It’s Not Too Soon to Have a Real Debate About Guns

In the past week, I have seen 20 children and six adults lost in my very own community. One of the adults who lost her life is someone I grew up with, graduated high school with, and played basketball with as a child.

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun debate is brewing front and center. Some say it is too early or in poor taste to tackle this issue even as the funerals are being planned. But as an adult and parent, I say this is the exact time for the discussion about gun rights in our country. We saw the Columbine massacre come and go with no changes. Then the Virgina Tech slayings and the Gabby Giffords shooting. These horrible events came and went again with no debate or change because so many found it to be in poor taste.

Now, we have twenty children, six- and seven-year-old first grade students, who are dead, mere days before Christmas. Now is the time to talk about it. If we don’t finally start talking about it now, it will slip away out of the public eye once again until yet another tragedy of this magnitude happens.

I am not anti-gun. In fact, in the coming months I plan on obtaining my pistol permit right here in Connecticut. I believe there is a level of safety it would bring to myself, and my family. Will I buy a gun? Maybe. Maybe not. Will I allow my children near it or keep it inside my home? No.

The fact of the matter is, I want to know all about the safety of it.

As we talk about whether we should talk about changing our gun laws, I stand by one statement — I do not believe anyone (other than military personnel, and law enforcement) needs an assault weapon. You hunt? Oh, awesome! Find another type of rifle. You do not need the same gadgets that our men and women are using in a war zone. There simply is no reason for it, unless you are planning on going to war. Are you?

When I hear people start to scream about their Second Amendment rights it slightly enrages me. The Second Amendment states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

When this was written, there were no assault weapons. In fact, if you were shooting a gun, most of the time it took you a good minute or two to re-load the weapon and fire the next shot, not off-load a clip of 30 bullets in ten seconds, which is what these weapons are capable of doing.

When I asked the “gun experts” in my life, what exactly a weapon like the one that killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary would typically be used for (because I admit my ignorance on this topic) the answer I got was this — hunting. But I just don’t get why in hunting you would need something so extreme.

I just don’t get it.

I am not hating on gun owners or gun rights activists. I fully believe the Second Amendment should continue to stand, and I think Americans should continue to be able to own guns.

I just think there needs to be a serious change in the kind of guns we own and operate. Because there is no place for assault weapons in the hands of any citizens.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

  • Judi

    I too believe something has to be done about assult weapons, that is neither here nor there. My question is, if you do buy gun after your training etc., you said it will not be kept in your house, how is that protecting you and your family? The bad guy/gal will not wait for you to go and get your weapon! If you are not prepared to use your weapon, DO NOT own one!

  • Okay, here’s the thing that is driving me nuts with this. I am not a fan of guns. My husband is. He runs safety classes. He owns guns. They are locked up away from the ammo in our home. CT gun laws STOPPED Adam Lanza from buying a gun just days before this. He couldn’t own a gun in the state of CT. He stole a gun from a law abiding citizen. So how would gun control prevent that from happening?

    We can only speculate why she would own it. But it’s said she was an avid gun collector. Maybe she just liked it, maybe she liked to hunt. It’s a gun with great stopping power according to my husband which might be good to have to hunt deer. Why one needs a 30 round magazine is beyond me though. But then again ammo can be purchased right in Walmart. He could have purchased stuff online, hence his destroying the computers. We don’t know if his mother purchased the ammo or he did. He clearly had a plan and he clearly had something mentally wrong with him. And mental illness in this country is just as concerning as the ease of some states in purchasing guns.

    But please remember CT has the 5th lowest per capita gun related deaths in the nation. Is there room for improvement? Yes there is. But this incident can be blamed on the mental health care in this country just as much as it is on gun laws. But please remember CT laws DID STOP him from owning a gun. He refused a background check and the waiting period required here.

    Now color me confused, but why would you get a pistol permit and then not own a gun? And where in the world would you keep one if not in your house?

  • Elaine

    To Monica:

    How could gun control have prevented this?1. Gun laws should be national– as you point out, he could not get a gun in CT, but elsewhere the laws are loose, unenforced,2. Ammuniton, of the type he used should be illegal. 3. Purchase of the types of guns his mother owned should be illegal everywhere. She was only “law-abiding” because the laws are bad.

    You point out that CT has lower gun deaths– making the point, though you perhaps didn’t intend it, that gun laws can help.

    Sure, mental health should be provided much more comprehensively than it is. But that is not going to happen in our budget-cutting, government-hating, tax-cutting world. Besides, the science of psychiatric care is not up to the task (and never will be) of identifying those who are dangerous versus those who are just ill.

    Sure, it’s not just about gun control. But we don’t disparage driving laws because they don’t work perfectly.

    As Gail Collins (NY Times) wrote recently: there are crazy people all over the world but ours is the only country that gives them the fire power to play God.

    Thanks to Danielle for raising the issue. Discussion is good. .

