Is This The Right Time To Have This Discussion? Oh, Yes... It Really Is.

How many more Columbines, Virginia Techs, and Sandy Hooks must we endure before we begin to engage in a substantive national discussion about reasonable gun controls in this country?

I left my teaching job last Friday afternoon at one Napa area school to go pick up my daughter at another, acutely aware that the horror that had played out in Connecticut just hours before that could have just as easily happened at either of the schools that I was at later that day.  And I am just heartbroken.

But more than that, I am -- frankly -- outraged.  And on the matter of gun violence and gun-related tragedies in these United States, and our consistent failure to effectively address those, I will be silent no longer.

Before I go any further with this discussion, however, please allow me to disabuse those of you who are going to quickly jump to completely inaccurate conclusions about me here (that I am "anti-gun"), simply because of the position that I am taking in this blog about gun violence in general, of that view.

I am not.

As a youngster, I even learned how to target shoot with a .22 caliber rifle and not only enjoyed it, but actually got pretty darned good at it.  But I think the evidence is pretty clear that there is a strong correlation between the fact that, here in the United States, we have the highest per capita rate of privately-owned guns in the world, not to mention access to inexplicably deadly ones that are generally not similarly available to private citizens in other developed nations, and -- by a long shot -- a higher per capita rate of gun-related deaths than any other industrialized democracy in the world.  And the time has come to have a serious discussion about what we need to do to start diminishing the tens of thousands of gun-related tragedies that occur here year after year.

We've all heard it said that: "Guns don't kill people. People do."  It's a silly argument, really, because the same, of course, could also be said about knives.  But with the kinds of guns that are currently available to the average consumer in these United States, people who kill people with guns can do that with stunning efficiency.  Not counting the life of his mother, whom the Sandy Hook gunman allegedly killed at another location not long before he arrived at that Connecticut school last Friday, it reportedly took him only about five minutes to end twenty-seven lives, the vast majority of those belonging to very young children, later that morning.  Yet in another widely distributed, but largely overlooked, news report yesterday, we also learned that another madman in China used a knife, instead, in an apparent attempt to end the lives of twenty-two schoolchildren and an elderly woman.  The death toll there from that attack?  Zero.

Notwithstanding the fact that the underlying intent of the Founding Fathers at the time the 2nd Amendment was established is subject to many different interpretations today, they could never have contemplated then the deadly efficiency with which the portable weaponry that is now easily accessible to most US citizens under our current system of "gun control" can take innocent lives.  With that in mind, it makes little sense to take a "strict constructionist view" of this matter now unless we also want to limit ourselves to consideration only of the firearms that were technologically available to American citizens then.

And please don't tell me that if a teacher had just been packing at that school, this might have ended differently, as Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America had the unmitigated gall to imply with the statement that “gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands."  Ask any teacher that you know and s/he will tell you that, while most of us would willingly take a bullet if that might spare one of our students from harm, carrying a firearm in the classroom at all times -- which is the only scenario under which such an argument even remotely makes any sense at all -- is not what we signed up for when we went into teaching.  Nor, for so many other reasons, is that the answer to this problem.

Despite the declarations by gun control opponents that "now is not the time to 'politicize' this tragedy,"  there really is no better time than now for us to have this conversation.  For history has shown us time and again that, once our collective national shock and horror over Friday's massacre begins to soften and fade into a much more muted collective national memory, so -- overwhelmed by the tide of the pro-gun community's stunningly successful efforts to reframe the argument about any reasonable attempts to put in place any kind of gun control measures and make it all about their interpretation of what "2nd Amendment rights" constitute -- will our national political will to enact policies that could prevent future tragedies like this one.

What got lost in the news on Friday, buried by the predictable, though understandable, "wall-to-wall" coverage of the Sandy Hook tragedy, was the story about the arrest of "an 18-year-old high school student in Oklahoma for allegedly plotting an attack at a school."

