So said Yitzak Rabin in 1993 when trying to frame a peace with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. After the horrific deaths of twenty first graders and six of the teachers who bravely defended their students, there isn’t a better principal on which to found a discussion of solutions to the gun violence that uniquely plagues our country.
I don’t have any big solutions. I wish I did. But President Obama was right to say we can no longer sit by and do nothing. The place to begin is with an honest discussion, all stakeholders represented, all stakeholders heard out, and all stakeholders listening with open hearts and minds.
A lot has been said in the media about what could or should or can’t or must not be done, and I suspect I’m not the only person who, listening to all the comment, feels overwhelmed. But we must not be discouraged, we must not do nothing. We must think and listen and then speak, to each other and to our elected representatives.
No matter what we do as a nation, there will always be murders, and some of them will be mass murders. But rejecting any but a perfect solution leaves us where we are now: at the mercy of an escalating madness. There are those who say there’s no point in doing anything because the bad guys will always be able to get guns. Perhaps. But we, as a nation, can make it more difficult to get them, and at least prevent some deaths.
There are those who say it’s impossible to anticipate what crazy people may do, impossible to discover a crazy person before his plotting turns into action, so don’t bother to do anything. Maybe, but we can, as a nation, do a much better job on mental health care if we have the will to make that a priority. And we must make that a priority. That, too, might make some difference.
We already have certain gun control measures in place. We have a law that requires dealers at sporting goods stores, Walmart, etc. to do a background check before selling a firearm to anyone. But at gun shows or on the internet no checks are required. Where’s the logic in that? The technology exists to make background checks on all purchasers possible. If we need background checks for a gun purchase at Walmart (and I think we do) then we need them for every gun purchase. We can do that.
Why can’t the average citizen get a machine gun or a bazooka or a howitzer? In the wrong hands, such hardware could produce terrible mayhem. The mayhem wreaked on Newtown, Connecticut’s children was as terrible as it was because the shooter had a rifle based very closely on the Army’s M-16. It isn’t fully automatic, but it is capable of firing one round per second and comes with clips that can hold thirty bullets. It was designed to do maximum soft-tissue damage, to kill people as quickly and efficiently as possible. That makes sense for a weapon of war, but has no place in civilian life. Was the slaughter of twenty little boys and girls not terrible enough to inspire a resumption of the assault weapon ban? Was the slaughter not terrible enough to inspire a ban on magazines that hold no more than six bullets? No more than ten?
Can’t we come together, right and left, liberal and conservative, manufacturer and consumer and take action that may at least prevent some of the carnage? Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook Elementary. Haven’t we had enough of blood and tears?