to pay their $10 admittance. At the end of the event, hundreds of new gun owners poured out into the streets of my own community. And I have to admit, the thought made me ill.
Surely the American uptick in wounds and deaths from gunshots - intentional or accidental -- is cause for concern, even outcry, from healthcare workers who are dedicated to saving lives.
In the last few days I've seen all the objections to stricter gun control splattered across social media. For example: "The Second Amendment was written to allow us to protect ourselves from an overbearing government." Does that mean that in 2013 we should all be armed with nuclear warheads to even the playing field between citizens and our government? I hardly think so. We are no longer a nation of muskets and slow-fire weaponry. We have armed our people with AK47s, and the results are tragic. Technology has changed since the writing of the Second Amendment. It's time for thinking and rhetoric to reflect the reality of the world we live in.
Another complaint: "Why should law-abiding citizens who use guns for hunting be punished for the irresponsible acts of criminals?" Weren't the guns used in the Connecticut killing actually purchased by a "law-abiding citizen" who unwittingly allowed lethal access to her disturbed son? That's the rub. One never knows whose hands -- or whose contorted mindset -- a gun will fall into.
And then there's the one that goes: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people. People can use lots of things as weapons -- from box cutters to automobiles -- so why don't we outlaw those things too?" I'd suggest that box cutters and automobiles were created with a solid utilitarian purpose in mind. Guns, however, were created for the sole purpose of shooting someone or something. There's a big difference. Furthermore, if that's the argument one really wishes to promote, shouldn't we at least make it as tough to get a gun as a driver's license? The people pouring out of that Saturday gun show were not taking competency tests or jumping through hoops.
There are those who suggest that if private citizens all carried guns, it would thwart ill-doers from their deeds. But imagine what would have happened had all the people in that recent Aurora, Colo., movie theater attack pulled out their personal protection arms and started firing across a blackened theater. How many more deaths would we have seen?
I don't expect to change minds by my thoughts and observations. But I do ask every one of you to really think about the "benefits" of a Wild West mentality; packing heat too often leads to Death Valley.