Dear Mr. President,
I have been a dedicated supporter of you and your vision for this country for the past 6 years. I believe we all must work together to create a more harmonious, compassionate and equal society. I have been, unfortunately, greatly disappointed in your lack of clear and assertive policy when it comes to gun control. In the wake of yet another horrific, mind-numbing tragedy in this country, one where 20 children were gunned down by a man with an assault rifle, I want to know – exactly – how your office is going to intervene to attempt to eradicate the escalating and fatal violence that plagues this nation. How many more mass shootings must we endure before lawmakers step in and demand change?
This is not an attack on the 2nd Amendment nor does in undermine a citizen’s rights. No one is saying Americans cannot bear arms; that would be an impossible proposal in this country. However, we can and MUST reinstate the assault weapons ban, make it illegal for persons to make and sell bullets that can pierce body armor, limit the amount of ammunition available for “sporting” guns. Why does anyone need an AK47, a magazine clip with 30 rounds? If we are to look at this situation honestly, we can categorize these as weapons of mass destruction. We have evidence of this, all too much evidence, which can be found in the bodies left at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and New Town. If we can invade other nations on the grounds that they “possess weapons of mass destruction” why can’t we begin to frame this discussion on stricture gun control at home in a similar light? These weapons of mass destruction abound in our society, are available to anyone with a pulse, some cash or credit and/or access to the Internet. Of course this problem is about more than guns.
It is also about education, community, security and how to address the needs of those struggling with mental health issues, but those are all very broad and sweeping categories. Those kinds of “ground up” efforts take time to put into place and even more time to see whether or not they are effective. To work with established educational systems and to begin to build a healthier, “saner”, more balanced and equal society may take years. Mr. Obama, we do not have years. We do not have any more time to waste because we must begin a frank and open discussion on why America is such a violent country.
There is much frustration, hopelessness and anger in our country, and if we look at the persons perpetrating these senseless acts of violence, we usually find a young gunman – not an older person and usually not a female. Sometimes there is mental illness involved but more often than not we find a troubled, disconnected and lonely figure. There is something inherently wrong with a culture where more and more youth feel isolated, ignored, misunderstood and so very, very angry. So many persons live now in a virtual world, one where they can strap on an AK47 and go hunting enemies or steal a car and drive down a road, bashing women or the elderly for extra points. We have created this society; we have perpetuated this culture. Violence sells. Yet, these kinds of problems are now so deeply ingrained in our world that to address the society that has been indoctrinated into the age of the image (because what a person looks like and what she owns appears to determine value) and the age of technology will take vast, prolonged efforts by educators, communities, and families. To get at the root of the problem is the best way to solve it, and positive change can occur, of course. We all must try to reach those who feel alienated and marginalized. But this course takes time and in the interim, those persons who feel such anger and confusion still have readily accessible weapons.
It seems logical that the first and most expedient course of action is to address the laws surrounding the buying and owning of weapons. This is something that can be done now and by limiting a person’s access to guns and ammunition – especially the kinds that can cause mass destruction – we can begin to curtail some of this violence. No, we won’t be addressing its root(s) which is a much larger, longer and deeper effort because in order to truly staunch the flow of blood in America we must look honestly at the underlying issues. But by reinstating the assault weapons ban, by making it illegal to sell or purchase “cop killer” bullets, to mandate a waiting period and background check on all sales of guns, we can at least put into place laws to start positive change.
These common-sense measures do not infringe on an American’s 2nd Amendment rights. No one is saying a law-abiding citizen cannot own a gun for sport or recreation. What it does say is that we, as a nation, are demanding that Congress take all necessary steps to begin to make it harder for someone to obtain weapons that have the capacity to kill in large numbers. The NRA and other gun-owning supporters want to frame this “debate” as a threat to Americans “right to bear arms” but this is not the case. What most Americans want is to end the kind of mindless, mass violence that has escalated in our country, so much so that we have endured over 30 school shootings since Columbine. It is now almost commonplace to turn on the news and hear of another rampage in a mall or theater… More bodies down; more weapons of mass destruction used. The old adage goes: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. I disagree. Without an assault weapon, the shooter at New Town might have still attacked the school, but I doubt he would have been able to take so many innocent lives with him in his fury.
People now live in fear. It has become a part of our existence, as prevalent as the act of breathing. Images of violence and death dominate our media and stories like the one out of New Town have become the norm. How much more has to happen before our government, my government, does something? If we look to other countries that have experienced such atrocities, such as Scotland and England, we can see that swift and strong actions were taken by the governments in the wake of mass shootings. Severe regulations around gun ownership were put into place and now these countries enjoy a much, much lower rate of gun-related violence. Americans wish to see this kind of civility, this kind of safety, within their own communities.
The time for action is now. We cannot afford to wait. We cannot endure another national tragedy, not when something so simple can be done to begin the process of eliminating these kinds of grotesque events. Of course it is just a start and much needs to be done to decrease the culture of violence that exists in America. But a ban on assault weapons, which are truly weapons of mass destruction, a law forbidding the sale or purchase of dangerous munitions, a thorough and mandatory waiting period and background check of all persons who want to buy a gun – regardless of where this gun is purchased – seem like sensible, rational and very doable actions that might be just the impetus we need to redirect our nation and change the atmosphere of fear to one where there is a glimmer of hope for our future.