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Monday, Dec. 17, 2012

The Slaughter of Innocents

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If the Christmastime slaughter of 20 beautiful little children and six adults who loved them isn’t enough to move gutless politicians of both parties to pass sensible gun regulations, nothing will.

The frantic rhetoric from irrational opponents of common-sense gun laws demonstrates that even they realize that this latest horror could finally lead to the meaningful action our president supports.

The guns-for-everybody lobby and its supporters say this is no time to politicize a senseless national tragedy.

As our hearts are breaking for the children and adults slain by another mass-murdering gunman, they say it would be disrespectful to use such a terrible tragedy for political purposes.

Really? It’s hard to think of any positive outcome from the otherwise irredeemably horrific killing of happy 6- and 7-year-olds other than coming together around intelligent laws and regulations to reduce such occurrences.

Those who suddenly oppose using tragedies politically have never had any qualms about doing so with a vengeance whenever they see an opportunity to exploit heart-wrenching grief for their own purposes.

Wisconsin and many other states have laws carrying the names of dead children. Those seeking harsh, draconian laws regularly use highly emotional cases to justify extreme measures.

But after the repeated gun massacres in the past year alone, it would quickly become unwieldy to attach the names of all the murdered children to a new public safety law.

These intolerable human massacres recur so routinely in America that if we can’t talk about preventing them after one has just happened, we would never have any opportunity to act to protect our children or ourselves.

We couldn’t talk about doing anything before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre because just the previous week there’d been another deadly shooting at a mall in Portland, Ore.

Before that, in Wisconsin, there were all those women killed and wounded at a spa in Brookfield. We couldn’t say anything before that because of the mass murder at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek. Shortly before that was the Colorado movie theater massacre. And on and on.

 

Weapons of Mass Destruction

The majority of Americans are not in favor of this continuing slaughter of innocents. It’s really only a small, arrogant group of gun owners who insist they have a right to swagger into churches and public places with guns on their hips.

Despite what you may have heard, our Constitution does not prohibit laws protecting public safety. The opening words of the Second Amendment, which many gun owners worship as a false idol, specifically refer to the necessity of “a well-regulated militia,” not a totally unregulated band of killers.

The Second Amendment was written to protect such arms as muskets and blunderbusses. Those were not military-style assault rifles equipped with drum magazines capable of shooting 50 to 60 rounds of ammunition a minute.

Such weapons of mass destruction aren’t used for hunting. Even rabidly pro-hunting Wisconsin prohibits killing wild animals by the herd. Human beings deserve at least the same protection.

Neither are these weapons needed for any citizen’s self-defense. Attacks by armies of zombies are imaginary.

Such weapons have only one purpose—murdering human beings in large numbers. With ever-increasing regularity, that is exactly what they are being used for in America.

The dishonest leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA) are lying when they claim the Constitution prevents us from banning weapons of mass destruction. It doesn’t.

In fact, we already did. President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban into law in 1994. For a decade, it was illegal in this country to sell 19 types of semi-automatic, military-style guns and ammunition clips with more than 10 rounds.

The Constitution didn’t stop that law. Republicans did. When the law came up for renewal in 2004, President George W. Bush intentionally let it expire. Republican leaders controlling Congress didn’t even schedule a vote.

Republicans are the most shameless panderers to the NRA and the minority of irrational gun owners who are indifferent to the mass murder of children, but many Democrats aren’t much better.

We’ve seen enough of these tragedies to know that politicians who say we need to provide help for those with mental illness instead of doing anything about guns—when we clearly need to do both—never bother doing either.

Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker posted a commentary shortly after the latest massacre in which he placed the blame squarely where it belongs: “The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children. They have made a clear moral choice....”

Politicians can either represent the NRA or they can represent the children and the overwhelming majority of decent Americans who want meaningful action to reduce the mass destruction of innocent lives.