The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has reignited an issue that has been hotly debated in the US for many years. It is the issue of how to impose meaningful regulations on ownership of the millions of firearms circulating in America without completely undoing the Second Amendment to the Constitution and the premise for which it was ratified.
Most Americans will agree that our Constitution is one of the most sacred and treasured documents in our possession. It is the foundation of our laws and the basis for our freedom. It was written by those who understood the need for a balance between the needs of the government and the rights of the people. This is the reason the Bill of Rights was written. Within it are our safeguards against the prospect of a rogue government taking over and subjugating our people to tyranny and enslavement.
The framers of the Constitution wisely included the means for citizens to defend themselves in the event that such a thing was ever attempted. Thus came the Second Amendment, giving private citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Since then, this has been the cornerstone and rallying cry for every proponent of gun rights.
However, just as with many other things in the world that were created for noble purposes, it appears our beloved Second Amendment could be beginning to have its principle warped. The big question today is, who is doing the most damage to the purpose it was intended for? Is it the gun-rights proponents or the gun-control activists?
Gun-rights proponents say that American citizens have the right to protect their property and their person from any threat that may present itself. They also believe that every law-abiding citizen should have the right to purchase and own a firearm if they so desire. Also among those who subscribe to this belief are citizens who feel that if only the government has guns, it would be tantamount to living in a police state. They also correctly point out that it is not the weapon that commits these heinous acts, it is the person who wields it. Some of these Americans already believe that we are heading toward a time when gun ownership for private citizens will be outlawed.
While many of these views seem to be consistent with the apparent purpose of the Second Amendment, it brings up perhaps some of the most important questions of all—where does the Second Amendment end and public safety begin? Does the Second Amendment allow for the ownership of high-powered, high-capacity military-grade weapons? Does it allow for any type of ammunition, regardless of caliber or its capacity to injure or kill, to be available to the general public? Who decides which citizens are responsible enough to own these types of weapons and how would this be enforced?
Gun-control proponents, however, hold a much different view of the landscape than that of the gun-rights people. Many in favor of gun control believe guns should be completely outlawed. Others say that specific weapons and ammunition should be outlawed. The gun-control camp points out some equally convincing reasons to support their stance, one of which is the undeniable and unarguable fact that some of the most horrible and deadly losses of human life are not caused by natural disasters or accidents but by mass shootings. Besides the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terror in the US that produced mass casualties, there are no other acts of domestic terror that have collectively caused more deaths in America than mass shootings.
As a journalist I understand the need for detachment when writing stories. However, this time I am speaking simply as a father and an American. As an American I realize the importance of preserving our Constitution and the rights provided within it. But as a father I realize that there is a responsibility to protect our people, especially the most vulnerable ones of all—our children. I am still haunted by the looks on the faces of the children who survived the terrible ordeal, some of whom I am fairly certain may have directly witnessed the horrible event.
I think about the parents like me who have lost their most precious treasures in the world. I can feel their pain and anguish as well. I think about the families of the adults whose lives were taken, simply because they were going about their life's work. I think about the horrible emotional scars that have been inflicted upon all those involved in this tragedy.
And what of the surviving children? These who have been exposed to a level of violence most of us have never seen and hopefully never will. There are those who are asking the question of why this had to happen, who are trying to struggle and cope with the unspeakable violence that has been visited upon the most innocent ones of us all.
As I write this, my heart aches for those who have lost their loved ones to this senseless act. I, like many people right now, am also struggling to understand the rhyme or reason to why such evil exists in this world today.
Just as in the past when I was faced with something that defied my worldly logic, I seek comfort in the words of the Bible. When I am overcome with pain and outrage, as I am now, the Bible says, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers and do not be envious of the workers of iniquity [for] none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's” (Psalms 37:1, Romans 14: 7-8).
It is now very apparent that a meaningful dialogue needs to be opened among lawmakers to address this issue. It should be one free from all the encumbrances of partisanship and above all, free from the influences of lobbyists.
How long will it be before we see a repeat of Sandy Hook? How many more innocents must perish? How many more parents must lose their children and families bereft of their loved ones before our elected officials begin to make an actual effort to fix this without engaging in the normal bickering and posturing?