So I wrote this: The President is Right on Target With Gun Law Legislation.
I needed to share my thoughts about gun control, and many of my fellow parents have reached out to tell me they agree with my feelings on the matter. I might not have felt so strongly about it, had it not been for the fact that over the last month, my son has been coming home from school, and telling me about the lockdown drills he’s been doing in class. He was so proud of himself when he told me his clever idea to stay safe. “If anyone came into my classroom with a gun, I’d pretend I was already dead so they wouldn’t shoot me.” Did I mention he’s 8 years old? He should not be worrying about things like this.
Like Huffington Post writer Lisa Belkin wrote just after the Sandy Hook shootings, gun control is very much a parenting issue now. That’s why I decided to write down my thoughts, too — my raw, emotional thoughts — on the matter.
In response, gun supporters have been attacking what I wrote, which is no surprise. The experience has confirmed that there are a lot of angry gun owners out there! Because I don’t really want to engage them in such a public forum as the HuffPo comments section — frankly, some of them scare me — I thought I’d share a few additional thoughts here.
First, an admission: I screwed up. I didn’t properly research my gun terminology, so a good portion of the comments call me out for my ignorance, and to an extent, rightly so. I said “automatic” weapons, when I should have said “semiautomatic.” I had my editor make the correction for me. My bad. I’m not a firearms expert. I’m not a constitutional scholar, as I said in the piece. I’m just a concerned parent. Nitpicking every word I use and every analogy I make is choosing to ignore the crux of my argument, which is that having a national conversation about gun violence is a good thing.
Dispelling some false logic… Yes, if we took away every gun (which, of course, this administration is in no way, shape, or form saying it wants to do), the bad guys will find other ways to kill. After all, the terrorists used box cutters to take down airplanes and kill over 3,000 people. But saying that we didn’t ban box cutters, so therefore we shouldn’t change the gun laws is using false logic. For starters, we did overhaul our entire airport security screening processes after 9/11 to include not being allowed to take any sharp objects — from nail clippers to knitting needles — onto an airplane. We did not ban these items. We just adapted the way in which we’re allowed to use them. Furthermore, I understand that these new laws will probably not stop every determined criminal. There is no magical solution, unfortunately. But if rethinking some policies can spare even one innocent victim, isn’t it an option worth exploring?
Let’s talk politics. Did I mention that I’m a Republican, with many family members who own guns? I didn’t write the piece to go on some pro-Obama, liberal soapbox. However, there are those who believe that tampering with gun laws is just the beginning phase of our country turning into a dictatorship. They’d have you believe that Obama would send armies into the homes of its newly disarmed citizens, just like the Nazis did. That’s what the staunchest gun supporters would have you believe. Is that not being just a tad paranoid? Here’s what’s true: Until Newtown, when it came to gun violence and gun control, Obama avoided the topic like his election depended on it. Maybe it did. But after Newtown — after the election was already in the books — the public outcry demanded he take this issue on, and so he did.
Not all big cities with strict gun laws are overwhelmed by violence. I live in New York, where Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo have been far more outspoken than the president on gun violence. And guess what? New York is considered one of the — if not the — safest big city in the nation! Sure, there are still too many illegal guns on the streets, and still lots of work to be done, but at least we’re taking steps toward making the city and state safer.
Who decides who’s worthy of gun ownership? That was a question asked in response to my post. Obviously, whatever law is passed will clearly define that answer, the most obvious being that those with a history of violent crimes should not be permitted to own a gun. And to be sure that that doesn’t happen, criminal background checks have to be a must; as of now, they are not happening across the board. There needs to be a real process and real consequences, just as there is a process for getting a driver’s license or applying for a loan.
The Second Amendment still stands. People are still not getting that message. No legislation has suggested that we take away the right to bear arms. We are blessed to have that right, but anything taken to the extreme will have consequences, and therefore, we put exceptions in place when necessary. For instance, we hold freedom of speech sacred, but the exceptions are we cannot defame others, or yell “fire” in a movie theater. The very fact that we have amendments in the first place indicates that we are a nation that is willing to change and progress for the good of its people. If that means our right to bear arms will require being screened, trained, and recertified after a certain time period, than so be it.
The truth is I wish this issue would go away on its own and never come back. But after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords, and the Aurora movie theater, we didn’t learn. Now we’ve added Newtown to the list.
We can’t just lay down and play dead. Not this time.