I feel today that our government, our country has failed us and failed our kids and didn’t keep us safe.
- Melissa Falkowski
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
We’re again sleepwalking through the same old scenario that follows every mass killing of innocent people by a madman with a gun – a gun that shouldn’t even be legally sold outside of the military and some police tactical teams.
Sen. Ted Cruz stepped forward immediately, accusing “Democrats” of “politicizing” the deaths by demanding new gun registration and control legislation. As always, Cruz read aloud the National Rifle Association’s prepared script: “They immediately start calling that we’ve got to take away the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. That’s not the right answer.”
Well, no, actually, nobody is trying to take away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, because law-abiding citizens don’t need semi-automatic rifles with high volume magazines that can easily and legally be turned into machine guns. I’m a law-abiding citizen (well, okay, there’s that stretch of I-76 between Brush and Sterling, but let’s talk about that another time) and I own four guns, three of which actually work. None is a semi-automatic.
I did carry a semi-automatic rifle for a time, back in the mid-1970s. It was issued to me by the U.S. Army and a drill sergeant explained its use to me this way:
As a soldier it may well be my job one day to occupy the ground I stand on, about four square feet, in order that people in different uniforms can’t occupy that ground.
“This may surprise you,” the drill sergeant said, “but they will try to kill you in order to stand on your four square feet of ground. Your job is to kill as many of them as possible before they kill you, and that is why the Army has issued you the M-16 A1 Individual Infantry Weapon. In other words, you make sure his momma weeps so yours don’t!”
It was pretty clear to me what that M-16 was for and what I was supposed to do with it. In the 40 years and 3 months since I was discharged from the Army, as a law-abiding citizen, I have never had a need to hold a weapon that would do what that M-16 would have done and I don’t know of any law-abiding citizen who has or ever will.
So no, banning “assault style” weapons or even all semi-automatic firearms will not materially harm anyone’s Second Amendment right, especially seeing as how there hasn’t been a need for a “well-ordered militia” since before the War to End Slavery.
As for politicizing the deaths of innocents, Cruz’ Republicans had no problem politicizing the deaths of the 2,996 people killed on 9/11. The Republican Bush Administration asked for and got, with no resistance whatsoever, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the creation of the United States Department of Homeland Security. And that doesn’t include the most political act of all – plunging the nation into two unpopular wars, one of which we’re still fighting (and dying in) 16 years later.
When Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people, including 19 children, in Oklahoma City in 1995, the federal government had no problem politicizing those deaths by passing the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
But neither of those attacks involved guns, and that seems to be the sacred sticking point. When Islamic terrorists use airplanes to kill Americans, we law-abiding citizens see our freedom to board airplanes curtailed like crazy, to the point of having our private bodies searched by machines.
But when Islamic terrorists kill Americans using military assault weapons, suddenly we have to look elsewhere for a solution; more often, we just look away and pretend that “guns don’t kill people.”
The truth of the matter is, guns do kill people because that’s what they’re designed to do. Yes, yes, knives can be used to kill people, too, but not 17 people in a matter of minutes, and not 53 people from a quarter-mile away in a matter of seconds.
And yes, bombs can kill a lot of people all at once, which is why owning bomb-making materials is illegal.
In fact, all kinds of laws have been enacted because things people thought were safe turned out to be dangerous. Automobiles, life-saving drugs, communications devices, even children’s toys have been banned or severely regulated because they might accidentally harm someone or be used for nefarious purposes.
But guns? The one thing that is designed and manufactured for the sole purpose of killing people, the one, single product of American industry that exists exclusively to end life, is sold in mass quantities with almost no federal regulatory safeguards whatsoever.
Our government, our country, hasn’t just failed school kids. Our government, our country has failed utterly.