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 aninsidelook@aol.com and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

5 comments:

Debrn said...

Very well said! I couldn't agree more! Thank you for voicing that so well!

Porter said...

"There are automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the hands of people who should never have them." I'm sure there are, but what does that have to do with taking away my rights? If a criminal breaks into a gun store and steals firearms to use in a crime, that means that I, a law abiding citizen, somehow should be penalized because of it?

"Second amendment fanatics need to understand and admit that the framers of the Constitution never imagined guns shooting hundreds of rounds in seconds." Ridiculous. The framers understood that citizens needed a way to protect themselves not only from criminals, but from their own government. They did not intend for citizens only to own firearms for "sporting purposes", like a plugged shotgun used for hunting dove with only 3 shells, they intended for the citizens to own the same weapons that the government used. You wouldn't expect someone to try and defend themselves from a criminal or tyranny, with a black powder rifle, would you?

"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." No, actually, we have NEVER tried arming our teachers. Instead of trying to hide her children in cupboards and closets, what if Victoria Soto had simply returned fire and killed the shooter, ending the massacre instantly? For the naysayers who think that such an event could never occur, google the Pearl River shooting where a principal retrieved a .45 semi-automatic pistol from his car to stop a shooter who entered his school. A teacher who didn't even have a firearm on their person, but had to go get one from their car, was able to stop a massacre. A much more effective and quicker answer than simply hiding and waiting for the police to show up.

"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."
How does arming a couple of teachers equate to an "armed camp"? When police officers are present on a campus, does that automatically turn it into "martial law". Quit being dramatic.

"But you also have to accept the undeniable fact that guns themselves play a major role." How do guns, themselves, play a major role? Did the gun whisper in his ear to go and shoot those children? Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured over 800 more instantly, did we blame the fertilizer or rental van that he used? I think not.

Bill Gouveia said...

Yeah, that's an awful penalty you have to pay- no assault weapons so little kids can live. Give me a break.

These are the weak political arguments gun advocates have used for years. The above post illustrates perfectly why we need to toughen laws. Fighting the government? What a joke. Just feeding a macho image at the expense of violence.

Porter said...

"Yeah, that's an awful penalty you have to pay- no assault weapons so little kids can live. Give me a break."

Oh, me owning "assault rifles" kills kids? Well let me go destroy them all right now so no more little kids will get killed. Get real. Well if we're taking that mentality, why do we have sports cars? Nobody needs a car that will go faster than the speed limit, except for emergency services, so lets do away with sports cars. I'll go scrap my S2000 right now. I bet that will save a lot of people's lives. Or motorcycles, you're basically riding on top of an engine, completely open to the elements, without any protection other than a helmet (if you even wear one). Lets outlaw motorcycles, that will save a few thousand more lives. How many people get stabbed a year? But those are "old" tired arguments...

Here's another one, what makes a firearm an "assault rifle"? It can take hi-capacity magazines? Hate to break it to you, but that's the vast majority of "sporting" guns as well. So we just ban the hi-capacity magazines instead of getting rid of all of the guns. But why??? It's just as easy and fast to swap out a 10 round magazine as it is a 30. It takes two seconds, literally. I guess we'll just get rid of all of them and go back to flint locks.

"Fighting the government? What a joke. Just feeding a macho image at the expense of violence."
Because who, in this day and age, would ever need to fight their own government... Watch international news much? But we're so much more modern than the Egyptians, Syrians, or Libyans you might say, we would never have to fight OUR government. Well sure, let's just bank on that hope, because we're so much better than everyone else...

Besides, that's only one of many reasons. Ask people in New Orleans who had to defend themselves during Katrina whether or not they actually needed their weapons and hi-capacity magazines. I'm sure they probably could've survived with just baseball bats and knives right? Or maybe just 3 bullets instead of 20 or 30?

Bill Gouveia said...

Was your sports car designed for the purpose of killing people? What a dumb comparison. Anything to justify being able to keep your toys. Sorry, your "right to bear arms" and especially automatic weapons doesn't override the rights of kids to be safe in schools or the rest of us to be as assured as is possible that nuts don't have access to these weapons.

Folks like you who want to make this a "freedom" issue crack me up. Katrina? Really? We should keep assault weapoins in case of hurricanes? And fighting the government - this isn't some third world or middle eastern country here, despite efforts by some to make it that way. Our goal should be to avoid guns, not increase them. If you are a hunter and you need to fire 30 rounds almost immediately, then you probably suck at hunting.

This is the attitude we have to overcome. It is the perspective that has titled far too many. Freedom doesn't come from a gun, it comes from people willing to live it as well as defend it. I'm not against people having guns - just the type of guns designed to kill a lot of people in a short time. And you have no good excuse for having them.