Sunday, December 16, 2012

Think Of The Kids For One More Day

Some things should be off limits, even for aggressive marketers and publicists. For one more day, the media should not be pitched anything but experts and resources related to how we can decrease the level of gun violence in America. That is the only thing on people’s minds – or should be.

After September 11 no one was pitching diet and romance books to the media. Nor was anyone pitching books on business, sports, or gardening. The same was rightfully true immediately after Hurricane Sandy. And now the Newtown shooting massacre is another exceptional event that demands we stop, look, and listen.

No one should be discussing holiday books when we mourn the 27 killed – 20 of them young children. No one should just go back to business as normal.  Time should stop and the world should be put on a different course, one that may finally move us away from the excessive, senseless violence that plagues our country.

None of this is new. We have had numerous mass shootings in recent months and years. Each and every day we lose 32 people to gun deaths. But we need new reactions and new actions, otherwise we have allowed death and loss on a mass scale to become the new normal.

I don’t accept it. You shouldn’t either.

It is a national disgrace that out Congress and White House is bought and paid for by the NRA. It is already embarrassing and frustrating that lobbying groups dictate laws and policy on taxes, healthcare, and other key issues, but it is a nuclear meltdown to let a group like the NRA stand between reasonable gun laws and a civilized society. Many believe Americans have a right to own firearms, whether for sport or for protecting their homes from burglars or from a n oppressive government. But it’s one thing to support such a right and another to abuse it.

All rights have limits, exceptions and extenuating circumstances attached to them. Gun ownership comes with responsibility and reasonable limits. Here is what I think should be put on the table:

1.      Limiting the number of guns one can purchase in a certain period of time and over a lifetime. How do we justify one person owning dozens or hundreds of guns? What legal purpose does that serve?

2.      Banning guns that have rapid-fire capacity. We don’t need the equivalent of a machine gun to go hunting or to protect one’s home from vandals.

3.      Limiting number of bullets per a clip or magazine. Many mass shooters have to pause to reload at some point. Shouldn’t we make it harder for them to shoot off 50 rounds at a time before reloading?

4.      Limiting the amount of ammunition one can purchase in a given period of time. Should one person be able to stockpile thousands of bullets?

5.      Everyone must adhere to a criminal background check. Right now 40% of all gun purchases are done without a background check, thanks to loopholes such as omitting gun show purchases from the background check laws.

6.      Make it mandatory that gun owners have to undergo a psychiatric exam. If you are mentally ill or unstable, I don’t want you to own a gun.

7.      Require all gun owners to be taught gun safety, including proper gun storage.

No doubt, we cannot prevent all gun deaths, but we can reduce the number of lost lives. You can own guns, just like other things, but it needs to be under tighter control. Just as we do not allow people to own bombs, we shouldn’t allow other devices that can kill more people than bombs, to circulate so easily. Today’s gun is so explosive and destructive that we cannot just let them flow freely in the hands of the insane, the criminal, the ignorant. I cannot stomach listening to anymore irrational arguments and political cowardice.

For one more day, think of the children. And keep thinking about them. Don’t forget they died because adults don’t know how to control their toys.

Please, do something about it. Otherwise, we will just have this conversation again, and again, and again, and the body count will just climb. Over the next four years we will lose roughly the same total number of people we lost in all of the Vietnam War and Afghanistan War combined – to gun violence in America. I think we can do better – and no one will lose their “right” to own guns in the process.

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