, Gloucester, MA

December 20, 2012

Letter: Let tragedy bring us meaningful gun laws

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

“Freedom is just another name for nothing left to lose.” — Kris Kristofferson/Janis Joplin

The senseless shootings in Sandy Hook Elementary School defy explanation.

Coming as it did at the time of year, the place, and upon its unwitting and innocent victims leaves even this old curmudgeon gasping for breath and bewildered at its formlessness.

Could it be that chaos is the norm rather than the aberration? Could it be that the notion of “freedom” that we Americans have so proudly usurped as our identity is nothing more than the frenetic entropy referred to in the rather pessimistic lyrics of the above mentioned singer of the 1960s?

A visibly moved President Obama Sunday night addressed a grief-stricken community of Sandy Hook, Conn., at its local high school. It is a town like a thousand other towns around America, a high school auditorium, like a thousand other high school auditoriums, addressing an audience like a thousand other concerned parents and townsfolk. A potentially worthy topic matter for a Norman Rockwell easel was conceivable.

Something was askew, however. Remarks usually reserved for commemorating and making sense of a cause sanctioned by the government were now being used in the attempts to make sense of the unthinkable happening in the theater of a school setting — to explain the unexplainable, to put order on chaos seems to be beyond our grasp.

“Certainly we can do better…,” the president understated when he queried whether we are doing our utmost to protect our children.

The president’s ability to divest himself of the sloganeering crutch of this happening being attributed to “a cost of our freedom” spoke to the central issue, I believe, of this horrible prevalence of violence and guns in our society.

That we are a society that values independence and individuality is a fact few would dispute. We are taught we can get what we want, when we want, by whatever means be at our disposal. Often what is lost in this mindset is the inherent need for the healthy person to rely on the help and care of others.

No person more perfectly embodies this truth of human existence than that of an innocent and wondering child. Nothing is the further antithesis of this than the cold, relentless, destructive precision of a semi automatic assault rifle.

The time is far past due. The blood and writing has been on the wall for far too long. Gun control, not the economy, not foreign affairs, not gay marriage, not election reform, is the issue that cries out from the many past graves and soon to be graves of the innocents. This government-sanctioned killings of our innocents must be stopped by passing anti-gun legislation now.

At this dark time of Christmas, many are preoccupied with the craziness of the holidays. But behind the craziness is the freedom and joy of seeing the wonder of a child on a Christmas morn open a present wrapped in bows and colored paper. It is not the present itself that is the source of this joy so much perhaps as the expectation of what this present may be.

Children, in many ways, for parents are these wrapped presents under our tree of life. Let us cherish this potential, this hope by adopting meaningful laws and prohibitions so as to truly enhance and more nearly secure the freedom that we as a country so cherish.


Curtis Street, Rockport