It sickens me that once again I have to update the below list of senseless, mass murders committed on a seemingly regular basis in the United States, however with the deaths of twenty-eight people, twenty of them children (including the shooter) that took place earlier today at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut cries out for me to do what little I can actually do about it, that being to put into writing my disgust with the gun culture in this nation. I can already hear gun rights advocates opining that now is not the time to discuss new, effective gun control laws. If not now, in the wake of twenty-seven innocent lives shot dead, when is the time to properly discuss gun control? In a really sad, ironic coincidence, the front page, above the fold headline of my local newspaper (The Columbus Dispatch) read “Senate votes to loosen gun limits” this morning.
Proponents of gun ownership and the firearms industry cite the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution as the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms. However, these folks all seem to leave out an extremely significant section of the actual amendment. The Second Amendment, as passed by Congress on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill Of Rights, states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” A well-regulated militia, in this day and age, to me and I think most every educated person would agree would refer to the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and the National Guard. Yet, this very important phrase of the Second Amendment is never mentioned by gun advocates.
America’s fascination with firearms has evolved into the most violent nation on Earth, with the possible exception of those countries who are presently engaged in actual warfare, which it seems would include this nation as we have been at war (or wars) for the past eleven years. We are arguably the most violent nation in our planet’s history. There is no excuse for any person to own a military assault weapon, yet our politicians who dare have the courage to speak up for sensible gun laws quiver in fear of reprisal from the National Rifle Association. Politicians who do speak out in favor of new gun control legislation face the wrath of the NRA come their next election. In just about every instance, a politician who did speak out for sensible gun laws was defeated at the polls due to the powerful influence of the gun lobby. To believe that arming every citizen is the answer to curbing gun violence, as the NRA espouses is just preposterous. Growing up during the hay-day of Westerns ruling television networks, the image I always remember is that the very first thing the town sheriff did when cowboys came into town after a long, hard cattle drive to visit the local saloons was to take away their guns. However, just the opposite is occurring throughout America as more and more cities and states are allowing the concealed carrying of firearms into drinking establishments.
The following is a partial list of mass murders that have taken place in the United States just since the horrendous tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 that resulted in the death of fifteen students:
Twelve dead in Atlanta, Georgia in 1999,
Six dead in Fort Worth, Texas in 1999,
Five dead in Wichita, Kansas in 2000,
Seven dead in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 2000,
Five dead in Queens, New York in 2000,
Ten dead in Washington, D.C. in 2002,
Six dead in Chicago, Illinois in 2003,
Six dead in Birchwood, Wisconsin in 2004,
Seven dead in Brookfield, Wisconsin in 2005,
Ten dead in Red Lake, Minnesota in 2005,
Six dead in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania in 2006,
Six dead in Seattle, Washington in 2006,
Six dead in Carnation, Washington in 2007,
Five dead in Crandon, Wisconsin in 2007,
Thirty-two dead at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007,
Nine dead in Omaha, Nebraska in 2007,
Six dead at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois in 2008,
Six dead in Alger, Washington in 2008,
Thirteen dead at Ft. Hood, Texas in 2009,
Nine dead in Geneva County, Alabama in 2009,
Ten dead in Covina, California in 2009,
Thirteen dead in Binghamton, New York in 2009,
Six dead in Santa Clara, California in 2009,
Eight dead in Carthage, North Carolina in 2009,
Eight dead in Appomattox, Virginia in 2010,
Nine dead in Hartford, Connecticut in 2010,
Eight dead in Seal Beach, California in 2011
Seven dead in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2011,
Six dead in Tucson, Arizona in 2011,
Six dead in Seattle, Washington in 2012,
Five dead in San Francisco, California in 2012,
Seven dead in Oakland, California in 2012,
Seven dead at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Oak Creek, Wisconsin,
Twelve dead in Aurora, Colorado in 2012,
Six dead in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012 and
Three dead in Portland, Oregon in 2012.
This is a staggering list of senseless murders and families shattered, and does not detail the considerable number of wounded in the carnage. What is alarming is that the percentage of Americans who believe we need stricter gun control laws is decreasing. What does it take for a nation to realize that something is desperately wrong with our culture of guns and violence? The NRA has convinced a good number of Americans that President Obama’s hidden agenda is to take away all their firearms. Yet, in the only two firearm bills signed into law by this president during his first term in office lessons current restrictions on gun control, contrary to popular opinion.
If a person wants to own a firearm, fine, join a well-regulated militia as required by the Second Amendment. We, as a country always seem to be at war, so there will always be a need for someone who aspires to shoot something. I see nothing wrong with a hunter owning a few rifles, but as a general rule, hunters do not shoot their prey with assault rifles capable of firing hundreds of rounds automatically without having to reload. For anyone to have the ability to purchase military assault weapons capable of creating the type of massacre seen in this country time and again over the past decade is asinine.
Steven H. Spring