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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How many Americans is a gun in the hand worth?

opinion@dailylobo.com

Before discussions become heated and this column becomes a political battle, I want to say I’m not against Second Amendment rights. This column is not to advocate the taking of our weapons or of the breaching of our American rights. I am not for the loss of any of our rights.

This needs to be said because in my last piece, all that was noticed was one word: “right.” This time I will leave no ability for speculation about what I think is a right. That being said, this column seeks to state a point, define a perspective and to create some common ground between those who want guns removed and those who want guns available.

According to Slate.com, between December 14 — the day of the murders in Newtown, Conn. at Sandy Hook Elementary School — and June 18, a total of 5,190 people were killed by guns in our country. This number increases every single day.

The Huffington Post counted 30 deaths on Christmas Day 2012, 41 deaths on New Year’s Eve 2012, and 54 people were killed New Year’s Day 2013. All of these were caused by gunshot wounds.

The death of a 2-year-old who discovered his father’s revolver is included in this tally, as well as a 20-year-old who was shot on the street after walking his sister home. These young people with years of life ahead of them now have no future.

As the great writer Isaac Asimov said, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Incompetence defines the mental state of many gun-wielding killers. James Holmes hid for years what his representatives define as mental illness, until he shot up a theater full of innocent people at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. And then there’s Adam Lanza, who shot and killed 20 children and six teachers who protected them.

The Sandy Hook shooting sent our nation into frenzy. We sought action to protect ourselves and our children, and, yes, there were many people and parties drastic enough to insist that we no longer make guns accessible to the public.

But it needs to be said, remembered and repeated three times a day if necessary: Not every person who owns a gun is a violent, terrible killer.

I will give you the simplest analogy I can think of to represent why I think gun control is necessary, but without being as drastic as coming into your home and ripping the gun from your hand.

When a child in first grade hits another child with a toy in the classroom, the attacking child is reprimanded. However, when another child in the same class hits a fellow classmate with a toy briefly after the first student did so, the whole class receives new rules. Perhaps they have to earn the trust to play with the toys again, or maybe the toys are taken out of the classroom for the time being.

Did the whole class attack each other with pool noodles and baby dolls? No, but because two children acted out, the teacher takes measures to ensure an incident does not happen again.

Who should be allowed to take our guns? No one. But what can we do as a people to protect life? We get so consumed in other issues — who should be allowed to marry, abortion, the cruelty of poverty and illness in poor nations, this jobless nation and our recession.

What about the right to life?

And no, this is not about womb-life. This is about people who are already alive, breathing, flourishing and thriving, only to be murdered by another human being or in an accident because one or more parties had no business possessing or fooling with a gun.

On December 15, David Draiman, lead singer of the band Disturbed, posted on Facebook about Sandy Hook, saying, “I’m a gun owner, have been for years. I believe in the 2nd Amendment. But I would give them all up if it meant saving just one child’s life.”

My conclusion is meant to be dissatisfying since this issue has not been resolved. As a nation, as individuals, we need to personally go out and create realistic solutions.

But this doesn’t mean guns should be given up.

No, I hope this quote will inspire us to stand behind laws that respect our rights under the Second Amendment. I hope we will seek unity in our nation and that as responsible adults we will find it in ourselves to know when we can help fix these issues, and also to step back and realize when what we’re doing is harmful.