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Friday, December 14, 2012 / 3:59 PM

The NRA Can Go To Hell: Connecticut Shooting Tragedy Should Be The September 11 Moment For Gun Control

The NRA Can Go To Hell: Connecticut Shooting Tragedy Should Be The September 11 Moment For Gun Control

At least 20 schoolchildren and six adults are dead in Connecticut at the hands of still another monster with still another assault weapon.

If I may speak as a father who dropped off his children at an elementary school today, this story did not happen 1,000 miles away. It is as local as local gets, and it is as personal as personal gets.

I am not rational about this today, nor do I care to be, because what happened today cries out for raw emotion and rage. I am as sad and angry about what happened in Connecticut as I have ever been about any news story ever, and that includes the September 11 tragedy, which prompted me to write a ranting tirade for The Riverfront Times.

Let this be the September 11 moment for gun control in the United States of America.

This is not the time for calm and patience and understanding and introspection. This is a time for action about the scourge of assault weaponry in this country.

We of course should pray and cry for the victims, and for the families whose lives have been permanently shattered, and we do. But something tells me that all those prayers and tears are not really going to do much for those poor souls today. Nothing will.

But we need to do something now. We need to do more than grieve for the victims and their families.

We need to legislate for them.

With no apology, I write these words without full possession of the details. I’m happy to indict assault weaponry on the purely speculative assumption that the monster in Newtown, Conn. didn’t perpetrate his evil with a hunting rifle alone. And if it turns out that the weaponry that could discharge so many rounds so quickly doesn’t fit the technical definition of assault weaponry, then that definition needs to be expanded, and the weapons outlawed.

In expressing President Obama’s sympathy and prayers for the victims, Press Secretary Jay Carney made the obligatory statement that “today is not the day” to discuss renewing the federal assault weapons ban, which Obama has said he supports. I understand that position, and it is the appropriate message to for the President to put forth out of respect for the victims and the horror that has occurred.

But today is the day that has a lot of us raging, and today is as good a day as any to demand that the nation turn its anger on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and anyone else responsible for perpetrating the spread and easy availability of assault weaponry.

The NRA can go to hell.

If NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre was a real man, he’d make his way to Connecticut to explain to those grieving parents that the guns didn’t kill their children, the shooter did. Or maybe he could tell them that the tragedy could have been avoided if only the teachers had been armed, or perhaps the children were themselves. Or maybe he could tell them about how precious the Second Amendment is.

Then he could go on to attack people like me in the liberal media for exploiting this tragedy for an anti-gun agenda. He could make it clear on Fox News that the real victim here, in the end, is the Second Amendment and those who so heroically defend it.

I’m honored to plead guilty as charged. I’m all for the rights of hunters to have their hunting weapons, and all for the rights of Americans to own basic weapons for their self-defense, but none of that has anything to do with assault weaponry. Not even a little bit.

Congress should act immediately—maybe today—to reinstate the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, the one that was allowed to expire in 2004. Were it not for the NRA, and the politicians who have prostituted themselves for its favor—or out of fear of its political wrath—that simple piece of legislation would be the law today.

If there is a one-in-a-million chance that today’s tragedy might have been avoided had that ban still been on the books, it would have been worth it. Make that one-in-a-billion.

And I think there are plenty of other gun-control measures that the U.S. should enact to make the acquisition of guns more difficult than, say, getting registered to vote. We should have longer waiting periods for gun purchases. We should prevent gun shows from circumventing reasonable gun laws. We should register guns, just like cars.

Yes, gun ownership should be legal, but it’s not a civil liberty that must be uniquely protected from any form of regulation. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can threaten to kill people. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you can perform ritual sacrifices. Freedom of assembly doesn’t mean you never need a parade permit. America can regulate the Second Amendment without destroying it. It can enact sane gun-control policies designed to made the country safer for its citizens without compromising their liberty.

That’s my anti-gun agenda, and I’m proud of it.

