As I said in my blog, Friday wasn’t the time for me to get into the inevitable debate on gun control that ensued from the tragedy in Connecticut. While my heart is still torn for the victims of that tragedy, I feel that I can now address the issues I have seen involved with the shooting. Let’s begin…
I will begin with the disgust I have for some people who have exploited the tragedy. People like Mike Huckabee have used the situation to press his views on religion in schools. I am a liberal Christian, and I believe with all of my heart that God, who is already upset at the loss of so many innocent lives, is truly disgusted at the use of a tragedy like this for personal publicity, or positioning on a debate. If I held any kind of respect for Huckabeee (which I already don’t), this would have eliminated any trace of my misguided opinion on the man.
Of course, the latest news is that the Westboro Baptist Church of Anti-Christians will be picketing Sandy Hook Elementary. The greatest disgust I have is for this group of un-Christian crazies. They will be judged for their sins, and I’m sure God will find them wanting. I implore everyone who reads this to pass on this message. These people thrive on publicity. STOP GIVING IT TO THEM! I can only post this message because I am not nearly important enough to be considered publicity. The news agencies need to ban any news about these people. If they stop getting publicity, they will disappear from our lives. I’m sure they will still picket some funerals, but they will not be able to pass their disease of a message on to others. When all of the news agencies ban them from their news, smaller news agencies such as The American Complaint Department, bloggers, and social networkers should follow suit. Make them suffer the pain of obsolescence.
On a similar note, last night I saw a meme on Facebook about gun control using a picture of a woman who was obviously in very deep pain. The caption on the news posting about her picture said that she was waiting for news on her sister who was a staff member at the school. In most cases, I enjoy memes. Many of them are hilarious. Many of them pass on great messages. However, the use of this woman’s pain on the day that she may have lost her sister to violence is unacceptable. No matter what side of the debate you are on, there is a concept of decency that needs to be employed. This meme crossed the line. This poor woman’s pain is not a vehicle for anyone’s political opinion. It is not evidence to support an opinion. It is shameful to use her pain for your own personal gain. Some of the Facebook pages I love and respect shared this meme. If any of them happen to read this blog, I implore them to remove it from their page. I don’t think any of them are horrible. We all make poor decisions at some point. It’s how we deal with the mistakes that make us good people.
Finally, to the discussion that has dominated our discourse. Gun control. To my conservative readers – stay calm. To my very liberal readers – relax. I actually lean to the traditionally conservative side of the gun control debate. I do not support such difficult restrictions on guns that it becomes prohibitive to own a handgun. I also support peoples’ right to carry weapons in public. I even support the right to own automatic weapons. I will protect my family. The founding fathers built that right into the Constitution.
While the extent of the control that the government has over our right to bear arms has evolved over the years, the right still exists. However, the concept that we can own arms to defend ourselves against the government is outdated. A country as large and power as ours will never be overthrown by the people. It would throw our country and the world into complete chaos. The world economy would crumble. We still have the ability to alter or abolish our government as we know it by removing any of our representatives from office and replacing them with those we feel are protecting our interests. This is why our rights to bear arms can be limited by the government. It is not in any of our interests to make guns so accessible that they can be picked up by anyone at any time. For all of the lunatics killing people with guns, there are more who don’t have access to guns that might consider killing sprees. There are even those who don’t have the self-control to own a gun simply because they lack impulse control and may hurt someone out of anger. Strict controls must be in place to ensure that guns are as difficult as possible to obtain by people who are likely to harm others. As far as I’m concerned, this could include clearance by a licensed psychologist for anyone requesting a gun permit. This clearance must be available for a reasonable cost. If not, average people would not be able to afford obtaining a permit.
The other side of this discussion is that the criminals don’t care about restrictions. I agree completely with this argument. If we restrict the ability of the average person too much, it will restrict the ability of the average person to defend himself and his family from criminals. The argument that countries with no access to guns (or severely restricted access) have lower murder rates is ridiculous. In fact, the U.S. ranks 28th on the list of the worst firearm murder rates in the world. This comes as the U.S. is listed, by far, as the country ranked 1st in gun ownership percentage. Also, consider that many of the countries that restrict the right of the people to bear arms have human rights abuses that the people suffer at the hands of their governments.
I know it seems like I sit somewhere in the middle on this issue. That’s because I do. Our discourse is so poor that people can’t accept that there is a middle ground on any issue. We see it in our nation’s current debate over the “fiscal cliff.” The reality of the situation is that there must be a compromise. The same can be said of the gun control discussion. There is a middle ground. The right to bear arms cannot be taken away. However, it can be restricted. The answer isn’t to remove access to arms. The answer isn’t to make them accessible to anyone. The answer is to find a compromise that will protect the rights and security of the most people. For example, I would be open to armed security in schools. This is a concept that I believe many conservatives would support. However, the compromise is that taxes will have to be increased for the government to pay for the security officers. Is it too much to pay for our children to be safe? I don’t think so.
We don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where lunatics get guns and hurt innocent children. We can’t let our personal politics get in the way of protecting our most precious gifts. We can’t do this by continuing to argue and refusing to compromise. If this horrible tragedy has had any effect on us, it should be to bring us together to discuss these issues with reason, and with the best interests of our nation, and our children, in mind. Now is not a time for extremism. Now is not a time for irrational knee-jerk reactions. Now is a time for reason. Now is a time to honor those who lost their lives in a senseless tragedy by putting aside our pride and making real progress as a people and a nation. We owe this to the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School.