While the United States comprises only about five percent of the world's population, it accounts for some 87% of the gun deaths suffered by children 15-years of age and under worldwide.

How many more Columbines, Virginia Techs, and, yes, Sandy Hooks must we endure before we actually begin to engage in a substantive national discussion on the matter of reasonable gun control measures in this country that might finally move us closer to an end to this kind of madness? 

Let us not allow these innocents to die in vain.  The time to address this problem in some truly meaningful way is now... it really is.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Belle (Orchid Lady) December 21, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Glen Ellen, thanks for the link, if I exclude all of the "blaming the left" stuff, all the points are valid regarding the morality of America today. Thank you for sharing.
Glenn Ellen Smith December 21, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Hi Belle - I just want to make a very important distinction regarding the AR15 that you say will fire 30 rounds per second. I hate to tell you but that is not possible as any semiautomatic weapon requires a finger pull for every bullet shot. If it is capable of firing in "bursts" by just holding the trigger back, it is not a semiautomatic weapon and is highly illegal to own. And about "assault weapon" being a made up word, it is the term used to describe any of various AUTOMATIC military firearms using an intermediate cartridge and is frequently conflated with assault rifle (a firearm with FULL-AUTOMATIC capability). The term 'assault weapon' has no consistent or specific definition. It's only purpose is to promote fear and horror for the listener. So, if we describe these firearms by their real types and call them semiautomatic pistols or rifles, they would not have the stigma of ASSAULT on them. This, in no way, means their ability to do harm is diminished but we would be talking in proper semantics.
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 22, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Glen, I will need to confer with my sister about the AR15, as I haven't been out with them (family) lately. It is completely legal and registered, so I need to take you're word as to the terminology regarding "semiautomatic". My daughter said she emptied the clip "faster" then everybody who went that day, and hit all but 4 of her 20 targets. My point still stands however, the assault rifles are just that and it's not made up. It is the civilian model of the M16. For someone to say assault weapon, is to cover any civilian model of military weaponry, without discrimination to weather it is a gun or something else (which I don't think we have something else's). Point I am making is this... I'm not stupid enough to be confused by the ridiculous arguments being made by the NRA. They are the ones confusing the public and the terminology, in an attempt to scare gun owners in to believing that they are going to be forced to rely on bolt action (single shot) rifles to protect their homes, if an assault rifle ban is enacted. Are the same misuses of terminology be used on the other side? Absolutely! So main point of all points is this...assault rifles are made to kill people, banning them won't ban you're semiautomatic Block or other hand gun. Mental health care access and gun control loopholes need to be addressed before anything gets banned, IMHO. BTW-Im imbibing tonight, so I hope that makes sense to others. >big cheesy smile< Merry Christmas.
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 22, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Glock , my tablet changes my words!
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 22, 2012 at 05:36 AM
Glen Ellen, hold the horses! My wine soaked brain didn't' absorb your comment and why you said, as well as it has my Merlot. This tablet has a problem with me, and sometimes as I delete a misspelled word it will delete half of the sentence, and if I don't edit carefully before I submit, or even correct after, I don't notice what its done. I never meant to say "shots fired per second" it was supposed to be "per minute" and the next sentence was supposed to start with "secondly" but I decided to delete the sentence, and somehow we got (because of my lack of attention, and electronic know how) ended up with a edit mishap. The AR15 because of its ability to Cary many bullets in the clip can fire as many as a person can rattle of to empty the clip. My family so far average about (according to my daughter, she gives more details than my son) 30 rounds per minute. I will stop here, because I'm not going to edit this (I want to squash this tablet right now) and go back to my wine. I hope that helped? =)
Glenn Ellen Smith December 22, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Gee, Belle, I'm glad you said "without discrimination to weather (sic) it is a gun or something else". Anything can be an assault weapon. Smother a person with a pillow - bingo "feather filled assault weapon". I know that may sound flippant, but realistically anything that does bodily harm can be called an assault weapon. Whether the ban covers assault weapons, which is a determination in the eye of the beholder, or includes more types, I am against any ban of any type of firearm except those already prohibited by federal law, i.e. bombs, grenades, etc. But I do agree with you 100% on this statement "Mental health care access and gun control loopholes need to be addressed before anything gets banned," Do you partake in these firing range activities? :~)
