Opinion: Sensible boundaries are necessary for gun control
I never imagined I would be living in a country that is so scared of children carrying weapons that a 7-year-old would be suspended from school for munching on a snack food until it turned into the shape of a gun. I never would have guessed that South Dakota (with possibly 20 more states to come) would allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom or that two towns in Georgia would legally compel adult residents to own a gun. But this past week, all of the above came true, and my confidence in the sanity of America is quickly waning. The only sense I can make of it is that instead of using the pain of Newtown as a force for positive change, some Americans are reacting with an irrational insanity that won’t solve the problem and may even make it worse. And before we frighten our cities into becoming renditions of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” I think there are some questions we should ask ourselves.
Are we really so swayed by the scare tactics of the National Rifle Association that we want to exchange a mentally ill man gunning down first-graders for the possibility of an over-worked, under-paid teacher gunning down students? Are the people screaming for the Second Amendment to be repealed screaming so loudly that we are willing to force citizens into bearing arms even if it is against their personal principles? Are the peaceful parents restricting their children from playing with Super Soaker water guns really so passive that common sense is thrown out the window and into a child who gobbled his pastry into the wrong shape?
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms” did not come from some vague idea of freedom that our Founding Fathers believed in and the fact that they took away the government’s ability to infringe on that right speaks volumes. Their extensive experience taught them that a government gains overwhelming power against its own people if that government holds all of the military power. After all, isn’t that the very definition of a dictatorship or an absolute monarchy? Isn’t that how Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Castro all rose to and maintained their power?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that peace-loving, anti-gun citizens want our government to turn into a dictatorship. And I certainly don’t believe that well-thought-out, targeted gun laws will lead to the overthrow of the United States as we know it. What I am suggesting is quite simple — everybody put down your weapons and listen to each other before the gun debate becomes the next abortion fiasco in our collective history. The ongoing abortion boxing match should teach us that retreating to extreme, radical corners never works. In most cases, there is truth and error on both sides of the debate. But if we keep putting our hands over our ears and stomping our stubborn feet like toddlers pitching fits, we will never hear what the other side has to say.
Just as our Founding Fathers history taught them that the right to bear arms was a crucial political and personal freedom, our modern history has taught us that sensible boundaries must be placed on that right. Common sense demands that if a person must attend classes, take a test, maintain a current license, and register their car, then a person must do the same to carry a firearm. Logic dictates that anyone who is severely mentally ill and incapable of properly functioning in society should be prevented, to the best of the law’s ability, from having access to guns. Responsibility requires that our government should do everything in its power to remove guns from felonious citizens and crack down on the illegal gun trade in every way. And sadly, the last two decades of violence in our schools have proven that it may be time to require every school in our nation to have at least one well-trained, well-armed police officer protecting our children’s right to learn in safety.
Just as our Founding Fathers never imagined that the Second Amendment would become a shield for gun-toting murderers to hide behind, neither did any of the rest of us, but we cannot allow our grief to define us. “We the people” have been entrusted with a legacy of civil liberties that changed the world. Now it is up to us to protect those liberties and demand that they be amended wisely, not distorted by fear.
Tiffany Miller is a Tahoe resident and mother. Visit her website at http://mycrayonbox.org.