When smoking was still permitted in restaurants, you’d sometimes see signs: “No pipes or cigars”. That was because the smoke from those is much stronger. To me, this is a way to look at gun access. There are many valid reasons for owning a gun; for hunting, target shooting, self-protection. Many types and models that serve those purposes well have existed for many years.
Other firearms are designed for specialized purposes. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons, assault and sniper rifles were developed for military actions and are what you want in those situations. But for civilian hunting, sport or protection, their capabilities are not needed. Like cigar smoke, they are too strong for a setting of civility.
Our communities and streets, we hope, are places of civility. So let’s remove the “overkill” weaponry from them. That’s all previous US gun control legislation tried to do, and having even that back would be a vast improvement today.
There may well still be people who for whatever reason decide to shoot strangers, family or friends – maybe many of them, maybe even 6 year olds. But if they weren’t carrying firearms that would hold such large ammunition clips, maybe they wouldn’t be able to kill so many.
I think, by definition, those who kill people they don’t even know have something seriously wrong with them. There are ways, perhaps, to redirect or resolve their personal issues. Something more is desperately needed in our mental health support system.
A blog by a woman about life with a potentially violent son is chilling, but her honesty and insight makes it required reading for all of us. Provision of mental health care must be improved. But, please God, not just with psychiatrists prescribing yet more psychotropic drugs.
‘The Culture of Violence’ has been much talked about since the massacre in Newtown. Video games, music, movies, drugs and media hyper-attention have all been blamed. All may contribute, I think. But that’s a very large and amorphous mass – called, indeed, culture. Can’t change it all with legislation.
I wonder if Miss Manners hit the nail on the head in discussing the loss of the dinner party as a social staple. In the NY Times, she says the ability to converse and generally act civilly is gone, replaced by opining and expounding without listening. However, courtesy and respect can be taught and practiced at home with family and friends.
To go back to the smoking analogy, people have adapted to bans on even cigarette smoking. If they can do that, why should it be any more difficult for people to adapt to something much less physiologically distressing like having limits placed on the types of firearms, modifications and firing capacity you can legally have?
There is a final irony in what happened Friday in Newtown. Connecticut has some of the strictest firearm laws in the US. And the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a supporter of 2nd Amendment rights, is based there, in Newtown. The gun industry has a long history in Connecticut. Some of the country’s largest gun manufacturers have their headquarters there. They pay taxes to the state and provide jobs. One may ponder whether the right to unbridled gun ownership and those jobs and tax monies are worth the 28 lives lost Friday.