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Isn’t ‘20 Children and 6 Adults’ Enough?

What will it take for reasonable conversation about changes to our gun culture? Patch columnist Heather Borden Herve asks if the number of Newtown’s dead is finally reason to say, “Enough.”

I’m tired of the rhetoric, from all sides. I’m tired of the pro-gun statistic fight against the anti-gun statistic fight.  

There comes a point where ‘this’ quote citation to defend constitutional originalism and ‘that’ quote citation to defend constitutional interpretation is basically like arms buildup. I’ll see your statistic and absolute proof that the Founding Fathers wanted us to keep our guns, and I’ll raise you my statistic and historically empirical evidence that they never could have imagined semi-automatic, rapid-firing reloading guns in the hands of citizens!

Quite honestly, I can’t decide if I’ve intentionally used that ‘arms buildup’ pun or not. Because I just don’t know what makes it through the rhetorical barrage anymore.

On each side, we find our numbers and quotes to defend our position and we’ll continue having the same argument unless we say, “Enough.”

Can we consider the possibility that a document that is almost 226 years old might need us to legitimately reconsider the context of 2013 when figuring out how to move forward? Can we consider that the unfathomable slaughter of 20 children and 6 adults in a school, a place once considered a safe haven, is a price too high to pay to ignore that?

Because while we may debate the certainty of what the framers of the Constitution really did want when it comes to the Second Amendment, what I think we can all agree on with absolute certainty is that the individuals who wrote it did respect thoughtful consideration, reasonable debate, and discussion without absolutist decree. If they were content with failure to change, we never would have had found ourselves independent of England’s rule to begin with.

The closest thing I’ve found to even begin to approach reasonable discussion about the gun rights debate is an article in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg — a link to which was posted in one of the 110-plus comments of a Wilton Patch article I wrote last week about a local group that met with state legislators to talk about the issue. (I’m sure the reader who made the comment and link will be surprised that I’m citing it here, as he and I stand, by and large, on opposite sides of the debate.)

The Atlantic piece asserts that there are steps which could be taken to reduce access to guns and ammunition “for the criminially minded, for the dangerously mentally ill and for the suicidal, and that measures could be taken that sensibly restrict access to weapons and ammunition that “have no reasonable civilian purpose, and their sale could be restricted without violating the Second Amendment rights of individual gun owners.” However, he concludes, these efforts would be noble but “too late” to have any meaningful impact on the rate of gun violence.

He writes that it’s too late because of the number of guns — 280 to 300 million — in private hands in this country.

While I disagree with much of what the Atlantic writer asserts — from an emotional standpoint — I have to give the writer credit for speaking to experienced people around the country on both sides’ frontlines of the gun discussion: victims of gun violence, researchers, law enforcement officers, gun enthusiasts, and lobbyists and activists.

It’s a step toward acknowledgement of what each side believes; it concedes that each side has some ground, at the very least; and it starts to establish a foundation for how pro and con advocates might be able to stop ramming each other and start listening, if not conceding, to each other, “You’ve got a point.”

I acknowledge that I tend to come at this issue from my own, emotional perspective. Even this opinion column has to take a side, by definition, if not just by its headline. But the emotional arguments of gun-control crusaders that get belittled by the gun-rights activists are just as outsized as the fear-mongering assertions made by those same extreme gun-rightists meant to stop anti-gun advocates in their tracks.

But I suspect there are plenty of people in the middle who would like to figure out a way to move toward this rational discussion about how some changes can be made.

Haven’t we had enough of the killings to try? I guess not when some people think we don’t have enough guns, as if the solution to gun violence is more guns. Or that it’s too late to do anything about it because there are too many guns out there already, so why try anything at all?

We can keep headed the wrong way down the road, where more deaths are sure to happen, and just continue going the wrong way because we’ll eventually get to where we need to go. The world is round so all we have to do is circle the globe, we’ll get there eventually. But by then, there won’t be enough of us left on either side who say, “Enough.”

The Atlantic piece ends with Goldberg writing about gun-control advocate Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign, who asked, “’In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?’ Do we want to live in one ‘in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?’” Goldberg adds that in a nation with 300 million guns, it’s an irrelevant question.

That’s exactly why my initial question — “Isn’t ‘20 Children and 6 Adults’ Enough?” — needs to be seen as anything but irrelevant. It’s become the most relevant question of all.

