Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2015

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WHERE I STAND:

Our children shouldn’t have to live in a savage world

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Let’s not get emotional about our guns. After all, they are just a bunch of shiny objects that shoot bullets and other projectiles with only one ultimate purpose — killing.

Instead, let’s get emotional about our children. They also have a purpose: to grow up and have happy, productive lives. To do that, they have to live.

There is a reason so many Americans have jumped across the line that has been drawn against reasonable restrictions advanced by those who believe the Second Amendment is just one part of our Constitution.

And that reason has a name: Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The citizens of the United States have long endured the occasional but inevitable savagery that is unleashed on our fellow Americans from time to time. Our ability to rationalize isolated incidents of “people gone mad” has overcome whatever survival instincts we may feel as we go to a shopping mall, movie theater or university campus.

Not any more. At least not right now. Bullet-riddled bodies of 6-year-old children – our 6-year-old children — have a way of moving even the most hard-hearted, callous and uncaring among us. Now, we’re in a position of having a conversation about why such tragedies are tolerated in the land of the free and home of the brave.

And, yes, the conversation is often riddled with emotional outbursts by both those who don’t want any more dead babies and those who believe that there is a better way than restricting the kind and quality of gun ownership.

That is the way we do things in this country. Our Founding Fathers were very careful to set up a form of representative government that allowed for both the emotional response to that which is wrong as well as the cool, deliberative process that allows for emotion to have its place alongside reason and responsibility. It is called lawmaking and, at best, it ain’t pretty.

We also have a president who is elected to represent all of the people and to act on our behalf to both follow the law and advance our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is pretty simple, after all.

So, what’s the problem in the current debate about what we must do, if anything, to prevent as best we can the bad and crazy people from slaughtering the good ones?

The problem is that for too long the inertia — a hallmark of American democracy — has continually defeated whatever ideas have been advanced to further the cause of society acting in a civilized way. And during that time, those who advocate for unfettered access to guns — all manner of them — have had their way with both their arguments and their financial ability to persuade.

But money and loud voices aren’t enough anymore. Why? Because the 20 children and six people who died are screaming loudly: Enough is enough.

We have an obligation and a responsibility to the next generation. We hear everyday — because it is true — that we are shirking that responsibility by saddling our kids and grandkids with mountains of debt that will make their lives less comfortable than our own. We are told daily that doing this is both wrong and immoral. I agree.

So, if burying our children under mountains of debt is wrong, immoral and un-American, can it be any less immoral to bury them for real under mountains of dirt just because we have our collective heads buried deeply in the sands of a time that no longer exists?

Of course not. The Second Amendment, for whatever purpose our Founding Fathers saw fit, cannot ever be allowed to be the shield behind which cowards, crazy people and others just hell-bent on finding government conspiracies can hide. Not when our children are dying at their desks.

Yes, there are many this past week who are screaming bloody murder that President Barrack Obama would use children to make his point that it is time to act, to do something to break the inertia that allows mass murders to continue. The news channels are full of people crying out that emotions have no part in a national debate about gun safety, gun control or whatever other term you want to use for the effort to provide sanity to policies that put the United States at or near the top of every list for gun violence.

I don’t know if what President Obama has proposed regarding assault weapons, ammunition clips, gun show loop holes, registration of weapons, mental health and school security is enough or too much to help. What I do know is that it is a holistic approach that could very well work. At least to reduce the great majority of massacres that have become a part of our everyday lives — and deaths.

And I also know that those who answer the question, “Why shouldn’t we enact some reasonable laws to try to stop this madness?” with the simplistic “Because it is our right,” are doing nothing to advance our single, most compelling obligation as Americans and as human beings.

It is your choice what you choose to read: the Bible or the Constitution. In either case it is absolutely clear that we have the obligation to protect and defend the lives of those who come after us.

In fact, lest there be any confusion, read them both. Then let’s get to the doing of our jobs.

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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