To the editor:
We knew it would happen.
After an initial silence in the wake of the nightmare in Newtown, the gun lobby is out in force trying to derail efforts to get the assault weapons ban reinstated, establish standardized background checks on people buying guns, and close the “gun show loophole” that allows anyone with the money in hand to walk away, no questions asked —with the very same “Bushmaster” the Connecticut shooter used on 20 first-graders.
The head of the National Gun Owners Association seemed to equate the calls for a ban on assault weapons with support for abortion because he believes people calling for a ban on assault weapons have diminished the value of human life by being willing to limit people’s gun rights, thus denying them the ability to defend themselves from the “evil” that was carried out in Connecticut.
He went on to say if the teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School had been armed the tragedy might have been averted.
Yet, in 2008 and 2009, more pre- and elementary-school aged children were killed by gunfire than police officers were in the line of duty.
Gun violence is as much a matter of public health as it is a criminal one. We need to begin viewing it in that light.
Reinstating the assault weapons ban, requiring back ground checks, and closing the “gun show loophole” do not deny law abiding citizens who want to own a gun the right to do so. They simply are a means of reducing the risk that people who, for a myriad of reasons, should not possess lethal weapons are able get them.
Truly law-abiding gun owners should not fear these measures because, as many conservatives like to say in relation other legal and criminal matters; if people have nothing to hide, they should not object to a little extra scrutiny if it benefits and promotes public safety.
The same holds true for people looking to legally purchase guns. After all, we know most of the mass shootings in recent years, like in Colorado last summer and in Arizona two years ago, were carried out by disturbed individuals, some with histories of problems with the law, who were still able to buy their guns legally. That should be unacceptable to every thinking American.
It is time to enact balanced gun safety laws and standards so that the rights and safety of all Americans are protected, whether they choose to own guns or not — if for no other reason than to assure those precious little kids in Newtown will not have died in vain.
Vieques, Puerto Rico