Letter | ‘We’re number one’ should not describe gun deaths of America’s children

June 23, 2014 

By Terry Munson

If you don’t agree that important decisions concerning gun ownership should be based on the weight of the evidence, please don’t read the following. It could upset you, and worse, it might persuade you that your ideology is a way of avoiding thinking about a serious problem.

Are you proud to be an American? Do you hum “God Bless the USA” unconsciously? Me too. But recently, not so much. When I read that there have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook Elementary, I shook my head in disbelief. When I learned that we are the leading country in mass killings of children, my pride vanished.

My gut reaction to people walking out of their homes with semi-automatic weapons draped over their shoulders is to dial 911. But then I stop, because thanks to my governor’s delusional leadership, there’s nothing the police can legally do. The flow of innocent blood does little to stoke my patriotism.

When I recall that the most radical faction in society dictates our government’s gun policy, my stomach goes queasy and I start to worry about my grandchildren in their schools. Don’t you? If not, why not? The chant “We’re number one” was not created to describe the rate at which we murder our children. Yet it does.

When the gun lobbyists argue that if we get insane people off the streets everything will be OK, I despair at the impossibility of determining who they are in time to forestall the next tragedy. Since the deranged are distributed equally around the globe, why does no other nation share our problem? Is there a possibility that a country with more guns than citizens has too many guns? The question of whether it makes sense to allow citizens to own assault weapons that have a single purpose – killing another human being – often arises. Every thinking person I’ve ever heard address that question anguishes for America’s future.

The recent assassination of two police officers at a lunch counter in Las Vegas destroys for all time the premise that “all you need to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In a couple of seconds the good guys with the guns lay dead on the floor while the sane but radical bad guys walked away. Such rhetoric, unsupported by evidence or logic, leads us away from the solutions parents and police so desperately seek.

Once upon a time in America, compassionate Christian leaders who cared about the welfare of children and empathized with those who had lost loved ones to gun violence would have worked to stop this madness in its tracks. But now many of them on the right stand their ground in defense of the NRA. Where there is no empathy, there is no understanding. Where there is no understanding, we forgo action and solidify our status as the world’s most homicidal nation. Shame on our churches for not coming to the defense of our children. Shame on our politicians for not explaining to Wayne LaPierre that he doesn’t get to decide on behalf of America’s parents. A church or a politician that fails to provide moral leadership when children are dying is irrelevant.

So if you are packing, focus on this truth. You either favor some form of reasonable gun-control law, or you look the other way when children die in their schools, or policemen are ambushed at lunch counters. Your position on gun ownership does not instill national pride. In fact, it’s a national disgrace.

The writer lives in Pawleys Island.

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