Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Year Later, Gun Fight Goes On


By Bill Gouveia


Almost one year ago today, the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut took place.  Over two dozen people – the majority young children – died in a senseless slaughter committed by a sick individual with guns that fired massive amounts of bullets in just seconds.


On that day, I promised to stop being a coward on this issue.  I wrote in this space about pledging to speak out as a citizen concerning the lack of common sense gun control in this country.  I begged our legislators on every level to take action and make sure we were doing all we could to keep guns – particularly those that fire incredible numbers of bullets quickly – out of the hands of people who clearly should not have them.


That was one year ago, and the greatest country in the world has still done nothing to make their sacrifice and that of their families truly mean something in the struggle against gun violence.  In fact, if anything, the pro-gun lobby is now stronger than ever.


I’m not anti-gun.  I don’t like them, I choose not to own them, but I respect the rights of those who do.  The problem is many of them don’t seem to respect my rights and the rights of people like the children in Newtown.


We live in a society where many places are afraid to allow the dispensing of medical marijuana, but are just fine with selling weapons at a gun show with little to no background check.  We live in a society where the biggest current political battles are repealing a law that provides healthcare to those who need it, while zealously making sure guns that can kill hundreds of people in mere seconds are available to almost anyone.


Congratulations to the NRA and its many supporters.  You have done a magnificent job both in the political arena and in the battleground of public opinion.  You understand better than anyone what it takes to be successful in passing laws or preventing them from being passed.  You have perfected the most dangerous, most difficult, and most effective weapon possible.


You have harnessed fear.


You make people afraid.  You tell them who and what they should fear.  You thrive and prosper because of this.  You feed on it, use it, manipulate it.  And you do it better than almost anyone else.


I have to grudgingly respect your political acumen.  You are always on the offensive.  You didn’t back down for a second in the face of the Newtown tragedy, or Columbine, or Aurora.  You didn’t try to ride out the storm, maintain a low profile, orpractice damage control.


You went on the attack.  You suggested teachers should carry weapons.  You said our problems stem from not having enough guns in the hands of the public, rather than having too many.  


You convinced people already distrustful of their government to trust it even less.  You told them the President of the Unites States wants to take away their guns, even though there is no evidence to support that claim.  


You told people the government was to blame for not institutionalizing more of the mentally ill, while at the same time you made it more difficult to prevent mentally unstable people from getting guns.  You knew that if you just made people afraid, if you convinced them someone was trying to take away their rights, they would support you.  And you were right – at least so far.


But my faith in the American people is as great as yours.  I believe they will eventually force the passage of reasonable laws creating standardized backgroundchecks.  I believe they will see regulating guns is different from banning them.  I believe they will recognize your politics are self-serving and destructive.


And most importantly, I believe the deaths in Newtown were not in vain.  Along with Columbine, Aurora and other tragedies, Newtown will eventually help turn the battle for logical gun control.  I believe better gun laws means safer neighborhoods and fewer dead children.


You can go on all you want about the Second Amendment and bad government.  But you can’t change the fact we are the most violent and gun-happy nation on earth, and we owe those Newtown children better than this.


You will not use my fear against me.


Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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