Sunday, December 16, 2012

Using Our Grief to a Purpose

Grief is indeed a part of life, but if it is not also an instrument of change, then perhaps we miss the lesson it is teaching us.

That said, while I feel that we as a nation must share our hearts and our comforting thoughts with the families of those so brutally killed in Newtown, it would perhaps dishonor the victims if we put a lid on our anger and our grief.  A far better use of these feelings would be to channel the anger into action that will help prevent such a thing from happening again.

I am not a hunter and can't even bear to deal with a mouse in the house.  I am not a marksman and stink at any eye-hand coordination computer game.  Yet I can understand that those who use guns for food and for skill-based sport--and who have proven their sense of responsibility--would want to be allowed to have those instruments for their hobby, even though I personally would not want to even touch one.  I can even see my way to understanding why people might want a gun in their home for protection (although I suspect most folks are lousy shots and, again, I wouldn't want one for all the fish in the sea.)

But multi-round ammo clips and automatic weapons are not about marksmanship or about hitting a particular topic for sport or sustenance.  They are for one thing:  killing, and killing as many targets at one time as possible, as quickly as possible.  These weapons belong only in the hands of a "well-regulated militia," meaning the military or the police who are using them presumably as a last resort to stop an onslaught invasion.

They should no more be available to the public than a tank should be available for personal use just because we also have cars.

I am not suggesting that members of the NRA (who contribute mightily to most political campaigns to make sure their cause is supported) are not likewise grieving the senseless loss of life in these shootings in Littleton, Aurora, and Newtown.  I would even like to think they grieve about the constant gun violence in Harlem or other economically-challenged neighborhoods, where the children have become so used to the idea that they will lose a friend, a cousin, a brother or sister to gun violence or the stray bullet in the crossfire that they have numbed themselves to the presence of guns.

But I am suggesting that they are more concerned about their right to buy whatever they want whenever they want and wherever they want over the rights of innocent people to live their lives without fear.  When restrictions and background checks are considered an threat to their liberties versus a protection for the good of society, then they are letting ego get in the way, reflecting the overwhelming 21st century trend of "let me get mine and the hell with everybody else."  Second amendment champions continually refuse to look at the time and the technology of the period when it was written, and in doing so, they ignore the spirit in which the amendment was intended.  They were not sanctioning a free-for-all; they were trying to establish protection for the citizenry. And now, in this 21st century, we should be protecting the citizenry first and foremost.

In these recent horrific and senseless shootings, the weapons used were bought legally (even if “borrowed” without permission).  Most times, these weapons were used by those with severe psychological disturbance—and the treatment of mental illness is yet a whole other subject to be discussed as a nation.  But the fact is that these weapons of massive and rapid attack are readily and easily available for anyone to lay their hands on.  If there is true societal insanity, this is it!

So yes, even in this time of national grief, we’d better use our anger versus letting it subside, because after years and years of letting it all pass, we have not passed any meaningful gun legislation.  If there is any sense in this senselessness, we will use our passion to revamp not only our all-too-easy access to weapons but how we as a nation deal with our anger and our own internal violence.  Let us learn at least SOMETHING from this brutal and senseless tragedy and take action to minimize the chances of it happening again tomorrow.

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