Photograph: J. R. Blackwell
On Friday evening, December 14, I went to bed with a migraine as I continued to be haunted by the thought of parents grieving for their children killed at the Sandy Hook School. Gazing at my Christmas tree, I thought about the holidays ahead, the gifts that will remained unopened. A tragedy of this magnitude affects all of us. For me, a debilitating headache; for those families, a debilitating heartache.
The only thing that cures my emotional overload is taking action. I’ve always been a gun-control advocate; now has to be the time to address the injustice of unregulated gun purchases.
One of my friends of Facebook asked: “Those kids, Why little babies?” My response: Because the sale of deadly firearms has been ok with us.
That response triggered a flurry of comments:
“Stop trying to advance your political agenda at the expense of this horrible tragedy. Instead of trying to politicize it.”
But victims of shooting crimes were speaking out that very night against gun violence, and an email from Roxanne Green, whose daughter was killed in the Arizona shooting stated, “I’ve heard a lot of promises from politicians since my daughter was murdered in Tucson, Arizona, including President Obama. But I am still waiting for them to act.” Steven Barton, wrote the same evening of his harrowing experience of being shot during the Batman movie, stating: There was no action taken to make sure that something so horrific never happened again. Washington avoided starting a meaningful dialogue on gun violence, and the costs of that were tragic.
I cannot presume in one post to solve this problem of gun violence. I propose a series of questions to consider:
- Over thirty Americans are murdered with guns every single day. Our broken laws remain ineffective, and our political leaders have been unable to stop gun violence. What can citizens do to mobilize for gun control?
- Has the “right to bear arms” morphed into an American obsession and addiction? Is an accurate interpretation of the Second Amendment entitle citizens to own guns and is this right absolute?
- What role has the NRA and other gun lobbyists played in thwarting the “will of the people” to regulate guns, as polls show the Americans support specific policies regulating guns. Why are lobby groups given this power?
- Does the American health care system support those afflicted with mental disorders? Is there widespread support to help those with mental disabilities and their families? In what places does our system fall short?
- What specific regulations could be passed immediately that most citizens would support?
- Would criminalizing verbal threats to life and identifying individuals who display dangerous and violent behaviors, preventing access to firearms be an effective strategy?
- We are a world community. How do we address war and violence sanctioned by the state?
- How do we examine our culture to determine how the society encourages violent solutions and reactions?
- Why not pass laws that make it illegal not to have guns locked and secured and keys unavailable to anyone but the owner with huge fees and penalties for breaking these laws? Why not mandate that gun owners carry mandatory insurance?
- How does the freedom to own guns impose on the freedom from the dangers that guns bring to the public?
- How do we educate folks to seek answers to this complex problem. One Facebook response, the tragedy “had nothing to do with fire arms.” Why are segments of the American population in denial about our gun culture?
We do know that if the current state of gun regulation remains the same, these shootings will continue to happen over and over and over again.