The burden of proof isn’t on the likes of me to prove positive that today’s tragedy would not have happened if assault weapons had been banned. The burden is on the NRA to prove why we need to be content to shake our heads in sadness about some isolated madman’s madness, and then go back to making sure that his weapons might be there for the next madman.

If that makes me crazy, so be it. If you’re a loyal NRA member, and I have offended you today—and I know it offends you even that I’m writing this today—then let me offend you a little more with this bit of craziness:

Those poor little children in Connecticut were a lot more precious than your Second Amendment rights could ever be.

When posting, please be respectful. Avoid profanity, offensive content, and/or sales pitches. Stlmag.com reserves the right to remove any comments or to contact you if necessary.

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Comments, page 1 of 3 1 2 3 Next »
Dec 14, 2012 04:34 pm
 Posted by  JM

Amen

Dec 14, 2012 05:07 pm
 Posted by  Mike

Why is there a picture of a Glock if you are talking specifically about assault weaponry?

Dec 14, 2012 05:17 pm
 Posted by  flyul1

The shootings today in the USA were horrible. But in China today a similar tragedy played out in one of their schools. I doesn't require a gun to commit horrific acts. Let's all pray for the stricken and their families. Lets not make it political.

http://news.yahoo.com/knife-wielding-man-injures-22-children-china-064458804.html

Dec 14, 2012 05:25 pm
 Posted by  Srphoto

It wasn't an assault rifle! He had 2 basic pistols with plenty of extra clips. You can't prevent evil, what about what happened in China today? http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/14/world/asia/china-knife-attack/index.html
Should we now ban knives too? What about all of the crime in St. Louis that involves teenagers and pistols? None of those weapons were acquired at a gun store, they were bought on the street. How are you going to collect or remove all of the guns that are already out there. Gun control would not have prevented the tragedy today.

Scott
Hugging my stepsons tonight

Dec 14, 2012 05:42 pm
 Posted by  Nick Kasoff

Hey, Ray, if we're going send people to hell, I'd suggest we start with over the hill journalists who are no longer capable of making a point without making a slur. I'd think that somebody who got rich on the 1st amendment would have a little more respect for the others.

In the news reports I saw, the children were killed with handguns, not an assault rifle. Taking away SKSs from 50 year old deer hunters isn't going to stop things like this from happening. And while you scoff at the notion, had the principal carried a concealed weapon, this never would have happened.

You say you don't want to live in a world where principals need to pack heat? Neither do I. But that's where we are, and no amount of left-wing regulating will change that.

Dec 14, 2012 06:49 pm
 Posted by  bhad18

Nick, you're a transcendent jackass. We live in a world where educators need to pack heat because the gun lobby---and the simple-minded gun enthusiasts who can't achieve sexual arousal without owning guns---make it so. Had the principal---an educated woman likely not at home in armed combat situations---been armed, the outcome would have been exactly the same.

We always hear from the erections-for-guns crowd how, whenever innocent people are murdered en masse by a freak with access to guns, if more people had been armed, the murders wouldn't have happened. Here's a clue to what should by now seem obvious: most normal people don't get off on carrying, using or owning guns.

Let's see if the NRA dilweeds have the courage of their misguided convictions, and actually go to Connecticut to publicly reaffirm their Pavlovian faith in the second amendment. It won't happen--for two reasons. 1) In the face of tragedy---especially when children have been executed---their second-amendment balls shrivel away to nothing. 2) They love guns. And although fundamentally stupid and confused, they're just smart enough to know how disastrous such a move would be.

