I will not use names, for there are far too many victims for us to remember. I won’t use dates or towns, because this crisis doesn’t answer to time and place. I refuse to use numbers and statistics, as numbers are lost on those who are numb to the demands of tragedy.
Another mass shooting has happened in our country; once again, the victims were among the most vulnerable in our society: schoolchildren. I have not yet turned on the news, but I know what I will find there. I know what will be in the paper this week. Instead of focusing on protecting others from meeting the same avoidable end, the focus will inevitably turn to how gun owners can best protect their guns.
How many more people must die to make a change? How many more children must be killed before we rethink our gun policies? How many schools, nightclubs, concerts, homes, and streets must be torn apart by bullets for us to implement more gun control?
Our country values safety. It has pursued terrorists all over the world with formidable military, economic, political, and diplomatic strength. Terrorism is a threat to our safety and our way of life, and it is laudable to combat such a danger. But the threat of terrorism from abroad pales in comparison to that of firearms held by our own citizens within our own borders. The gun crisis in this country poses a grave peril to the domestic tranquility, but it is a crisis that is entirely within our power to end. All it takes is a conscience and a spine.
In government, there is an unavoidable tension between liberty and security. Our freedom to take items on planes is limited to increase our safety on flights. Our freedom to drink alcohol is limited based on age to keep young adults safe. Many of these liberty-vs.-security tradeoffs are scrutinized and debated. Gun control is among these debates. But where guns differ from luggage or alcohol is in their value in being a freedom at all. The inherent purpose of a gun is to kill. Except for hunting and the rare, specific cases where guns are necessary for self-defense, guns have no social value. An item whose sole purpose is to kill ought not to be afforded protection as a freedom. In a country whose founding creed includes the unalienable right to life, it is deeply shameful that we have granted so much freedom to something that has caused so much death.
I understand that most people who own guns do so responsibly, and many take no offense to common-sense gun control. But there is an overwhelmingly strong gun lobby in this country, and there is a prevailing view among lawmakers that the Second Amendment is a blank-check promise allowing people to buy and sell guns like candy. If we truly want to prevent the horrors of gun violence, then we need a paradigm shift. Nowhere on this earth should something with such nefarious capacities as a gun be a right. Guns should be a privilege, and I firmly believe we need a full repeal of the Second Amendment. Rights are given at birth; privileges are earned in life. We emerge from the womb with freedom of speech and habeas corpus, but who among us would allow a baby to carry a firearm? While an obviously extreme idea, this illustrates just how incongruous and absurd the right to bear arms is among the nobility of natural rights in the Constitution.
Every time another mass shooting occurs in this country, the phrase “senseless tragedy” pops into my head. But these tragedies don’t have to be quite so senseless; the victims need not have died in vain. We could learn from what has happened and reform. We could move toward a country where guns are privileges instead of rights. We could honor the victims by preventing even one more case of gun violence, by preventing even one more parent from burying their child.
But without fail, each tragedy brings about no more change than the last. So to the gun lobby, I say this: The deeds of your mouth leave blood on your hands. To those who grovel to the gun lobby, I say this: The bend of your knee leaves blood on your hands. To those who hide in fear or apathy, I say this: The silence on your lips leaves blood on your hands. To those who think only of their own guns, I say this: The selfishness of your heart leaves blood on your hands. Eventually, we as a country must make a change lest we all have blood on our hands.