I’m usually a happy person, optimistic about life. My glass is always half-full. Not this week. Not after Monday.
There have been too many innocent deaths from deranged, disturbed and dangerous men armed with military-style weapons.
We all know and can recite the names of the killing fields —
Columbine High School, 1999
Virginia Tech, 2007
Fort Hood, Texas, 2009
A Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado, 2012
A kindergarten classroom in Newtown, Connecticut, 2012
A church in Charleston, South Carolina, 2015
The Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, 2015
Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, 2016
These are just a few on a long list.
And now the massacre in Las Vegas. Fifty-nine people died and 517 injured after Stephen Paddock, a lone madman, opened fire on 22,000 concertgoers enjoying music by Jason Aldean. It was the deadliest single day mass shooting in the modern history of the United States. Please, Mr. Guinness, omit THAT statistic from your book of “most” and “biggest” and “greatest.”
These shooters obtained their guns legally. Some passed background checks, others passed because of bureaucratic error, still others used someone else to get their weaponry. But there’s something wrong when AR-15 and AK-47-type rifles can be bought legally and acquired easily because of the laxity and loopholes in our gun laws.
I am not anti gun. I live in a state where hunting is a revered, if not noble, sport. My cousin is a gunsmith. My son-in-law owns several hunting rifles. My husband has a 22. A good friend in Kentucky packs a revolver in her purse. I have no problem with any of that.
But I agree with columnist Thomas Friedman, who wrote: “No honest and decent American lawmaker would look at Las Vegas … and say, ‘I think the smartest and most prudent thing to do for our kids is to just do nothing.’”
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan were asked whether "bump stocks” should be legal. (Bump-fire stocks are attached to the receiver of the rifle; the stock uses the recoil effect to bounce the rifle off the shooter’s shoulder and “bump” the trigger back into the trigger finger, thereby firing the weapon repeatedly.)
Initially, McConnell said it was not an appropriate time to be discussing legislation. Yesterday, Ryan said he believed it was time to “look into this.” Amazingly, even the NRA seemed to agree.
Steve Kurtz, columnist and Fox News producer, added, “This is not to say the calls for legislation we’re hearing are foolish. Gun control advocates make serious points that can’t be discounted. But any good arguments they have should be just as good a week from now when passions have at least somewhat cooled. The saying goes, ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure.’ That’s just as true for legislation. So yes, let’s do something. But let’s also take our time.”
Columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “Seeking a modest precaution after such a monstrous bloodletting will no doubt strike gun control advocates as a hopelessly insufficient goal. But a cause that has been losing ground for 20 years can’t be picky in the victories that it seeks. Las Vegas seems to offer a clear case for a particular kind of gun regulation.”
When someone isn’t safe in a kindergarten classroom, a church prayer meeting or a country music festival, there’s something very wrong with our world. I believe we should expand background checks, rethink permit requirements, ban military-type weapons, and definitely spend more on mental health.
It may not eradicate the problem but it’s a start. And it’s time.