The close of 2012 saw dozens of families in the sleepy township of Newtown, Connecticut in the throes of inconsolable grief after an incomprehensible act of gun violence left a score of their children dead.
Christmas, a holiday that revolves around being with family, could’ve only felt like so much salt in the grievous wound that had just been inflicted upon that close-knit community.
It’s been a long, dark month since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary took place, but only the passage of time will heal the hearts hurt by that tragedy.
January 8th marked the second anniversary of another mass-shooting—in 2011, Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az.) was shot through the head while speaking at a Tucson grocery store by a man using a semi-automatic pistol with extended-capacity clips.
The gunman, Jared Loughner, shot 19 people. Giffords has since fully recovered, but six others present at the rally lost their lives, among them U.S. District Judge John Roll.
On that second anniversary of the shooting in Arizona, USA Today published an open letter from the former Representative and her husband, which begins in this way:
“In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary — nothing at all.”
Our Congress has done nothing at all to try and stop violence like the kind that struck Newtown, Connecticut in December of last year.
Giffords points out that since she was shot in early 2011, 11 mass-shootings have occurred in America, including the one in Newtown.
In an effort to stop such tragedies from happening in the future and to balance the political power of pro-2nd Amendment lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association, Giffords and her husband have launched a super-PAC called Americans for Responsible Solutions.
There is no clear and easy answer to the problem of gun-related violence in our country. It’s not just a question of crime; this is a broad public health issue, and should be treated as such.
A step in the right direction would be a ban on any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to allow the user to kill large numbers of people very quickly.
Like the .223-caliber semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle that was used by Adam Lanza to kill 20 school children at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Or the extended-magazine clips Jared Loughner used to spray bullets into the crowd gathered at the political rally in Tucson.
Basically, firearms designed to be used in a combat situation by trained soldiers shouldn’t be manufactured for commercial sale, period-point-blank.
A second step in the right direction would be more readily-available mental health care services and more stringent background checks for those attempting to purchase firearms.
In almost every case of mass gun violence in the last two years, the shooter had a history of mental illness. If you can’t get a mental grip without medication—if you need to take psychiatric drugs to stay balanced—you don’t deserve to own a firearm.
Buy some mace or learn karate if you’re worried about self-defense.