Assault Weapons – What Do You Think?

I meant to write about sexual slavery today because my heart breaks for children whose lives are wrecked by powerful forces beyond their control.8fbfb469-b866-44ea-b3fe-579da026c39f_500

But then some alienated, heretofore non-criminal, armed with two semi-automatic handguns, strides into a classroom and kills 20 other children, whose lives are now wrecked by powerful forces beyond their control.

America, I know we are afraid of being defenseless against the criminal element. I know the right to defend ourselves and raise a militia are a part of our heritage. I know we are afraid of Constitutional amendments and a slippery slope to an outright weapons ban. But I also know there is a devastating difference between a hunting rifle and an assault rifle, a pistol and a semi-automatic handgun.

Yes, children lying dead in a Kindergarten classroom is absolutely the fault of yet another disaffected, hoodie-clad loner who’s name and psych profile will be discussed ad nauseum, but a singular focus on him skirts the issue. Listening as a panel of tv “experts” express their condolences prior to eviscerating each other for their opinions on gun control, skirts it as well.

A gaping hole exists in our law, regarding the ease with which anyone can kill dozens of people, in a public place, in a matter of  seconds.

I wish the framers of the US Constitution had defined “arms” in the second amendment, but they didn’t. Does that mean I can purchase nuclear arms and bear them? Is that my right as an American? That’s ridiculous of course because retail, purse-sized WMD don’t exist, just like assault weapons didn’t exist in 1789.

The intent of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights was to create a more perfect union. We need to get busy doing that, but as my former colleague Wallace Baine put it in a very smart blogpost called React, Reflect, Repeat:

“…we live in a culture where violent rampages against strangers, though never condoned, are now simply not beyond the pale of American daily life. We call such acts unacceptable, and then by our continuing inability to address how to stop them, we quietly accept them.”

It has to begin within our own spheres – our neighbors, our friends, and yes people on Facebook. How can we address the problem of escalating violence in our culture, and its expression through easy access to semi-automatic weapons, if we can’t even discuss it over the backyard fence? There is a fundamental lack of respect for other human beings percolating in a million tiny ways through our culture; when it expresses itself in a grand scale in our kindergarten classrooms, we act like we don’t know why.

At least 50 of my Facebook friends oppose gun legislation in any form, and may wish to call me an idiot, but the truth is, most of them really are my friends and things in Connecticut are just as grim for them as me. Is it even possible to discuss a meaningful response to this nightmare with respect and courtesy? I am asking for your thoughts.

Should assault weapons continue to be legal and accessible in the US? If so, how do we stop honor-roll students from unloading them on rooms full of children?

**Be creative and thoughtful. If you missed the memo about courtesy and insist on spewing vitriol, don’t waste your time because I moderate. Disagree with me loudly if you wish, just don’t be a jerk.