Newtown, Fatherhood, and Guns

This week an unspeakable tragedy occurred quite near the town in which I grew up.  20 children and at least 8 adults were killed by a man with a gun…with several guns actually.  This hit especially close to home in a few ways.  First, I know where the school where this occurred is.  I’ve been in Newtown.  We used to have family friends there.  It is not all that far from where I used to live.  It is also not far from my two sisters and their kids.  It’s not far from my Mom.  Add on top of that, my sister is an Elementary School teacher in Connecticut.  Imagine hearing that an Elementary School had been the site of a mass slaying by a madman?  And learning it was in Connecticut.  Horror, Panic, until I learned it was out of district.

But that horror and panic made me pause and think about some of my beliefs.  In general I have believed throughout my life that responsible people should have the right to own a gun, but they should be careful with that weapon.  I don’t’ believe in automatic weapons or anything that can kill a deer 605 times in a single shot.  Those overpowered guns are unnecessary and frightening.  Too many accidents happen in the home with guns, but I was able to reconcile that with my belief in Darwinism.  People taking themselves out because they weren’t careful?  Ok.  Sorry, your own fault.

This however is completely different. This one is the first one that hits home to me as a Father of a young child.  I recently read this article in the New Yorker and as I read it, I felt my beliefs start to shift.  The Father in me is practical.  It is looking for ways to make our world better for everyone, but notably for my son.  I don’t want my son to have to face this type of awful tragedy.

There was a time that I thought “I know people are the culprits here”, that without someone pulling the trigger…there would be no mass murder senseless killing of innocents. I thought, and debated heavily with myself, that someone could have/should have locked up the guns at Columbine so those kids couldn’t get them. I thought, and debated over and over that it was some nut in Aurora and that he would have gotten guns anyway, somehow. That the real problem is we have a few crazy people in the world and they are just going to kill people anyway.

I realize that regardless of whether or not they could have gotten their hands on guns in those cases, regardless of whether they are just isolated crazy people, that we owe it to ourselves to take whatever measure we can toward safety. If tighter gun control laws mean even a single life is saved, then shouldn’t that be enacted? There is ample evidence that in the US, more people are killed by guns per year than ANYWHERE ELSE. And that is taking into account population size to death ratio. How can that be? Do we have more nut bags than anywhere else? maybe. But if that’s true…what aren’t we doing anything about it.

The 2nd amendment to the constitution was put in place in a time when a bear could still regularly walk into your living room. Where there was no standing police force. It was a time where it was highly likely that we could be re-invaded by European powers. I tell you, all these things are HIGHLY UNLIKELY these days. What is likely is that someone with a gun is going to just decide to fire a clip into my living room, or yours, or your mom’s or someone’s who doesn’t deserve it. And even if you have your own gun sitting in your house…you’re not going to make it.

I believe it is extremely rare that a normal person actually has the time, focus, skill, bravery, to pull a gun and kill the person who is about to kill you with their gun. That’s movies. That’s fantasy. That’s what little boys try to do when they play with sticks.

Guns are a part of our culture, but how can we not further restrict them? How can we take a chance, even if infinitesimally small (and it’s not), that further restriction won’t help?

Chalk up one more for gun control. I hope you’ll at least really consider the alternative, for your children’s sake.

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