The rifle report had barely faded before the television talking heads began discussing the policy impact of the Sandy Hook shooting: Do events like these necessitate widespread gun control measures?
Like many of your readers, I am a parent who sat horrified while reading news coverage of the event. I saw pictures of children not much older than my sons forever scarred by the events of December 14.
I read of little bodies riddled with multiple gunshot wounds. I saw pictures of Vicki Soto and could not help but see my own sister, also an elementary school teacher near Vicki's age, standing valiantly against a gunman armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons.
I imagined parents returning home to Christmas presents that will never be opened by little hands and to Christmas trees filled with popsicle-stick reindeer and cottonball snowmen that will forever serve as reminders of lives ended too soon. I teared up while listening President Obama read the names of dead children, their names the same as those of my friends' children, my own children and, perhaps, yours.
While I am politically moderate on most issues, I am a true conservative when it comes to gun rights, an ardent defender of Second Amendment liberty. I have been a member of the National Rifle Association and GeorgiaCarry.Org. I have a Georgia concealed weapons license. I hunt. In short, I bristle when pundits propose weapon bans.
After last Friday, I am bristling a little less, my defensive stance moderated by a gnawing sickness that we must do something, anything, to protect ourselves. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) said her first task in the new legislative session would be to enact a new version of 1994's Federal Assault Weapons Ban, I considered the issue in a new light.
Would a weapons ban actually prevent a monster like Adam Lanza from attacking my children, yours? I don't know. In my brief research, I found few substantive studies that connected the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban with decreases in gun violence. While there were certainly fewer mass shootings during the ban's decade on the books – 1999's Columbine High School being the major exception – there seems precious little to link the decrease to the ban. As a fellow teacher is fond of saying, "Correlation does not equal causation."
Perhaps gun control laws should cast a wider net and include weapons like the Bushmaster AR-15 Lanza used which was not banned in the 1994 law and can currently be purchased at any Wal-Mart. Perhaps we need less regulation on gun carry, allowing even the teachers in our schools to carry weapons. Maybe we need armed guards or dedicated school resource officers at every school. Maybe we should allow members of our military to perform their service as a domestic security force to prevent homegrown terrorism.
Over the past few days I've heard all of these floated as possibilities; all leave more questions than answers and seem more reactionary than thoughtful. In the short term, perhaps the best we can do is agree that it is time to revisit our national, state, and local gun statutes.
It is time to reflect on our entertainment choices, including our movies, music, and video games. It is time to reconsider how we handle the mentally unstable amongst us.
In the meantime, I will be holding my own children a little closer, their innocent lives dearer to me this season of light than they have ever been before.
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