Staying in Focus: On Loss and Outrage

I have just heard the news about the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut.  Can you even imagine the panic those parents must be feeling? Or the panic of those little children as gunshots fly in a place they should be as sheltered and safe as in as their own homes?  Seeing their classmates  wounded and bleeding? A trauma that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

What is happening to this country?  And where is the outrage? Mass shootings are occurring on a weekly basis, it seems. Why are we not marching in the streets for gun control?  In the past we marched for Civil Rights, for equality for women. We protested   the Vietnam War. We march for Gay Rights.  We occupy Wall Street, Yet when it comes to guns we seem powerless  to do  anything to protect the innocent.

There is no earthly reason why anyone not engaged in combat needs an assault weapon.  I see no reason for anyone to have any kind of weapon , but if you hunt to feed your family, I can see where a rifle might be justified.  Barely.

And I’m sick of the line,”Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Try this one on for size: Guns alone may not kill people, but. people with guns in their hands kill people – a lot of people if they have assault weapons. There are obviously too many unstable people in our country not to warrant some kind of gun control.

The British, the Japanese, many other countries have gun control. They are productive, viable nations.and they have found  a way to deal with it, to protect the lives of innocent citizens,  of young children, defenseless spouses and the elderly.

And as for our founding fathers and the right to bear arms, I’m sure George Washington never envisioned citizens roaming about with AK 47s .

And I say shame to a government which sends soldiers to war in horrendous places, exposes them to horrors we can’t even imagine and then with very little assistance,brings them home and expects them to blend back into society.

I say shame to Congress for never dealing with what’s really important .  You have been dithering for months over the budget like your are playing Monopoly or something – I’ll trade you higher taxes for more bombs and an aircraft carrier.  Meanwhile our economy is tanking, our infrastructure is crumbling and people are shooting up theaters and schools. Uncertainty and fear about the future of our country, loss of jobs and homes – these all add up to send people off the deep end, and guess what? You let them buy guns.

And I say shame on the rest of us for not making this issue one of primary importance.  How many more children must die before we send more than our sympathy, before we send  a message to congress demanding gun control? Twenty six lives were taken in Connecticut today, 18 of them children. The time has come to deal with this issue. If a toy is found dangerous, it is recalled.  A faulty seat belt in a car or an airbag problem and the car is recalled.  Tobacco companies have been sued because their product causes cancer.  Guns kill people.  Why are they made in the first place?

We are at a crossroads here, at the tipping point between civilization and lawlessness.  I’m tired of waking up each day to hear about yet another murder overnight. I will be writing to my representatives, to the new congress taking over next year, and suggesting they focus on something that matters.  What was that line about Nero fiddling while Rome  burns?

As you sit down to your Christmas dinner this year, as you gather round the tree to exchange gifts, just think for a minute about the families of these children and adults who will be in mourning instead of celebration, who will have an empty seat at the table for the rest of their lives, and ask yourself,  is having a gun worth it?  Then try to imagine,just for a second, an empty chair at your dining room table. And then try to tell me that it is.

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