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 22, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I know its whether silly but for some reason my tablet likes to change words, especially if I miss a letter, or delete one. I have never been to an actual shooting range, though my husband and I are planning on doing it for his birthday. We have private property out in the country where we have get together, and target shooting at a burm. I go, but haven't fired a weapon in a while. The last one I fired was a hand gun and a rifle. I don't know what kind they were, they were a cousins. I don't own any gun, because I have never fully trusted my bad temper.
Kevin December 23, 2012 at 08:40 PM
And under the standing rules in effect at the time, that police officer stood around waiting for backup. We now know that the correct response is to engage the shooters immediately, they usually either give up or kill themselves...
Kevin December 23, 2012 at 08:58 PM
LOL. I think you meant to say "30 rounds per MINUTE". (Though the manufacturers recommendations are for no more that 12 to 15 rounds per minute. Otherwise they are subject to jamming which is what happened in Aurora...)
Kevin December 23, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I have no idea what you are trying to say. Semi automatic rifles are the same whether you want to call them "assault weapons" or "deer rifles". The fire one bullet every time you pull the trigger. They have a varying number of bullets stored in magazines which may or may not be removable. Hope this helps....
Kevin December 23, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Glad everyone agrees that mental illness is the issue that needs to be addressed first and foremost. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/22/connecticut-killings-reopen-debate-on-mental-illness/
Kevin December 23, 2012 at 09:09 PM
What is never addressed in any of the discussions, is the fact that Adam Lanza could have killed just as many people, in the same amount of time, using nothing but a couple of revolvers and a pump shotgun. The problem is not semi automatic rifles nor high capacity magazines...
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Kevin, you know as well as I do that's nonsense. Needing to stop, and change the clip buys a couple of seconds at least. Needing to reload after every ten shots buys even more time. Not much but enough that one of 'armed teachers' you support could have had a chance to dispatch the guy. And for heavens sake, stop saying his name please. Secondly, we as a society glorify weapons, violence, military violence (Video games) violent exciting movies showing these military assault rifles and bad guys with fully automatic machine guns too! My point being that this problem we have with youth violence needs to be addressed with a multipronged approach, parent need to think about their individual children an limit what they see, law makers need to relax and take time to address this with facts not emotion, people can help by selling their guns to only licensed dealers, dealers can take advantage of classes offered by the National Sharp Shooters Assn, on how to carefully vet a customer by demeanor, body language etc. All of these are simple things that have potential make a difference. But sitting on our hand saying "that won't work" doesn't have the potential to do anything!
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" December 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Anyone calling it a Clip is not a gun owner.
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 24, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Nope I have a bad temper and don't want a gun in my house! Second, I shoot just fine and don't need to own a gun RK. I come from a military family who all hunt and are avid gun enthusiasts. I don't need to call it by it's proper name to make a valid point, your just trying to change the subject because you can't make a point of your own. BTW I beat you at targets any day.
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 24, 2012 at 12:37 AM
*I'd* beat you...stupid tablet!
Joanne Gifford December 24, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I know that is the narrative framework that the NRA is putting out there, Kevin, but that isn't what is described to have happened via the text-based narrative that can be found via that link.
Joanne Gifford December 24, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I dunno, Kevin... the medical examiner reported that all of the victims in this case had been shot more than once, and some had been shot as many as eleven times. I think that may have made the particular methodology by which he carried out this massacre especially deadly. It is noteworthy, too, in light of your particular comments here, that Australia -- when it enacted its assault weapons ban -- banned "pump shotguns," too.
