Monday, December 17, 2012
Today I Stop Being a Coward About Guns
This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on Monday, December 17, 2012.
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
I have been a coward. Today, I stop. Starting now, I will step up and be counted. I will make my voice heard on the most important issue of our time.
I want stronger gun control laws. I want them now. I want us to start working on them immediately, before any more innocent lives are lost. No more excuses, no more bowing to political pressure, no more wasting time and costing lives. This gun craziness must stop.
I know the guns that killed 20 beautiful children and 6 brave adults last week in Connecticut were obtained legally. I know the murderer who did this might have gotten guns no matter what the laws say. I know you can’t stop every nut-job out there who decides to kill with guns or any other weapon. I know all this. You don’t have to tell me.
But I know – and you know – there are too many guns in America. There are automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the hands of people who should never have them. And please, spare me your definitions of “automatic” weapons. Guns that shoot a whole lot of bullets in a short amount of time should not be available for sale to the public. That is a simple fact that has been ignored too long, because politically-oriented people like me have let it happen. No more. It stops now.
President Obama needs to convene a national discussion on gun control today. All leaders of congress from both parties should join him. Every governor in every state should form similar panels. Mayors, town councils, and selectmen should bring folks together for a discussion on what local laws can be enacted. And it should be done now, not a day later.
The NRA should call for national gun control laws that maintain the right of private ownership but restrict the number and firepower allowed. Second amendment fanatics need to understand and admit that the framers of the Constitution never imagined guns shooting hundreds of rounds in seconds. More guns equal more violence. That is an indisputable fact.
How do I know? Critics say gun laws today are tougher than they have ever been. If they haven’t worked so far, why should we believe stronger ones will make any difference? After all, as we are often told – “If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them”.
That’s crap. I know what hasn’t worked - doing absolutely nothing. Sitting back and letting gun advocates intimidate and bully politicians. Ignoring statistics clearly indicating a correlation between the number of guns and the level of violence. Standing by and blaming others.
I believe the second amendment as written was a good idea in the late 1700’s. But I think it should be adapted to the present. The world is a different place. People are different. Guns are different. Bullets are different. Slavery is dead, and women can vote. It is time we realized our attitudes on guns need to change too.
To those who suggest we start arming teachers and principals in an effort to make our children safe, I say you could not be more wrong. The answer is not more guns. We’ve tried that. I find it difficult to believe so many are willing to turn our schools into armed camps rather than accept reasonable and rational limits on gun ownership.
You want to partially blame the lack of morals in society today for tragedies like Connecticut? Ok, that’s fine. You want to partially blame video games and lack of parental influence? I’ll buy that. But you also have to accept the undeniable fact that guns themselves play a major role.
You can’t legislate away crazy or evil. Those things have existed since the beginning of time. All you can do is try to limit the opportunities crazy and evil people have to obtain awful weapons. And we as a people have not done a good enough job in that regard. Just because we know stronger laws won’t stop all these incidents is no reason to not try and stop at least some of them.
Today I stop being a coward. I support common-sense gun legislation, and I support the politicians who promise to make that happen.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.