Over three-quarters of the firearms used to carry out mass shootings in the United States since 1982 were obtained legally. How on Earth can there not be a national discussion on gun control?
And to those gun advocates who say that tragedy ought not to be politicized, that we need to wait a respectful amount of time before debating such contentious issues as gun control (but who don’t object when such violence is attributed to the absence of God from public schools), I will point out that there have so far been sixteen mass shootings in the United States since the start of 2012, resulting in a combined death toll of eighty-eight.
There is literally not enough space between shootings to be respectful.
Finally, yesterday, on the same day as the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, a similar attack took place at a primary school in Henan province, China. Thankfully, although twenty-two children and one adult were injured, nobody died.
Instead of a gun, the attacker carried a knife.
With every problem, there are the symptoms and there is the disease.
In the wake of yet another mass shooting in the United States today — this one leaving twenty-seven dead at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school — the disease, clearly, is the culture of violence that pervades the country, and I do not blame anyone for wanting to tackle this disease directly. But when the symptoms manifest themselves in the form of twenty dead children, a call to manage the symptoms through gun control is more than just understandable; it is urgently necessary.
Without doubt, these frequent shootings represent an evil deeper than the mere existence of guns. The country must undergo some major soul searching. But firearms enable the destruction of life with an efficiency that is unconscionable and all-too-effortless. While it may be true that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” we must always remember to end this cliche with the common revision that, far too often, “people with guns kill people.” Any object or tool or implement with such undeniable risks — regardless of its occasional usefulness — needs to be subject to strict public oversight and regulation.
I do not know if today’s massacre in particular could have been averted through gun control, but surely at least some of the mass shootings that riddle the country are preventable. Their unyielding prevalence, in addition to being tragic, is becoming ridiculous. There is no more appropriate time than now, after today’s horrific events, to start a serious national conversation about gun control in America.
My thoughts go out to the victims and their families.