What Do We Truly Value?

Published: June 7, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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Gary Miller/Getty Images

Thirteen mass shootings since last Friday, and while victims’ families grieve, we all continue to hear and read the same words and see the lack of meaningful actions from lawmakers: “thoughts and prayers”; moral outrage commentaries (this being one of them); bipartisan talks; and proposed water-downed bipartisan bills.

According to a CBS/YouGov national poll: 81 percent of Americans favor background checks on all gun buyers; 72 percent favor Federal a “Red Flag” law – which would allow police and others to petition a judge to remove guns from the hands of those who, in the opinion of the judge are a threat to themselves and others, and 62 percent are in favor of banning AR-15 Semi-Automatic rifles.

Does that make a difference to legislators? Not for a decisive majority.

However, one thing that needs to change in the gun debate was laid out in a full-page ad that appeared in several newspapers across the country calling on editors, reporters, and columnists to label the issue properly: “It’s not gun CONTROL. It’s gun SAFETY.”

Paid for by the Vet Voice Foundation, the ad reads:

“In the military, we trained thoroughly to handle and store weapons safely. We’re subject to rigorous, mandatory background checks and other safety measures. Those procedures have nothing to do with control – they are in place to save lives. Please stop using the talking points of gun profiteers when reporting on an issue that impacts the safety of our children and our communities. Words matter.”

However, actions matter more.

Without an overwhelming tidal wave of support from those who believe in rights and responsibilities, we cannot begin to change.

Actor Matthew McConaughey, who was born in Uvalde, Texas, labels the issue “gun responsibility.”

Writing in the Austin American-Statesman, McConaughey says, “There is a difference between control and responsibility. The first is a mandate that can infringe on our right; the second is a duty that will preserve it. There is no constitutional barrier to gun responsibility. Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people is not only the responsible thing to do, it is the best way to protect the Second Amendment. We can do both . . .

“This is not a choice between guns or no guns. It’s the responsible choice. It’s the reasonable choice. It’s a quintessentially American choice: Where I have the right to be me, you have the freedom to be you, and we have the responsibility to be US.

“To find common ground on this issue, both sides are going to have to answer the call and reach for the higher ground of our collective responsibility.

“Business as usual isn’t working. ‘That’s just how it is’ cannot be an excuse. The heinous bloodshed of innocent people cannot become bearable. If we continue to just stand by, we’re living a lie. With every right there comes a duty.

“For ourselves, our children, and our fellow Americans—we have a duty to be responsible gun owners. Please do yours and protect the Second Amendment through gun responsibility.

“The true call to action,” McConaughey posted on Instagram, is for every American to take a longer and deeper look in the mirror, and ask ourselves, ‘What is it that we truly value?’”


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