My Turn, Jim Beard: Founding Fathers never imagined this carnage
I do not understand how we (all of us) let America get to the point of children being gunned down in their schools. At what point did we decide that all of this carnage was acceptable?
I do understand that, with the exception of a few mentally deranged individuals, nobody really thinks this is OK. But we do nothing. We wring our hands, we cry, we pray to God that he does something about all of this, and we tell the parents and loved ones how sorry we all are, but then we do nothing. And our words ring hollow. Such is the hypocrisy of our nation and our culture.
It seems at times that it is hopeless. If the massacre at Sandy Hook didn’t change us, then what would? But that ends up with me looking down into the abyss of despair. So, what can be done?
Many of our politicians right after one of these shooting, tell us that now is not the time. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that this last week after the latest school shooting. Well, if now is not the time, then please tell me when the time is. Tell me the time and place, and I will show up. Give me a roadmap and tell me when we will address this national nightmare of mass shootings.
Those who are opposed to gun control always talk about mental health, but I have seen very little legislation to address the issue. Frankly, I think that most of the mental health talk is a deflection, so we don’t have to talk about guns.
When we speak of gun control, then we have to deal with the force, the power and the money of the NRA. I think the NRA is evil — not every member but as an organization. We see this in their declared intentions and in their total disregard for the protection of the people of this country from gun violence. I rarely say that about an organization, but they have stood in the way of common-sense approach to gun control for far too long. They need to be called out for the evil that they allow to happen.
Yes, there is the matter of the Second Amendment, but I cannot believe that the Founding Fathers had the kind of carnage that we are seeing in mind when they passed that amendment. Their guns were muskets, which required reloading every time they were fired.
Even with the Second Amendment, laws could be passed to restrict the mass proliferation of guns, particularly assault weapons, without restricting the rights of mentally healthy, law-abiding citizen to bear arms. Yet we seem to have no political will to try. Politicians fear intense opposition from the gun lobby. To all members of Congress, it is time to step up and be statesmen and stateswomen. Do what is right for a change.
The refrain I often hear from the anti-gun control folks is that either there is really nothing we can do or that restricting gun will not help. In fact, they often suggest that we arm all the teachers and nearly anyone else, as if more guns will solve the problem of gun violence.
More guns will produce more violent crimes just because they are readily available. There are roughly 300,000,000 guns in the United States of America. Nearly one gun for every man, woman and child in the country. What on earth do we need that many guns for?
Gun control laws do work. Most of the industrialized countries in the world have gun laws that are reasonably strict. Australia after a mass shooting in 1996 passed gun laws that by most objective analysis have worked. Most developed countries do not have mass shootings at any where near the rate of the United States.
Something is clearly wrong here and nothing is going to change until we make it change. It is not until we cry out in number too many to ignore will the politicians listen. And if they will not listen then, we need to vote them out of office.
I doubt that I have said anything new here. But I have come to the conclusion that we who feel that guns are the issue here have two options. We can either stare into the abyss and be sad and depressed, or we can take action. We can call or email our senators and representatives. We can send money to organizations supporting gun control. We can demand that candidates take a position on gun control and call them out if they will not support reasonable gun control legislation.
I am sure that I have not exhausted all of the ideas, but if you have a good idea, then do it. This is the only way we can really tell the grieving families in Florida how much we care.
The time of reckoning is here. Can America step up and do the right thing?
Jim Beard lives in Salisbury.