Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In 2009, there were fewer than 200 homicides in Canada due to the discharge of a firearm. In 2009, there were over 9,000 homicides in the United States due to the discharge of a firearm1.
I know that there is a deep-rooted history of gun ownership and gun usage in this country, but I see no reason why the future of this country has to continue in the same trajectory. I understand that the second amendment exists. I've also read it very carefully and I don't see a lot of folks I know who own firearms to be part of a well regulated militia. I do see a lot of folks I know, die-hard NRA supporters, who say it is their right to own a gun (period, end of thought) and the government can not take away that right. Well, guess what? Even the Constitution says that the militia should be well-regulated. I see no reason why gun ownership can't be exceptionally controlled.
I know that what I am typing is unpopular, at least among the folks I see on my Facebook feed and who I believe represent a fair cross-section of the nation. Guns kill. Let's take away the most dangerous weapons first and work our down from there. You want to hunt? Go learn how to use a crossbow. You want to go target shooting? They have those awesome laser guns. You want to protect yourself in your home? Take a self-defense class. Get a security system. Get a dog. Get a wooden bat. Get a fucking Taser - they can kill, but generally don't.
Because, really, what I want is for the United States to continue on its strong tradition of fixing itself when it is broken. Article V of the Constitution allows a procedure to amend the Constitution when necessary. I don't actually think that the second amendment gives citizens carte blanche to own whatever killing machine they think is appropriate, but if that's how it's going to be interpreted then I think we need to consider amending the amendment so that it takes away that reading and leaves legislators with some ability to actually legislate protection.
But I'm not a fool. I recognize that there isn't going to be a change to the Constitution. I also realize that as heartbreaking as the events of last week were, in two more weeks, after Christmas and another large winter storm has swept across the land, this will be a blip on the nation's timeline of events, and nothing will come of it. Occasionally someone will remember the story and they will be sad for a minute or two, but there will be no long-term solution or action. It doesn't matter how many letters I write to my senators or representatives, who have surely written me off as a lunatic by now for as deluged as their inboxes get with tirades from me. It doesn't matter how many letters I write to the editors of local paper who don't care what I have to say, the strange underemployed woman who lives in a small town of little importance to their readership. It doesn't matter how many times I think about those poor children who watched and heard their schoolmates get shot. It doesn't matter.
And I think that is what is most horrifying to me about what happened last week in Connecticut. It doesn't matter. Nothing is going to change. All of the victims - the kids, the teachers, the gunman's mother, and the gunman himself - will have died in vain because the system is broken. The idea of checks and balances has turned into stalemate and deadlock. Cooperation and compromise have given way to partisanship and rhetoric.
Let me be wrong. I hope I am. Because right now I'm feeling hopeless. But I don't feel anywhere as bad as the families and friends who are trying to figure out how to continue on with their lives after the events at an elementary school left them without their loved ones.
1 The very awesome http://www.gunpolicy.org/ that compiles data of firearm usage internationally.