    • Elaine,
      The point is that the laws here did work in the sense that he couldn’t get a gun. In this case that worked. It prevented the gun from getting into the wrong hands. If he couldn’t get his hands on an assault weapon, then about the only different outcome might have been less children would have been killed. It didn’t happen as fast as Danielle says. A semi automatic which this was does not spray dozens of shots in 10 seconds. That being said an assault weapon is not ever a home defense weapon my husband would recommend since it can go through walls. I’m not defending the assault weapons I am saying that more needs to be looked at than JUST the gun laws. As you say we can’t ignore the faults in the gun laws we also cannot ignore the faults in the laws for getting someone committed. This was a man with no priors who clearly had been troubled though for some time. He had to be proven to be a danger to himself or others to be committed. So his first act which would have warranted a danger to himself or others apparently was shooting and killing 20 children and 7 adults before turning a gun on himself. It should not get to that point. It should not be so difficult for families to get mental health services for their children. They shouldn’t have to go to extremes like having their child arrested or giving up custody to the state of their child to get them into the system and get them the help that they need. Please do not misunderstand, I agree that assault weapons are not necessary, but I also know the laws in CT and for her to legally own it means that she had to have purchased it prior to 1993. And received a certificate of possession from the CT state police prior to July 1994. So because the government can’t take these weapons away from people who already own them legally they are still going to be owned and there is still going to be the risk of them being stolen. That is the point here. The law is in place in CT and it still happened. It’s great that this is being talked about and that lawmakers are more willing to consider this in all states or on a federal level, but that’s not going to take the assault weapons out of the hands of those who currently own them. We absolutely need more than just gun control. It can’t be an either or thing because it’s clear that in this case gun control alone did not prevent this from happening.

      • Elaine

        Monica– You are more knowlegeable about gun laws than I am that’s for sure! And yes, it can’t just be about gun laws. But the difference between our country and every other developed country in the world is the quantity of guns. A horrifying stat I just saw: We have 5% of the world’s population, and 50 % of the guns. Rounding them up will not be likely– but limiting the ammunition shows promise, right?

        We seem to be in a sickening arms race. The more violence we have, the less safe people feel, the more guns they want, and on and on. The falacy here is that guns do not make you safe. Qutie the contrarty: you are (something like) 43 times more likely to be hurt or killed with a gun if you have one in your home than if you don’t. The truth of that could not be made plainer than the fact of Judy Lanza being blown away with her own arsenal..

        I don’t see mental health services contributing much, for many reasons. It shoudl be more available, but I will not hold my breath.Psychoses typically blossom acutely when people are in their young 20’s to 30. At that time, they may already have withdrawn from social contacts and from scrutiny. And most of the gun deaths (apart from the mass shootings) are committed by ordinary, not psychotic, people. 32 people die PER DAY from guns.

        Anyway, I do hope some action will be taken, and taken soon–an assault weapons ban,and high capacity clips, among other things.Otherwise I really do not want to hear about how shocked everyone is the next time there is a massacre.

        Take care Monica– nice discussing with you!

  • Jenn

    I agree that there is no reason whatsoever for anyone other than military/law enforcement to have assault weapons. There is just absolutely NO reason whatsoever for somene to have these types of weapons.
    I also agree that our mental health system needs to be overhauled. Adam Lanza’s mom was in the process of trying to get her son committed to a mental institution yet because he was an adult, his mom had to go thru the courts and that takes time. Unfortunetly, it took too much time. The thing that makes me angry and that I just do not understand at all is why did she even allow him to touch these guns? Its obvious she knew how unstable he was, so WHY would you teach him how to use deadly assault weapons?

    I’m not against guns, I think everyone has the right to own one if they want one and IF they can be responsible! It takes a matter of minutes to be approved for a gun and I think that needs to change. Guns don’t kill people, irresponsible people with guns kill people.

    Just 2 days ago here in my state, a 3 year old boy was killed from a gun shot to the head because he found a loaded gun in his house, and the thing is his dad is a police officer! WTF? Guns aren’t freakin toys, they don’t belong anywhere but locked up where NO one but the person with the key can get to it.
    Something has to be done to ensure that our kids will be safe in school, I don’t know what the answer is to that other than something HAS to change and it has to change NOW before something like this happens again.

  • The only reason I say it’s too soon is because right now it’s far too easy to discount someone’s opinion as being fueled by the emotions. Now that I think about it, it’s not that it’s too soon to have the discussion, I feel that it’s important to continue the conversation and keep it going once things are calm.

  • “I believe there is a level of safety it would bring to myself, and my family.”

    No. Hell NO. More guns dont equal more safety, they equal MORE DEATHS.

    Please do not buy in to the terrible fearful terrorizing mania. Guns do nothing but kill people.

    Ask Mrs Lanza if having guns at home keeps your family safe.

    What a crock. Wake up America.

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