Friday, December 28, 2012

Darkness Amidst the Light: Light Beating the Darkness

Dec. 28- Liturgical Calendar date of The Slaughter of the Innocents

 It is now 14 days since the tragedy at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School. Two weeks of mourning, questions, fears, and a seemingly endless news cycle broken only momentarily by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Time to make real what President Obama said at the vigil on that Sunday evening: This has to end.

That means some sensible gun control discussions and debate. Let's forget the hysteria. You know it well. I know it well. We need assault weapons in private ownership like we need to return to using quill pens and oil lamps. NO, it is not a way to protect ourselves from the government, as I heard one legislator say. Are you freakin' insane, I wanted to ask? Having hoardes of private citizens own assault weapons to "protect from our own government" is not a constitutional right. That is NOT a "well-regulated militia." That is anarchy, which by definition is not well-regulated. Arm the principals of the schools? You may very well lose a lot of good principals who don't want to be part of a gun-culture. Put armed guards in every school? Columbine and Virgina Tech had those.

And will we put armed guards at every mall, place of worship or beauty spa in the country? Will we become an armed camp with guns in the hands of every Tom, Dick, and Harry? How scary!

Cars don't kill people, drunk drivers do. That is just insane to even post as a reasonable thought. It is why we have laws ABOUT drunken driving, what you could call "Drunken Driving Control." When Minnesota got tough on drunken driving, for example, DUI arrests shot up AND deaths from drunk driving dropped. Note that no one outlawed cars- or even drinking. Just putting the two together.

Why should it be harder to get good mental health care than to buy an assault rifle? Why are background checks for gun ownership so difficult? We do it for teachers and counselors. Is owning a gun so much of a right? Freedom of the press is just as constitutionally protected, yet we say there are times and places when there is such a thing as privacy and confidentiality limiting some of that. Why are firearms so sacred?

Perhaps in that last word is part of the problem. They have become sacred- a holy grail- inviolable- more important than human lives. They have become a god. There is the real, profound issue that no one can talk about. We have set up a false god that controls us. The power of the gun. No, not the gun lobby. The power of the gun. It is devouring our nation in its primal scream to survive.

I am not a gun owner. I don't believe I would ever own one. Protection? I wouldn't be able to use it for that. I would be so afraid of over-reacting and shooting someone I love by mistake. It happened locally here just a few weeks ago. Accidental deaths by guns may be more than were killed at Newtown.

I am not against gun ownership any more than I am against people owning cars or driving cars. Let's not over-react in either direction. But let's be sensible and reasonable about it. High-capacity weapons and clips controlled or banned; assault rifles made for the single purpose of killing people banned; background checks required. These are reasonable.

Is this politicizing the deaths on Connecticut? Yes. It was politicized the minute the shooter walked into the school. It is an issue of how resolute we can be to both protect lives and rights. We have to be able to do both. We remember the freedom of speech measurement- you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. That limits free speech just as libel laws limit it and the freedom of the press. Democracy is a delicate balance between rights and protection; freedom and life.

We can do it. We are a bright and caring nation. Let's use our ability to overcome the barriers to discussion and sane legislation. Too many ore people will die if we don't.

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