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April 24, 2015

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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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  1. Thank you Mr. Greenspun - it is easy to understand why the Las Vegas Sun won the Pulitizer Prize.

  2. Very well put, Mr. Greenspun!

    This is an emotional issue because emotions are very closely linked to the senseless gun deaths of so many people. There are emotions on each side that are inevitable on both sides; love, sorrow, rage, fear, and the list goes on. We have to recognize and deal with the emotional aspects related to gun violence.

  3. Mr. Greenspun:

    Good article and I agree and support most of what you say. BUT, guns are not snakes that bite people. Demonizing and impugning law-abiding Americans who are pro-guns, as this President did, is not the way to reduce gun violence.


  4. As our country crosses yet another crossroad, will lawmakers have the courage and the commonsense needed to make the decisions that Mr. Greenspun suggests?

    As a citizen, mother, teacher, and gun owner, I have had to deal with mental health crisises on many levels, both in family and within my profession, that over nearly a half century, I have witnessed the deterioration of our country's mental health system and support of it, that I tend to side on gun ownership because of what I see, my right to protect myself, especially when our infrastructure fails. We all know it does at times.

    We all like balance. Most prepared folks want to be just as ready and armed as those "out there".

    Clearly, the tragedies our country has seen, has been committed by mentally crazed, disillusioned opportunitists in vulnerable public spaces.

    First action should be to deal with mental health. Second action is to deal with securing both public and private spaces. Third, after the above two have been demonstrated effective, is to tweak gun laws. Afterall, the underlying problem is: mental health!!!

    Lawmakers also need to get their acts together and insure that they no longer ply any increases in the national debt, which is likened to throwing dirt on our nation and its children, burying us all. Lawmakers need to do their job representing the People.

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. Our children have to live in THIS world, not the world you'd like this to be. Parents need to protect THEIR babes during their formative childhood but also need to gradually include hard reality starting with measured doses but realizing that parents cannot control things forever.

  6. WE must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the law breaker. It's time to restore the precept that each individual is accountable for his actions....

  7. Interesting talking points. To be a card carrying liberal elite requires one to stop thinking and let the White House think for you.

    Mr Greenspun yearns for the killing of the children to stop. Yes, always gut the Constitution in order to protect the children. Freedom is not worth the effort.

    What about the children lost to Mr Greenspuns favorite program: Social Welfare?? He supports the death of 1000's of children trap in the endless cycle of welfare and food stamps.

    The more people on welfare, the fewer people allowed to have a free thought. Therefore, endanger the system that protects his wealth from others who could otherwise have an opportunity at building there own.

    That kind of slow, painful death is OK in Mr greenspun's world.

  8. "It is your choice what you choose to read: the Bible or the Constitution."
    Shalom Mr Greenspun,
    Jesus tells us in Luke 22:36
    Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
    Therefore it is important that we have a gun for protection.My Bible also say's Exodus 21:22-23

    22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

    23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life

    Jeremiah 1:5

    5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
    So I must ask how we can be so upset with the deaths of 20 young children when we have Murdered 50 million children since 1973 Roe vs Wade, and Mr Obama supports putting a live child in a back room to die that has survived a botched abortion.
    I also find it strange that in 1993 Janet Reno is direct violation of Posse Comitatus Act murdered 20 children in Waco TX. where was the outrage then for these 20 innocent children?
    As far as the Constitution what part of "shall not be infringed." is not clear. God Bless

  9. "I do not believe in taking away the Right of a citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home".

    Ronald Reagan, Feb 6, 1989
    "True" on Snopes.

  10. Summary: On 17 January 1989, 24-year-old Patrick Purdy returned to the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, set his car afire with a gasoline-filled beer bottle, then walked to the school playground with a (legally bought) version of an AK-47 assault rifle sprayed the area with an estimated 106 rounds in the span of three minutes, killing five children and wounding thirty others before fatally shooting himself in the head with a pistol.

    On 6 February 1989, former president Ronald Reagan attended a 78th birthday celebration at the University of Southern California, where he delivered a 22-minute address that touched on many topics including the recent Cleveland School massacre.

    An Associated Press account reported that:

    Reagan received extended applause when answering a question about over-the-counter military weapons, such as the AK-47 assault rifle used to gun down five Stockton schoolchildren last month.

    "I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense," he said. "But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home."

    Imagine: "Reagan received extended applause when answering a question about over-the-counter military weapons..."

    Reagan could not become a GOP Presidential candidate today because his liberal views are considered "Unconstitutional" by the majority of conservatives. Even worse, the factual and empathetic memory of the general public seems to be about 9 months in duration while the term "BC" can safely be interpreted to mean "Before Carter".

  11. Just try to find some of today's serious problems untraceable to government actions and inactions inspired by significant political campaign contributors, well meaning or not!
    History proves that corruption left unchecked permeates societies like a plague. The corruption created by our disgraceful campaign funding method has been left unchecked too long due to loss of our nation's conscience, reminder of past mistakes and early warning system, fair media.
    Never before have so few controlled so much news media nor has their control posed such flagrant conflict of interest. Our citizens today are like other world citizens who must turn to the internet to force change. Some of our Legislators last year made repeated appearances on MSNBC last year urging us to do just that and the networks small audience appeared to overwhelmingly endorse such but the other 99% of media never gave citizens opportunity to hear the words of those Legislators.