Moderated by Tom Sabulis
Congress appears likely to tackle some form of new gun-control legislation in the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Today, a right-to-carry proponent writes in favor of arming school teachers and administrators, arguing that a gun-free zone designation did not, and could not, prevent the tragedy. On the other side, a local commentator says our country’s gun fundamentalism makes it impossible to create and police effective laws.
Commenting is open below Kelly Kennett’s column.
By Parthiv Parekh
The Arab world has jihadi fundamentalists. We, in America, have gun fundamentalists.
Steeped in their convictions, and willing to die for it, the jihadis are indifferent about the damage they are causing to the image and spirit of Islam. American gun fundamentalists are just as indifferent to the damage they are causing to the image of America and its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Only a degree of fundamentalism explains a complete breakdown in logic, perception and common sense that is evident in the mindless opposition to any checks and balances on gun sales and ownership. The failure to see the connection between easy access to guns, including assault rifles, and the prolific number of gun fatalities is a blind spot that only fanaticism can allow.
What could be simpler? It doesn’t need research, experts, data or studies to see a simple truth that guns will kill far more in an uncontrolled environment than in a well-regulated one.
And yet the cultural and recreational worship of firearms, a dubious fallback on the Second Amendment and a disproportionately strong NRA that holds society hostage to its agenda have made sane gun regulation a convoluted debate.
Following are some of the mindless slogans and disingenuous strategies used by gun fundamentalists in their attempts to cloud an otherwise straightforward issue.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. True. Similarly, hammers and drills don’t build houses, people do. Yet, we don’t see crews coming to a construction site without their tools. Absurd, right? But that’s what gun fanatics want us to believe about guns. The fact is, violence and mental illness are a part of our society, and guns are the enablers for those afflicted with either.
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Another version of this clever-sounding but superficial sound byte is the claim that we don’t need new laws, because we can’t or won’t enforce existing ones. By that argument, if we can’t enforce speeding on our highways, should we simply remove all speed limits? And if we can’t enforce murder laws due to technicalities or a shortage of manpower or resources, should we simply make murder legal?
The NRA has done its best to prevent sane legislation from passing, then claimed that gun laws don’t work.
If gun laws aren’t working, there are two possible responses available: Fix, invest, strengthen and find ways to make them work; or, the NRA approach: Give up on regulating a lethal weapon that routinely kills a huge number of innocent people.
Columnist Thomas Sowell points out that gun ownership is higher in rural areas compared to urban ones and among whites than blacks, yet the murder rate is lower in rural areas and in white communities compared to urban areas and black communities. Does that mean communities should increase gun ownership to reduce gun deaths? Hardly. If anything, the scenarios described above only point to the fact that urban and black communities are more prone to violence than rural white ones. And so, there is more reason, not less, to strengthen the regulation and enforcement surrounding the purchase and ownership of firearms in these communities.
NRA sympathizers love to cherry-pick examples of situations where an armed civilian may have foiled the plans of an armed perpetrator and in the process even saved a life or two. But for every such incident, there are many more where the bad guys have won.
A clear indication of the fundamentalism surrounding guns is that laws that would thwart criminals and the mentally unstable, and do nothing to restrict the legal use of firearms, are robotically opposed.
Prayers and talk of healing have been abundant in response to Sandy Hook, our latest in a long line of national tragedies inflicted by guns. But there can’t be much healing or a sense of safety if we are not prepared to do something to counter the gun fundamentalism that plagues our society.
Parthiv Parekh is editor of Khabar magazine, based in Norcross. A version of this column appears in this month’s issue of the magazine.
By Kelly Kennett
The recent events in Newtown, Conn., are a stark reminder that evil exists in this world. Like other parents, grandparents and citizens, we at GeorgiaCarry.org are horrified by these senseless killings of precious children. The people of good will in this great nation do not want to sit helplessly by while events like these unfold; they want to do something. Our first instincts to take action to protect the innocent and defenseless are a reflection of the finest values of Americans.
In response to this desire to take action, we as a nation will have in the coming weeks and months a collective discussion regarding how to prevent such violence in the future. A person prepared to slaughter innocent children and take his own life is not deterred by laws. These actions instead speak to a basic lack of respect for the lives of others. A part of prevention will certainly involve an examination of our current culture and how it may permeate the world view and decision-making of those who would wreak such havoc.
At GeorgiaCarry.org, we are in favor of taking public actions that have a reasonable likelihood of making a difference, while not infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens. We believe that an armed citizenry is the best omni-present defense against acts of evil. Citizens, including teachers and school administrators, should have an opportunity to defend themselves and the children in their care against attacks. In our opinion, it is unconscionable that our present laws leave our children defenseless in school. Our schools need an armed presence prepared to resist the aggression of the violent. Part of the public discussion needs to include how, in an orderly and safe fashion, to ensure that those in schools are no longer defenseless. In the coming debate, we will offer specific proposals regarding how to make this defense a reality.
The list of laws, including gun laws, that the Newtown perpetrator broke is lengthy. Apparently unbeknownst to the shooter, the school was already a gun-free zone. Still, some have suggested that we need additional gun control laws. The details of those proposed laws vary widely but have a single consistent feature: They have no plausible chance of doing anything other than infringing upon the rights of those who pay attention to laws in the first place — that is, the law-abiding. With more than 300 million firearms in circulation in America, laws that further regulate the features of new firearms have no substantial effect on potential future active-shooter incidents. Do we really want to debate the precise number of rounds per magazine that we feel is appropriate to shoot at elementary school children? Those who propose new gun restrictions apparently want to do just that.
Finally, as we move forward, we should be ever mindful of the nature of rights. You have no right at all if its continuance depends upon the good conduct of others. Your right to speak and write freely cannot depend on what others may say. Your right to worship as you please cannot depend on what worship others find acceptable. Your right to be free from warrantless searches in your home cannot depend on whether others keep illegal things in theirs. The right to keep and bear arms is no different. We would tread a dangerous path in this country if we begin picking and choosing the rights we individually prefer to limit.
Kelly Kennett is president of the board of directors of GeorgiaCarry.org.