Momof3 January 08, 2013 at 01:14 PM
I am counting on the historic increase in the number of women in Congress to makes strides in compromise on not only this issue but so many issues in our society that are in need of reasonable compromise. I may sound like a feminist to some but I do believe that women have some innate characteristics that can help to move previously "taboo " topics to the center of the table and get something done. Empathy, the ability to multi task and a natural desire for consensus (maybe due to their role in keeping their family/clan bound together throughout the history of mankind) This of course doesn't apply to all women nor does not having these characteristics apply to all men; however I remain hopeful that we can look forward to change in our National tone on so many levels.
Marty Isaac January 08, 2013 at 05:04 PM
My name is Marty Isaac and I am President of Connecticut Against Gun Violence. The title of our organization is key -- we are not anti gun, we are against gun violence. I joined the organization 2 years ago and have been seeking ways to keep people safe while not infringing on the rights of others. I am hopeful and optimistic that we will pass meaningful legislation that will reduce the propensity for gun violence in the coming months. If you would like to help us, please join us! You can learn more at www.cagv.org and www.facebook.com/connecticutagainstgunviolence.
Jim Eastwood January 08, 2013 at 05:34 PM
To All How are you going to control the Illegal fire arms???? Remember what Prohabition did to this country in the 20's Think about that !!!!
Jim Flynn January 08, 2013 at 10:18 PM
The twenties were beefore my time. I do however remeber December 2013 when 20 students and six adults were killed by a semi automatic in Newtown. That's a boatload more relevant than Prohibition.
MAC January 09, 2013 at 04:14 AM
"Opinion," NOT "news," Heather. You must love Sen. Feinstein's determination to end all gun rights except for hunting, basically. Never mind the fact that she probably has her own ARMED bodyguards, as does diminutive M. Bloomberg. I will stand instead with the honorable Marine who wrote to Feinstein: Cpl. Joshua "Boston’s letter, titled 'No ma’am,' was first posted on CNN’s iReport on Dec. 27"... “I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America,' the eight-year Marine Corps veteran wrote. "Boston said he wrote it after seeing all of the 'misinformation' and 'fear-mongering' coming out of the gun control discussion"... "with many gun control laws on the books already, new legislation will do nothing to deter criminals. “'There’s over 2,000 gun laws as it is and the fact of the matter is predators are amongst us and we have to recognize that fact. We don’t live in a utopia. Our citizens have to be armed to protect themselves from these mad men,' Boston said. 'People will choose whether or not to carry if they want to. ..should we unfortunately ever find ourselves in a situation to protect others in our lives we will.'”... www.theblaze.com/stories/unconstitutional-laws-arent-laws-marine-who-penned-blistering-letter-to-sen-feinstein-over-gun-control-speaks-out/
Jim Eastwood January 09, 2013 at 08:25 AM
To Jim and All Maybe you might study History--What prohibition did was increase the Wanting for Liquor, it also brought into being a Violent Black market resulting in soome of the Illegal activities we have today. What did it result in ?? a GREATER Dealth rate. Study History The New Commission that has been appointed is a Mature, Balenced group(I Know Many of them0 who will look at the issues in a Professional un emotional manner. Neither side is right Nor are they wrong--- Study your History !!!
Momof3 January 09, 2013 at 01:37 PM
No parent need bury a child with 11 bullet holes in their tiny innocent body- had a handgun or otherwise been used in Newtown at least half of those children would have had a chance of survival- we are not talking about taking away all guns as we did liquor -we are talking about 30 and 100 round clips that take mass casualties- can you give me one reason why anyone other than trained military personnel should need one? Food for thought- Louisiana has the loosest gun laws in the country and the highest rate of gun casualties.
Jim Eastwood January 09, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Dear mom No Parent need to bury their child killed by an SUV driving person talking on their cell phone also. Nor by a Drunk driver Nor by a House fire with no smoke detectors. This happens much much more than Guns. Yes Mental Health is an issue here also Ledt the Commission investigate in and objective manner and take the emotions and put them on the shelf
Jim Flynn January 09, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Don't need to study my history any further back than December 2012. Obviously, you have no issue if 20 or more six year olds are killed by a semi-automatic gun in the future because it will happen again.

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