Stop the Madness
The tragic shooting spree in Colorado has once again put gun control in the center of the national debate. While I feel sad for the families affected by the tragedy, I cannot help but feel desensitized when it comes to gun violence.
While tragedies like the one that occurred in Colorado get a lot of media attention, stories like mine, one of countless examples of urban violence that happen every day get little coverage.
They say a dead man can tell no tales. I guess I am lucky, for I survived my attack. I was robbed at gunpoint in Philadelphia about five years ago. There are some who would say that if I had carried a gun I might have stopped the attacker from robbing me. But I believe a gun wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Only God can control someone’s fate.
While I am alive to comment on gun control today, unfortunately two of my relatives and one of my best friends are not here to give their testimony. On the other side, I know of many gun enthusiasts who are doing life sentences because they believed that guns were the way to settle differences.
Trying to have a civil discussion about gun control shows why America is not enthused with either presidential candidate of this year’s election. America is fatigued by two-party politics because absolutists have hijacked both parties who are hunkered down in their ideology or beholden to powerful lobbies like the NRA or the Center for Gun Control. Rather than find a palatable agreement between gun owners and the public, they refuse to even consider that we need to find some sort of solution to curb violence.
This strict adherence to ideology is also why we don’t have an energy policy, universal healthcare or tax reform: in order to protect their bottom line, a handful of billionaires and special interest groups oppose or obstruct what is best for our nation.
In the end, what seems logical, like banning assault weapons or limiting the amount of bullets a gun can fire gets turned into a partisan pissing match by absolutists.
Those who want to come to a consensus become frustrated. After all the saber rattling by extremists, another deranged killer buys an assault weapon legally and goes on a rampage. Then the NRA grabs its attorneys and blocks any reasonable reform of gun control.
What will it take for someone to say Stop the Madness? If Colorado isn’t the boiling point, what will it take for us to challenge the strict constructionist view of the Second Amendment and make laws that protect the gun-less from the gun user, even if it inconveniences a few gun owners?
The use of assault weapons is not in the spirit of self-defense; the main intention of someone using an assault weapon is to find enemy combatants and kill as many as possible.
I can make an educated assumption that when the Constitution was created, the Founding Fathers reasonably assessed that America would look differently once they passed on. They believed in a living Constitution that adapts to the times instead of a strictly interpreted Constitution that resembles nothing like the America we know today.
Whatever it was that the Founding Fathers thought they were creating, it isn’t what we have today.
I am skeptical about whether this mass shooting will be the turning point in gun control that leads to comprehensive reform. However I am optimistic because our nation has fought some powerful lobbies like tobacco, insurance and the food industry that in the past stood in the way of change to protect their interests instead of the overall welfare of our country.
I consider gun violence an epidemic on par with HIV and world poverty. The time is now to end senseless killing that could be prevented with common sense laws that allow gun owners to carry arms while at the same time ensuring that innocent people are not exposed to gunfire.