In 1791, when the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was adopted, the state of firearm technology was the flintlock musket. With proper training, a good flint, dry weather and a dose of luck, one could launch a single somewhat errant lead ball every 30 seconds or so. Today, a novice shooter, with each split-second pull of the trigger, can fire a deadly accurate bullet specifically designed to liquidate human flesh. Once the 30-magazine clip is spent, it takes about two seconds to snap on a new one.
The U.S. is now soaked in private weaponry, much of it designed for war. Our fascination with guns, and the fierce protection of the freedom to keep and bear them without meaningful regulation, mystifies the rest of the civilized world. In recent years, there has not even been any serious debate — let alone action — on the proper role of civilian firearms in this country. We have instead surrendered fully to the National Rifle Association and its bullying political muscle. If you are a responsible gun owner, consider abandoning that group to its true constituents — gun manufacturers and those who believe their assault weapons are all that stand between them and, well, their right to carry their assault weapons. Their agenda is not your agenda.
The Newtown tragedy is often described as unspeakable. But it should be spoken, be heard, and be remembered: the sudden explosion of bullets, the shrieks of panic, the cries of pain, the falling of bloodied friends and trusted adults, the gore, the horror and the instant evaporation of all things known and true. Innocent lives slaughtered, a community irretrievably shattered.
This nightmare, and those that have preceded and those that will follow, surely cannot be accepted as mere costs of freedom. We must together stand up and demand a rational, constructive response by our senators, our representative, our governor and our other leaders. As the president has said, the politics will be hard. But to again turn away from the challenge would be shameful and a profound dishonor to the precious lives lost and our hopes for a safe and just society. I believe our Founding Fathers would agree.
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