Sorrow and Shame

silence

Every time an attack, like the recent mass shooting in California, occurs too many of us react badly. Paralyzed by fear and anger, we retreat into a moral relativism that is simply breathtaking.

It’s become a sad reality that after every such attack, gun sales rise. The working theory is: If I’ve got a gun, I can do something about it.

“We’ve had 352 mass shootings in America in 2015,” Georgia Representative Eric Swalwell said, “and no one can recall a mass shooting this year where somebody who was armed in the vicinity was able to stop it.”

For the record, assault weapons used to be illegal under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban until the law expired in 2004. Multiple attempts to restore it failed.

The fact remains that there is no sane argument for any citizen to own an assault-style weapon; a weapon originally designed by the military for one purpose: to kill as many people as possible, as easily as possible. Every American has the right to keep and bear arms, but should they have the right to keep and bear an arsenal of assault guns and ammo?

Quite simply, the gun debate defies anything resembling moral reasoning much less common sense.

In yet another attempt to repeal the Health Care law last week, Representative Tom Price said, “This is simply the majority in Congress representing the American people.”

According to a recent (Nov. 23-25) Quinnipiac University poll, when asked “Do you support or oppose changing current gun laws to ban those on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list from purchasing guns,” 77 percent responded “Yes,” and 76 percent who agreed were Republicans!

Nonetheless, the Senate voted down just such a measure. Where is Mr. Price’s representation of the American people on this issue?

How does legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of persons on a terror watch list constitute a breach of your right to keep and bear arms? And yet, that is the astonishing logic used by lawmakers.

But let’s go to people who have the most practical experience on this issue.

According to the International Association of Police Chiefs (Oct. 26), “The proliferation of firearms is one of the factors behind a rise in homicide rates in many U.S. cities this year, according to senior law enforcement officials at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago.

“Acknowledging the power of the gun lobby, and the reluctance of Congress to enact stricter gun laws, the police chiefs told a news conference they were not anti-gun but wanted to keep weapons out of the hands of people with criminal backgrounds.

“ ‘Current rules on background checks apply to licensed dealers, but up to 40 percent of firearms sales involve private parties or gun shows and do not require checks,’ the chiefs said.

“The police leaders called for expansion of background checks to cover all gun purchases and for a stronger background check system to ensure all agencies share the same records including criminal and mental health backgrounds.”

Would universal background checks and banning assault weapons solve all mass shootings? Of course not, but they are two steps among many that need to be taken to make it more difficult for the wrong people to get and use military-style weapons and offer us some measure of security.

After 9/11, our world dramatically changed. Since Paris, that world changed again. We are living with an enemy that knows no boundaries of terror when it comes to carrying out unspeakable atrocities.

However, we are in the grips of another terror; it’s the terror in the minds and out of the mouths of those who value rights more than their collective duty to America; individuals who perceive respect as weakness and embrace a level of intolerance that we have not seen since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor where Japanese-Americans were looked upon with fear and suspicion and as many as 120,000 were rounded up and placed in internment camps.

It’s time to replace fear with reason.

The challenges before us with ISIS and others like them are enormous. We either respond with reason and intelligence or we react out of fear and intolerance.

This is no longer about rights. It’s about responsibility. It’s time for political leadership and all of us to act responsibly for ourselves, our families and our fellow citizens.

Update:  The Supreme Court has declined to review the ability of cities and states to prohibit semiautomatic assault weapons that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

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