Joanne Gifford December 24, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Sounds like you have a love/hate relationship with that tablet of yours, Belle. ;)
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 24, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Kevin- yes my tablet (and the wine I was drinking the other night made some of sentences not make sense. No, the NRA is trying scare gun owners by telling them IF there was an assault rifle ban, the everyone would be forced to rely on bolt action single shot, reload, single shot, reload type rifles which is not true. Why don't you try addressing some of the points I've made about changing certain laws instead of bugging me with what you perceive to be my misunderstanding of what an assault rifle does. Number 3.... The AR15 (don't know what type, I wasn't there) emptied the 30 rounds just fine. Most likely because its new and well oiled? Don't know, I don't own a gun, just enjoy shooting targets. I hand a feeling, knowing my girl, she carefully and rhythmically pulled on the trigger. She can be a bit OCD sometimes. MERRY CHRISTMAS Kevin!
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 24, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Joanne, yes I do! Lol. I have one with my slow computer too! I have been trying to get used to this dumb thing, I think I just need to turn off the auto-correct, but sadly it my husbands toy, and he can spell without it! Don't tell anyone I said that. =) Have a wonderfully Christmas with your loved ones!
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 24, 2012 at 02:57 AM
He CAN'T spell without it.....ughhhh.
Belle (Orchid Lady) December 24, 2012 at 03:00 AM
*wonderful* Christmas! OK, I give up, all this talking about guns and this stupid tablet not playing nice, is making we want to shoot it! LOL example of why I don't own a gun. ;)
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" December 27, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Scott as you and I know when a section reaches a 169 comments. It is bound to degenerate.
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" December 27, 2012 at 04:30 PM
News Flash Democrats to go for guns http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/assault-weapons
Scott Yeager December 27, 2012 at 04:47 PM
You mean another assault weapons ban like we had in this country before? If you need anything more than a shotgun for home "defense", there really isn't much to say.
Christian Kallen December 27, 2012 at 05:55 PM
With some regret I've taken down the comment that violated TOS, and the several that followed pertaining to it.
Unfiltered Steve Simoneau December 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Why would you regret removing a comment that used profanity to make a point? Lack of profanity is one of the features of Patch that many of us hold in high regard. The topic of this article is very emotional and stirs passion within all of us, so it is not necessary to convince the readers with profanity or graphic descriptions.
Jeanine Calvert December 27, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Take 2! Ok, My sentiments are the same - our chance for change is slipping away. If you are going to do a large amount of damage with a gun in a short period of time these semi-automatic, high round capacity drums are what you are going to use. This isn't about the 2nd amendment, this is about public safety. There has got to be a line somewhere on what constitutes appropriate weapons for self defense. At the VERY LEAST these weapons should be stored at a local facility or shooting range where they are checked out and checked back in with a week's notice. No one needs an arsenal of more weapons than you could possibly ever use in a single self-defense incident. I had mentioned that we need to be reminded of what that classroom looked like upon walking in, because it takes being personally affected to make the greatest efforts towards change. As a CNN article stated, Newton should be our Emmett Till moment - something so brutal and grotesque that we cannot turn away from it - so haunting that to do nothing is to do injustice to those victims, their families, and their communities.
Glenn Ellen Smith December 30, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I would like to know where you are getting all of your "information"? Did any media broadcast or written coverage indicate that a drum magazine was used? And yes, it is about the 2nd Amendment. Now, your position is to control how many weapons a person may own and how and where they must be stored. How much more intrusive will you get, short of having the "government" take all of the guns out of the hands of responsible gun owners. Then it WILL become a public safety issue. Our safety from our own government. "Those who trade liberty for security have neither." ~ John Adams "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not."~Thomas Jefferson This problem still goes back to our society and its lack of morality. Regardless of religion, the 10 Commandments are valuable rules by which to live. And yet, a large portion of our society ignore them. Divorce, abortion, abuse of those who cannot protect themselves,out of wedlock birth rates are signs that we don't care about each other and place no value on human life.


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