When will it be enough?

Columbine came and went. We mourned, we vowed never again, we resolved to be a better nation. But it wasn't enough.

Ft. Hood came and went. We mourned, we vowed "Terror won't win", we resolved to learn the lessons imparted. But it wasn't enough.

Gabby Giffords will never be the same, and members from both sides of the aisle heaped praise on her. It wasn't enough.

Newtown scarred us as nothing had before. Twenty innocent children mowed down in a mix of easy access to weapons of war, mental illness, and a society at war with itself. We wept, we beat our chests, we vowed to honor their memories. It, too, wasn't enough, the words of resolve as evaporating steam.

Eight thousand have died at the end of a bullet since Newtown. All of them loved by someone, all of them precious to someone's heart. Their deaths weren't enough.

And now, another shooting, this time on a military base. And I will say it right here: it won't be enough.

It won't be enough that people serving the nation were picked off as if their lives were worthless. So were the children of Newtown.

It won't be enough that the shooter had a history of violence and should have never been allowed near a personal firearm. The laws won't be changed.

It won't be enough when "leaders" go in front of the cameras and intone platitudes. They've been well-practiced, and only serve to salve the pain without committing to action.

When will it be enough?

When every street in these United States is a version of Mogadishu?

When will it be enough?

When a libertarian paradise of self-defense is the only solution, because it's the one which doesn't upset entrenched interests which hold more sway over our elected leaders than the health and safety and lives of their constituents?

When will it be enough?

When we come to a point when the dysfunction is too great, when the idea of pulling out a gun to settle a grievance comes as second nature?

When will it be enough?

Will it be enough when a Senator's daughter is killed? When a Representative's husband is slain in a mass shooting? Will it be enough when those who decide the laws by which we live feel the full impact of their inaction, become one of the nameless statistics over which they tut-tut but do nothing?

The answer to a bad guy with a gun isn't a good guy with a gun. There were lots of good guys on duty at Navy Yard. That didn't help. The answer to a bad guy with a gun is to make sure that bad guy doesn't get anywhere near a gun in the first place.

It can't be that difficult. Our freedom can't depend on an armed nation. This is the 21st century; the frontier is closed; the natives have been subdued. Someone needs to explain to me why my freedom depends on my neighbor being allowed to amass an arsenal. Someone needs to explain to me why my freedom depends on an absolutist interpretation of the "right to bear arms", an absolutism which doesn't extend even to the amendment which precedes it.

I didn't have answers after Newtown. I didn't have answers after Gabby Giffords was shot. I never have an answer after the reporting of another death on our streets. And I don't have an answer today.

But if we don't start talking, seriously talking, and relegate the fringe to the fringe where it belongs, we'll soon have a nation not worthy of the name.

When will it be enough? When we say that it is, and not a minute before.


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