Maybe it's the nature of our 24/7 news environment, but this holiday season it seems as if every couple of days there's a mass shooting somewhere in this country. The latest one was the most deplorable, taking place at a Connecticut elementary school.
The Hartford Courant reported that shortly after 9:40 a.m., the shooter was in the main office at Sandy Hook Elementary School and at least one victim had numerous gunshot wounds. Two handguns were recovered from the scene.There's only one word I can think of for this: ENOUGH!
Mayor Mark Boughton said several victims had been taken to local hospitals. But details were sketchy. The Newtown Bee reported that a police officer carried a seriously wounded child from the building. (The Courant also said one shooter was reported dead).
Groups of students — some crying, some holding hands — were being escorted away from the school by their teachers. Some students were still in the school at 10:30 a.m., after it was placed on lock down, parents said.
Your "right to bear arms"—which, if you actually take the time to read the 2nd Amendment, is a conditional right, related to the necessity for a "well-regulated militia", which in the 21st century consists of the various state National Guards—does not mean that I need to think, every time I get in my car to go shopping or to the movies or out to eat, what to do if a gunman decides that the place where I'm going to would be a good place to vent whatever frustrations he has by way of his arsenal.
Your "right to bear arms" should not mean that you have a right to amass an armory, which can fall into the hands of your disturbed child and used in a mass school shooting.
Your "right to bear arms" should not mean that any attempt to regulate arms sales and possession is instantly seen by the gun lobby as reason for a revolution.
Your "right to bear arms" should certainly not mean that you have a right to carry concealed weapons and pull them at the slightest altercation.
Your "right to bear arms" should not entitle you to owning assault weapons which are useful only in war.
Your "right to bear arms" should not trump my right not to be shot while going along my daily business.
The fetishistic devotion to "gun rights" among the NRA and its supporters lead inexorably to tragedies like today's. When it's easier to legally purchase a gun than to legally acquire a driver's license, it's way past time to step back and consider a nation's priorities.
What societal good is served by unfettered access to guns of all types? None, as far as I can see. Among gun rights advocates, the 2nd Amendment has become a totem with no meaning, a dead letter. They focus on half of the bill, ignoring that bearing arms was a conditional right, written into the Constitution for a republic that did not plan on having a large standing army, where militia units would make up a large part of its armed strength during any war, and thus citizens had to have the means to participate.
I had a co-worker many years ago who proudly said that he amassed his arsenal of weaponry in the event that he'd have to go to war against the government. I'm not saying this is the majority view of gun rights advocates; but it is a view held by many. Of course, the fact is that the 21st century United States is not the 18th century version; it now has the world's most powerful military, and anyone who thinks they have to stockpile weapons in anticipation of the coming revolution would likely meet a quick end if it were to ever occur. But even though the revolutionists are the extreme of the gun lobby, they feed off of the same idea that gun ownership is an absolute right, not tied to any obligation.
And the NRA's answer of letting anyone carry weapons anywhere and at any time so as to be prepared to shoot down criminals is, of course, going to make things worse. Random, untrained civilians taking the law into their own hands is a hallmark of Somalia and Afghanistan, not of a 21st century democracy.
The NRA is one of the most influential lobbies in the country, with influence among both Republicans and Democrats. The only hope to counter it and neuter it is a mass movement of people who answer those who bray about their right to own guns with the even more emphatic response that we have a right not to be shot. Until that happens, events like today's will be repeated at a sadly regular clip.
UPDATE: Per CNN, the death toll stands at 18 children, 9 adults. But at least Ted Nugent's arsenal is safe.