What is the magic number? Not the 31 people who died in the immediate aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton shootings. Certainly not the 26 people, including 20 children, who were killed at Sandy Hook. Definitely not the 17 victims at Stoneman Douglas High School.
And not the 27 who perished at the Baptist church in Sutherland Springs. If the 53 who were executed at an Orlando nightclub for being gay or the 59 who were gunned down in Las Vegas for being there was not enough to reach the magic number, than what is? I know there is one. But how many more times will we wring our hands and offer up prayers before we outlaw automatic rifles?
People throw out red herrings to divert attention away from the immediate cause of mass killings. We will hear talk again about background checks, better mental health care, closer tracking of domestic terrorists. These are the types of things than an overwhelming majority of people should be able to agree on.
- Letter: The Second Amendment isn't about hunting
- Letter: The almighty firearm is more important than human lives
But more of us need to come out of hiding from behind these words and concepts to do the difficult and controversial job of reducing the number of bullets a gunman with a beef can discharge before being subdued.
And we need to quit cowering behind the Second Amendment. It is not some sort of sacred text to bow down to. Its abiding principles need to be applied to today's realities.
"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." These 26 words guarantee us the right to defend ourselves.
Few rational people would argue that we shouldn't be able to protect our individual liberty, by being able to use guns for self-defense against criminals, or that we shouldn't be able to manage wildlife populations, and put food on the table, by hunting.
But every rational person should be enraged that automatic weapons have not been banned. Just as there are limits to freedom of speech, there need to be common sense limits to the right to bear arms.
My mode of transportation can't be a tank, and I can't use a grenade launcher to get rid of all those pesky rabbits that eat more of my garden harvest than I do. These are ludicrous examples? Of course. But not much more asinine than saying I don't want to regulate automatic weapons because I don't want to lose my rights to defend myself or hunt.
Crazed men who stage gun fights at nightclubs and concerts, centers of worship and shopping centers —and especially schools— are going to win until we the people win the gun fights in Congress and Capitol Hill with live-saving measures. We need to counter the gunman's anger with righteous indignation.
Our current shotgun approach of dealing with the gunman needs to focus equally on the gun and the man.
Any serious discussions of mass shooting that does not include gun control dishonors the memory of all of those who have been massacred. The NRA is not the problem. We are.
With all the weapons already out there, things are not going to change overnight. If we could afford a Cash for Clunkers program to help bail out the auto industry, we can do some type of weapons buyback program to accelerate the process of reducing the number and severity of mass shootings.
The rest of the world is not shielded from the types of violence we experience in the U.S. Fifty-one people died in the New Zealand mosque attacks. But by a vote of 119 to one, Parliament passed tighter gun regulations within weeks of the attacks on the two mosques. The U.S., however, is unique in the number of attacks and deaths at the hands of men clutching automatic weapons.
I am confident there is a magic number out there. But how many more innocent people will die before we start reversing the every-upward trend?
Our current silence is deafening.