“The suspect was in possession of a clip with more than 20 rounds, a federal official said, that would have been illegal under an assault rifle ban that expired in 2004.” – New York Times, July 20, 2012
I’m going to do it. I’m going to once again jump into the fray because I told my husband on the phone today I didn’t want to. “I’m just one voice among millions and I’m tired,” I said. We’re all tired. Not “I need to take a nap” tired, but weary – of the pain, the sadness, the inevitability. When the husband told me this morning about the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, it wasn’t shock I felt; more like nausea. More like I’m somehow responsible because I haven’t made my voice loud enough. Clearly none of us has.
Assault weapons – guns that involve high capacity magazines – allowing a shooter to fire shot after shot after shot within seconds MUST BE BANNED. I don’t want to hear the bullshit – crazy persons intent on killing others will find a way regardless of gun laws, the argument goes. That’s true. But do numbers mean nothing? Seventy-one people were shot in a movie theatre last night, lickety-split, pow-pow-pow. Twelve of those victims are dead. James Holmes MIGHT have obtained a semi-automatic weapon illegally if he really wanted to or needed to, but the point is HE DIDN’T HAVE TO. His guns were purchased fair and square, and capable of wiping out a large group of people in seconds, which is exactly what he did. Why? We don’t know and will never understand, regardless of what he tells us. What we do know? Guns. Yeah, we know guns.
“The National Rifle Association has successfully turned us into a bunch of cowards for how we feel about guns, at the expense of nine-year-old Christina Green. Had Jared Loughner not been able to get that gun so easily, he might have had to use a knife. Or perhaps a simple revolver with six bullets, instead of the thirty-one rounds Loughner was able to fire off in a matter of seconds.” – Daily Cup of Jo, January 2011
There were children killed last night, too. The police haven’t released all of the names of the victims, but Alex Sullivan died on his birthday. He was twenty-seven. It was as random an event as attending high school (Columbine), college (Virginia Tech), or shopping at the mall (Omaha, Salt Lake). In other words, don’t say “I don’t go to midnight screenings”, or “I’d never take my baby with me to that movie.” Maybe that’s true. Maybe you’re the type instead who’s thrilled to have a lovely next-door-neighbor invite your nine-year-old daughter to join her at the supermarket to listen to your local congresswoman on a Saturday afternoon (Tucson).
The more guns that exist in our world, the worse off we are. This isn’t a partisan issue. I don’t believe the average Republican wants more guns on the street any more than I do. Democrats are as much to blame for their cowardice in shrinking like violets in the face of the NRA’s influence and money. Until our voices are louder than theirs, they win, assault weapons continue to be legal, and it’s only a matter of time before the next mass shooting occurs. How does that make you feel? That the bullies who insist on the freedom to buy almost any gun, almost anywhere, with almost no questions asked are winning this argument over and over and over again?
It makes me feel sick.
Just because you’re one voice among millions doesn’t mean you should stay silent. The assault weapons debate shouldn’t even be a debate. Speak up. Write to your senator AND your congressional representative.
Read these articles:
What Happened to the Ban on Assault Weapons? New York Times, 2009, by Jimmy Carter
When will American wake up to gun violence? CNN.com, 7/20/2012, by John J. Donohue
One More Massacre, The New Yorker, 7/20/2012, by Adam Gopnik
Colorado movie massacre part of the gun culture script, Orlando Sentinel, 7/20/2012, Darryl E. Owens
The NRA has America living under the gun, Salon, 7/20/2012, by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship