Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk. As in not yell at one another, take sides, dig in our heels, or any of the other things that seem to happen every time this subject comes up. Let’s be frank. We have an epidemic of violence in this country, and guns play a big part. It is not acceptable, and something needs to be done about it. The recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, demand that we look at our country’s gun lust.
I know the arguments against gun controlÑcities with strict gun laws actually have more crime, and anyway, the Second Amendment of the US Constitution gives us the “right to bear arms. ” But again, what good are those arguments doing to move us toward a more peaceful country or, for that matter, world? If you asked for my personal solution, I would answer, “Get rid of them completely. ” But I’m also a realist. I understand that will not happen. There are too many exceptionsÑ police, military, etc.Ñto make that a reality.
But surely we can do better than what we recently witnessed in Congress, when a minority of senators voted down two bipartisan bills that would have expanded background checks on firearm sales and banned some semiautomatic firearms modeled after military assault weapons. (Can someone please tell me why the average person in the community where my family livesÑor any US community for that matterÑwould need a semiautomatic firearm modeled after a military assault weapon?)
We need to do something besides drawing our line in the sand and daring other people to cross it.
Two senators tried to make that happen a couple years ago. Senators Joe Manchin (DW. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)Ñboth gun owners and defenders of Second Amendment rightsÑtried to cross those lines by proposing the amendments that were ultimately defeated. I commend them. But it didn’t work. The amendments required 60 votes to pass in the 100-member Senate. That meant that Democrats and independents in favor of the amendments, who hold 55 seats, needed support from some of their Republican counterparts to help the amendments pass. They didn’t get those five votes. Who knows why?
Tell me, members of Congress, what is so hard about working together to find a solution? Are you afraid of not getting reelected? Will you lose donations? Are you determined not to budge because something was proposed by someone outside your party? Tell me, are any of those things more important than the lives of those struck down by gun violence? Your inability to work together to find a solution certainly sends that message.
I’m also aware that guns are but one piece of a much bigger puzzle we have to figure out. The violence that is rampant in our society has numerous issues behind it, such as mental health and economic issues.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. ” Technically, that is true. But when those guns get in the hands of people with mental-health issues, people who feel hopeless, or people who are numbed to violence for a vast number of reasonsÑour media includedÑwe have a major problem. And we have tragedies here in the United States such as Columbine, Aurora, and Newtown, among others.
Until we peel back and look at those issues in light of these tragedies, many of the gun-control arguments, plans, and solutions seem weak.
Call against Arms
I could sit here and cite statements and quotes from any number of popes and religious leaders from all faiths about the need for peace. I could find quotes and documents that would be in favor of gun restrictions. I could tell you that St. Francis would probably speak out against guns. But those quotes and arguments have been tossed around ad nauseum, and they haven’t moved us forward at all.
So I will make my own plea. Please, let’s work to find a way to bridge our divide on this issue. You know my position; I’m well aware of the other sides. I don’t know what the solution is. But there has to be a way. I’m tired of turning on the TV only to see the litany of shootingsÑand overall violence. It’s an everyday crisis across the country. We can no longer turn our heads or lose interest once the news coverage ceases.
I doubt, despite my hopes, that guns will go away. But I feel that I need to say something. I feel that I need to remind people that surely there are ways we can address the issue. At the very least, let your representatives and senators know that this is an issue that is important to you, and that you will hold them accountable.
Of course, not everyone will have the same argument. Some will call for stricter gun laws; others will call for fewer. Our job is to find some middle ground. If we look hard enough, want to, and are willing to work together, I bet we can find it.