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Guns are not the solution to gun violence
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Guns are not the solution to gun violence

I have watched the public debate unfurl in light of the horror in Newtown, Conn. It seemed obvious that guns were the problem. Guns are readily available to almost anyone.

I recall the first time I visited a Kmart in Kitty Hawk, NC, and saw displays of rifles and shotguns and all kinds of firearms. Call it naivete, but I had no idea that guns were so easy to purchase by basically anyone.

In light of this latest horror to befall us as a result of gun violence, the National Rifle Association finally offered its condolences and analysis on how to proceed.

And what is the NRA’s solution? No limitations on guns; no cutback on the sale of guns; no limitations on purchasing.

The NRA’s solution is more guns.

Let me repeat that: The NRA’s solution is more guns.

How is it possible that the American society has so distorted the understanding and intention of the Second Amendment for the NRA to suggest that the answer to gun violence is, to paraphrase the CEO of the NRA, that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?

Who exactly are the “good guys” (he’s referring not only to police but armed civilians) and who will identify them? You can well imagine that some of the “good” guys will turn out to be less good than they appear, and some of the “bad” guys will be misidentified. That means more people will be shot and probably killed because of guns.

The NRA’s solution is to place armed guards in every school. Without commenting on the efficacy, morality, or pedagogical soundness of such an approach, I’ll only ask just who will pay for the extra security cost of such a solution? Training and new security measures won’t come without an enormous price tag.

That price also includes societal costs. Imagine your five-year-old going through a metal detector when he or she enters a school building. Or airport-style searches as toddlers enter school for their first day.

I do not believe that having armed guards in each school is a solution. In some of the tragic shootings that have occurred, there were armed guards and it resulted in more deaths.

The solution to me seemed obvious. It is fewer guns or it is no guns.

The entire debate over the Second Amendment seems fallacious. The founders certainly did not intend that everyone be armed for every situation. Even assuming, arguendo, there were security needs about prowlers and other dangers, registered handguns obtained after testing for physical and mental acuity, as well as soundness, might be appropriate. However, we have seen the frequent utilization of assault weapons and automatic weapons that could never, under any circumstance, be appropriate for hunting. The only “practical” purpose of such weapons is their ability to kill people.

The shooter in Connecticut, unfortunately, typifies many individuals with a history of mental illness who have easy access to weapons. Since it is impossible to know the limitations of every person and their mental soundness, it would seem that the obvious limitation should be on their access to obtain weapons.

Curiously, the NRA likes to argue that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. What an obvious obfuscation of facts and simplification of a problem. Yes, people use weapons. However, the fundamental question is how did they obtain those weapons and why do so many people have them and feel they need them?

The killings in Newtown must serve as a call for dialogue on gun rights and comprehensive reform of our gun laws. Responsible debate can be constructive if real change is the result.

The issues have been debated for a very long time. People are deeply divided on this subject. But it is not really a political debate. Unfortunately, so many issues become struggles because of fundamentalist readers of the Constitution who believe in a literal reading of a document written in the 18th century, and make no distinction between a blunderbuss musket and a semi-automatic rifle that can easily be rendered automatic. The debate over security in one’s home and domain needs to be rationalized. More guns cannot be a practical solution.

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