Friday, December 14, 2012

In the Silence between our Tears

(This was just published in The Huffington Post as well.)

I don’t much care how it happened. It happened. I don’t care that gun legislation of any significance is tantamount to the third rail of either party’s politics. That doesn’t matter now.

It is not naïve or Pollyanna to say that we are better off not possessing guns. We are. And before some idiot gives his “guns don’t kill people” speech again, I would point out that, absent those terrible tools of death, 20 children would still be alive tonight.

No, I am not interested in arguments about individual liberties, 2nd Amendment rights, or the pros and cons of the NRA. Children are dead. They went to school this morning and went to the morgue in a body bag before day’s end. That is the reality of who we are as a nation today.

We always talk about how Americans come together in times of crisis, how we are unified when it counts. But it counted today, only we thought it was okay to put off the conversation for one more day. Then our luck ran out - again. This is what I know.

A few months ago, after the shooting in New York City, I suggested that we should at least demand as much regulation as we have for driving a car. I pointed out that parallel parking could not possibly be a more necessary skill than knowing how to safely operate a killing machine you’ve purchased.

Yes, we cannot make sense of a madman’s actions. But the crawl on my TV screen has informed me that this gun was purchased legally, so the argument that criminals (or madmen) will obtain guns illegally no matter what the circumstance doesn’t really hold water.

Many have said this is a complex issue. It’s not. No guns, no gunshot victims. Simple. Cause and affect. And maybe it’s time that when we come together at our vigils, lighting our candles, saying our prayers, maybe we could contemplate the bigger picture. Maybe we can make a choice for our collective good instead of our individual need for the false feeling of security that gun ownership provides.

The 2nd Amendment was crafted for the sake of national security, so that our citizens could defend themselves against invading foreign armies. It reads as follows:

"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."

There was neither the weaponry invented, nor any conceivable notion that our “national security” would one day translate to meaning the need to defend school children from a lone gunman. But these are the times we are living in and all of these recent shootings pose the very gravest threat to our national security, clothed in unexpected garb, maybe, but a threat nonetheless that needs to be addressed.

We saw the President cry today. And as he wiped tear after tear from his eyes, many of us cried with him. And we cry for those children and adults who were lost and for the families and friends for whom the grief will never go away.

So no, today I don’t care if Bubba has the right to go hunt Bambi; I care that little Johnny and Suzie didn’t live to come home from kindergarten. We can say that this is horrific, but we cannot say that it is unimaginable anymore. It is becoming all too common an occurrence.

So don’t just sit around feeling hopeless, and helpless, and frustrated. Tell your representatives, all of them, that we need significant gun legislation and regulation, that it is a matter of vital national security.

And if you own a gun, ask yourself how you’d feel if someone like this young man today got a hold of it and went on a killing spree. What are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of your fellow countrymen? Are you brave enough not to own a gun?

Our soldiers and first responders may have signed up to put themselves in harm’s way, but our children did not. And we are the only ones who can protect them. So it is my fervent hope that, in the silence between our tears, we can find our way to redemption by standing for the fallen and being stewards for those who did not have a voice today.

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