Dec 14, 2012 06:51 pm
 Posted by  oddname

So another sad sad day that all of you supporting the NRA and their power f... on Congress and the rest of you who have very little common sense or even a historical perspective of the second amendment, its true purpose and the time in which it was written in. To pathetically throw in this China argument is so mindlessly ignorant it just makes me ill..and i am in no way some way left liberal out to ban guns from the citizens of the united states as the last time I looked 22 children INJURED by a man with a knife and oh yeah..NO DEATHS REPORTED is a whole lot different than 20 young children sitting in class MURDERED by a young crazy man wielding TWO guns. All these gun sucking people who tout God first, country second, and every person being able to own any kind of high powered weapon capable of wiping out an entire crowd of people in seconds are just apparently are not seeing the big picture here and the author is correct when he talks about how any of these gun people would react if their young kids were one of the kids cut down. Would they still be preaching that all the teachers, janitors, administrator, study hall monitors, special education assistants, and cafeteria workers should all come to work every day packing a loaded weapon "just in case" because that would "prevent" a person like this from committing this travesty. great logic idiots, that wouldnt cause any other issues at all.

Time for us to grow up, take a serious look at how we can work to find a balance between citizens having the right to own guns for protection and insane people having them to wipe out kids before they have a chance to celebrate another christmas before they finish grade school.

Dec 14, 2012 07:06 pm
 Posted by  Drewman

If you're going to bring up what happened in China, at least get your facts straight. In 2010, a rash of knife attacks broke out in schools, including one where 32 people were killed. The Chinese government did place restrictions on knives and perhaps that's why we're talking about 22 wounded instead of 22 dead. It's also the first incident of its kind in two years.

So you see, no one's naive enough to suggest that preventative measures will eliminate violence entirely. But there's no harm in making it more difficult for these people - crazy or otherwise - to obtain the weapons. And the ammo.

Dec 14, 2012 09:59 pm
 Posted by  cc0404

I'm not usually one to engage in heated debates of this nature but some of the comments on here have truly left me outraged and I cannot hold back.

To FLYUL1 and SRPHOTO: how can you both make such an asinine comparison? How can you justify comparing 22 injured, NONE killed; to 20 children effectively and quickly slaughtered by guns, ALL dead. What a disrespectful observation and comment. While I'm not trying to belittle the violence in China, the situation is simply not of the same caliber. We are talking about hundreds of people here - friends and family of the 20 victims, burying their murdered children, Merry Christmas... right here in our own backyard.

Some people argue that strict gun control cannot help the situation - because it's impossible to remove all the guns currently floating around... but what about moving forward? People should have to pass a battery of psychological tests among many other things before it's even possible to own a gun. While we cannot take back the guns that many unstable people still possess, at least we can take one small, tiny, positive and relevant step to hopefully improve things for the future. We can't keep regurgitating excuse after meaningless excuse and keep things the way they are. How is that working for us? It may take a long time to see significant improvements but that doesn't mean we should ignore the situation and adopt a passive attitude claiming things are too far gone and we can't make a difference.

How can one even draw a comparison from knives to guns? You can use a pencil to injure or even kill someone but no one has the balls to claim that maybe we should ban pencils too. The obvious difference: with a gun you can rapidly and efficiently murder dozens without any possible defense for the victims; victims of guns truly stand no chance.

The solution is not to send 7 year olds to school with guns for defense, or send inexperienced, and untrained teachers and principles to schools with guns - just stop making it so damn easy for mentally unstable and deranged individuals to buys guns like it's chewing gum. People kill people - with guns. Stop supplying the tools people use (if it can be helped, the tools that can wipe out dozens in seconds: guns)to people who kill people.

This shouldn't even be a political debate, this isn't about being leftist or rightist anymore: it's about basic human intelligence, common sense. You'd have to have no basic reasoning or judgement skills not to even recognize or fathom the possibility that stricter gun controls could help this situation. Name any other civilized and industrialized nation that have these slack laws and problems - there are none.

Dec 14, 2012 10:16 pm
 Posted by  cc0404

My post didn't acknowledge the additional, at least 6, adults whom were also murdered today... my deepest sympathies and prayers are extended to all of the victims and their families of today's horrendous and tragic act.

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