Monday, November 30, 2009
Gun rights shouldn't trump public safety
By William McCarthy | McCarthy, of Salem, was born, raised and attended college in west central Indiana. He is selfemployed as a computer tech and freelance writer.
Gun violence is nothing new in our society, indeed in the United States. Nearly everyone knows about the killings at Columbine High School, Northern Illinois University and, most notably, Virginia Tech. All of these incidents are considered unthinkable tragedies. The public recoils in horror at each successive incident. Or do they? Are we becoming anesthetized to this sort of violent crime?
Memorial services in honor of the victims are becoming commonplace, but these events do not undo the damage. Social behavior experts tell us that movies, television and video games are the cause of these random and heinous acts.
Others say it is the permissive, too tolerant, instant gratification mores that society has adopted over the past 40 or 50 years. Another perspective is that guns have become way too accessible. All of these viewpoints have merit.
The media, our legislators, local officials, law enforcement and, most importantly, the general public all bear some responsibility for effecting change that will ultimately achieve the desired result -- namely a reduction in gun-related violent crime. Talk is cheap. Finger-pointing and recriminations are counterproductive.
Gun-related violence is not endemic to any social strata. It is perpetrated during war, hunting accidents, suicides, by criminals and against domestic partners and family. Gun violence permeates the very fabric of our existence. It reduces us to a less civilized way of life.
Why then, can't an effective solution to this problem be found? If our government is able to protect us from foreign terrorists, why can't it protect us from the domestic kind?
While we cultivate this gun advocacy at home, we are, at the same time, the leading exporters of munitions in our hemisphere and around the world. What is so hard about restricting the sale and use of firearms? No one group has the right to unduly influence and jeopardize the public safety. No one issue can be allowed to compromise the public health and safety. I am quite sure that these last two statements would be fully endorsed by the Founding Fathers.
Gun ownership is not a constitutional prerogative or imperative in the same sense as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How can any of these three rights be legitimately observed when we daily fear for our lives?