Sunday, December 16, 2012

Leadership and courage: 2 ways to stop the mass shooting madness

To be honest, I feel weird writing anything about the senseless tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, but to write about anything else seems frivolous and disrespectful to the victims. So here goes...and this will be more of a rant than anything else.

Twenty-seven people are dead due to the evil actions of a single man. Investigators are close to releasing information as to why a 20-year-old slaughtered innocent children, the adults that tried to protect them, and his mother, but it won't change the fact that Adam Lanza was evil. I'm not sure if evil is explicable or if there are varying degrees of it, but he killed BABIES by shooting them MULTIPLE TIMES. That fact alone makes me discount all the excuses that are being made about his mental state in the news. It also won't change the fact that parents who were planning for Christmas and other celebrations are now planning funerals. This fact alone is beyond comprehension.

Lanza isn't the only culprit. We don't have real gun control in this country because of cowardly, avaricious, self-centered politicians on both sides who allow themselves to bought and pimped by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Basically, lawmakers would rather protect themselves than their constituents. This has to change.

There's also the gun obsession in this country that allows an organization like the NRA to thrive. I'm all about protecting yourself, using guns responsibly for sport, or collecting them if that's your interest. I have uncles and cousins who hunt and have several rifles, and once considered getting a gun myself because I'm a single woman in the big city living in a neighborhood that while gentrified, is still a wee bit sketchy. One of my best girlfriends is a gun owner.  I get it. What I don't get is why people ignore or don't realize there's a middle ground. You can uphold the Second Amendment for law-abiding gun owners and have strong, sensible laws that restrict gun ownership so that guns don't keep ending up in the hands of those that are irresponsible, criminally inclined, mentally ill or just plain evil.

There's also the fact that there are nearly 300 million guns already in circulation in America and that if you put laws in place today, it still won't stop someone else from obtaining guns, legally or illegally, and committing another massacre. Apparently Lanza stole his weapons from the mother that he murdered after being turned down for a gun at a sporting goods store because he didn't want to wait on the background check, a talking point that I'm sure the NRA will use in a despicable fashion.

So, how many of these MASSACRES have to happen before people stop believing the lie that the government is going to take their guns away, and how long will it take for politicians to stop putting their own self-interest ahead of the safety of their constituents before we stop the madness? Do 50 children have to be killed, 100?  How many people have to die while Christmas shopping or watching a movie? How many young Black men have to die in Chicago, New York, and Sanford, Florida? Usually when these things happen, we rightfully cry and protest, but nothing happens. This time has to be different. If not, we only have ourselves to blame for the next massacre, because there will be another one if something doesn't change.

I have very few answers, but I do know we need to force our leaders to actually lead and put gun control back on the table and keep it there until there's a meaningful change in the nation's gun laws, starting  with reinstating the assault weapons ban. We need to put relentless pressure on lawmakers to exhibit some courage and actually stand up to the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby. We as country need to be courageous enough to address the gun problem in this country and resist our tendency to let a vocal, paranoid, and dishonest minority control the debate. Without leadership and courage, we are dooming ourselves to a bloody, violent reality where tragedies like Newtown become the new normal. I think I can safely say that this is no way to live.      

If you want to help the community of Newtown, here's some information:

The United Way of Western Connecticut in partnership with the Newtown Savings Bank has set up a Sandy Hook School Support fund to provide services to families and community members affected by Friday’s school shooting.

Donations by check can be sent to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT  06470

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