Enough is Enough!

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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: CONTROLLING FIREARMS

I have restrained myself from commenting on the Newtown tragedy until I have had some time to listen and think. And what has come into my mind in my life experiences as both police officer, sociologist and pastor is a number of thoughts and images –

  • I find myself living in a violent society – my country has been at war for over ten years; our entertainment, our films, and video games are exceedingly violent. Such an atmosphere is not a healthy one in which to live and raise our children.
  • I feel America has been bullied into thinking that somehow freedom and our way of life is somehow tied to our right to possess and carry a firearm through we really know in our hearts that the Second Amendment was constructed to permit our states to form militias – not to permit ordinary citizens to possess andcarry firearms.
  • Our mental health system has been ignored and underfunded and our legal system reluctant to detain and evaluate persons who constitute a danger to either themselves or society.
  • Gun makers and suppliers have spun out of control in manufacturing and selling weapons designed not for hunting but for military combat; e.g. the assault rifle with its high-capacity magazines and ability to be easily modified to fire fully automatic like a machine gun.
  •  In short, something in America has gone wrong – very, very wrong. (Although criminologists tell us that the numbers of mass shootings are not increasing [about 20 each year] the numbers, those killed, have increased because of both instrumentality and access.

As a police officer, I carried a gun for over thirty years, I knew that a home with a firearm was not a safe home but one that was more dangerous. The very presence of a guns is simply dangerous in a home. After my wife and I retired (both of us were police officers) we did not feel the need to carry or possess a firearm.

Now we have another tragedy on top of too many others – this time a score of elementary aged children and six adults have been murdered in a school in a quiet, bucolic city. No longer the terrible violence of inner city drug traffickers and gang members, but now it happens in hometown, so-called “safe” America.

So, I join with those of us who say, “Enough is enough!” Years ago, I gave up on the NRA when they refused to support the banning of Teflon-coated bullets designed to penetrate the body armor my officers wore on duty.

This is not an unsolvable problem. As an example, Australia took action after a mass killing in 1996 and changed their country. We can, too.

In this Sunday’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof recalled what the Australians did:

  • The government legislated a “buy-back” of 650,000 firearms.
  • They crafted tighter laws regarding licensing and safe storage of firearms.
  • While not ending gun ownership in their country, they reduced the number of firearms by one-fifth – (predominately the ones most likely to be used in mass shootings.)
  • The result? In the 18 years before the law, there were 13 mass shootings. Afterwards? Not one in the last 14 years.
  • And the murder rate with firearms dropped by more than 40 percent, and the suicide rate by firearms more than one-half.

We can also look north to Canada which now requires a 28-day waiting period to buy a handgun. They also require a very thoughtful and clever safeguard – gun buyers need to have two people vouch for them before they can purchase a firearm. (This, to me, would be very effective in preventing a lot of questionable, socially negative folks from purchasing a gun.)

Kristof also illustrates as an example what we have done as a nation to increase auto safety:

“As with guns, some auto deaths are caused by people who break laws or behave irresponsibly. But we don’t shrug and say, ‘Cars don’t kill people, drunks do.’ Instead, we have required seat belts, air bags, child seats and crash safety standards. We have introduced limited licenses for young drivers and tried to curb the use of mobile phones while driving. All this has reduced America’s traffic fatality rate per mile driven by nearly 90 percent since the 1950s. Some of you are alive today because of those auto safety regulations. And if we don’t treat guns in the same serious way, some of you and some of your children will die because of our failure.”

[To see Kristof’s entire article, CLICK HERE]

We are a smart nation. We can change, we can do better – improve. Just look at how we have reduced tobacco consumption and increased auto safety and made improvements in a number of other areas of public health. We can do the same by crafting smart laws and practices regarding firearms in America. Enough is enough. Let’s do it and do it now.

 

For more…

* Hear conservative commentator Morning Joe’s comments CLICK HERE.

* Read the data concerning gun violence in America from Harvard professor David Hemenway CLICK HERE.

7 Comments

  1. Chief, With all due respect we’re not anymore violent today than we’ve ever been. I’m confident you watched the old Westerns, cartoons, John Wayne films etc. They may not have been as graphic as films/TV is today, but just as violent.

    To be sure, video games are a new phenomenon, and they are violent and consistently appear in the lives of the killers. And yet we continue to buy them, many an adult plays them and most – the vast majority – do not end up killing others. I’m guessing that’s not the game then.

    The 2nd amendment is an individual right, period. The Supreme Court found that to be the case, and the Founding Fathers thought so as well. Who makes up the militia but for individual citizens, thus the individual right to own, and carry a firearm.

    That you and your wife no longer see the need to carry is admirable, not sure how smart it is, but it’s certainly admirable. It’s also an individual decision you two made and that is how it should be. That you two made that decision does not, should not and cannot suggest that me and mine should make the same decisions. That is not a decision you or anyone else can make for me or anyone else.

    Kristoff is a liberal which, in my view, makes most of what he says questionable as to his ultimate agenda. That said, what we’ve done with respect to vehicles, has made them much more expensive and less safe (in terms of the body) and has done pretty much nothing regarding drunk driving. My guess would be that if you took out the fatality rate due to drunk drivers, it’s not decreased, rather increased.

    Australia is not US. Any comparison is questionable at best. So too with Canada. When will we as Americans understand that we are unique as a people and as a country and return to acting like who we are, who God made us to be.

    You are right, however with respect to the mental health system generally. As a friend notes, “we don’t do a good job of culling our nuts” he’s right, we don’t. I would also note that many of our problems stem from the de-institutionalization movement of the seventies, championed by . . . yup the left (e.g. Kristoff). They’re also the ones who choose to do little or nothing for those that come to them for care. They typically want to medicate which many have suggested makes matters worse. They don’t want to institutionalize because that’s cruel and unusual. And the Newtown murders weren’t cruel and unusual?

    In the end, it’s people, evil people that are the problem. Not the guns or the manufacturers or the legislators or even the mental health professionals. It’s those that have allowed evil to penetrate their heart. My guess is the Newtown murderer hasn’t been in church for many years. We need to be focusing on that, admittedly a much more difficult problem to assess and address, but the real problem here. Doing anything else won’t stop what we saw last week, not one bit.

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  2. The police should have been backing pro-gun candidates since many cops are pro-gun, NRA members. I guarantee if those deaths in Newtown were police officers, the cops would change their attitudes in 24 hours. We should have been adopting European/Asian countries’ laws on gun ownership with the police having the power to come into your house to see that you are complying with the law.

    I wonder where we got this idea of selling modern military weapons (US and/or foreign) weapons to American civilians? We should be limiting the selling of firearms to six shot revolvers, shotguns, and bolt action hunting rifles. I don’t recall where a home owner took out a bunch of burglars/gang members with an automatic weapon

    Mr. Rush, the Second Amendment is about having a well regulated militia, period. It is not about people being able to collect a huge arsenal of guns and enough ammo to hold off an entire police force (particularly in a small town). let alone have enough firepower to wipe out a bunch of people.

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  3. Mr. Rush, too many conservatives who I have met have many guns and when you listen to them, they want to use those guns to wipe out liberals, progressives, socialists, communists, labor unions. I bet you that given the license to wipe those groups without fear of going to prison, those conservatives would do just that. Of course, if you put these conservatives into a gang infested neighborhood, you wonder how long they would last against gang members who are combat experience and would not hesitate to kill in cold blood.

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  4. Many years ago, Bill Moyers did a 4 part series on violence particularly gun violence. One white kid stated that he knows many rich kids who buy and sell guns. Funny how rich kids view guns as a commodity just like their fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers until it backfires on them (no pun intended) and it affects them and/or their neighbors and friends. If this shooting happen in a gated community, you would be asking yourself “Why am I living in a gated community when I don’t feel safe from my own neighbors.”

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  5. I’m no cop, just your average dummy. But a few things come to mind.

    -I don’t think our founding fathers predicted tanks and drones when they drafted the second amendment.

    -God is not confined within the walls of a church, and as we all know, evil has hidden there as well. Bringing people back to the church isn’t going to eradicate evil.

    -I don’t believe for a second that people who identify as conservative are so inherently evil they would murder progressives/liberals if it weren’t for the threat of imprisonment. Although I’m sure that theory makes those who identify as progressive or liberal feel as if their halo is extra sparkly.

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    1. Germans are not inherently evil and/or rmilitaristic nor are all liberals drug taking hippies; however, they get paint with those words.

      It is no theory. It is a fact that if conservatives did not have to worry about prison or the death penalty, they would wipe out gays, minorities, progressive, liberals, etc., in a heart beat considering the fact that many of them are law enforcement officers who are sworen to uphold the law and deal with the population in an impartial manner. I have heard and seen those law enforcement personnel make those death remarks. Some years ago, they send a long retired Southern police officer to prison because he had murder some minorities or civil right workers about 50 years ago but got away with it for years.

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  6. Thank you for your thoughtful post David. Most social problems (mass murder) have multiple causes. Unfortunately we are all too quick to have knee-jerk reactions and want to blame the opposite of whatever ideological world we believe in for any number of horrors. Religious folks want to blame what they perceive as a decline in religious beliefs and practices (though there is no statistical support for such a conclusion), conservatives want to blame liberals. Hey, as I recall the deinstitutionalization movement was fostered not just by liberals but also by cost-cutting, small government conservatives such as Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California. Reagan closed most of the state hospitals–and he did this to save tax payer money, not due to pressure from liberals. Liberals want to blame gun-toting conservatives. Pacifists blame video games. Anti-feminists want to blame women. Feminists want to blame anti-feminists! And so forth. We live in a world that is complex and multidimensional. As David points out, violence has many causes.Effective problem solving requires honest data and an honest non-ideological perspective. We need to move beyond the kind of easy labeling of others that so often emerges following a tragedy.

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