A few thoughts on the word evil | GUEST OP

  • Friday, November 24, 2017 9:30am
  • Opinion

Spread the word, painful and bitter though it may be for some to hear, nothing about this latest mass-shooting will bring about change to America’s sacrosanct protection of the Second Amendment.

What we are witnessing is that suggesting any restrictions on gun possession is anathema to our appetite for the unfettered freedom to own as many guns as we think we are entitled to. I’m sure many of us remember Charlton Heston’s impassioned speech at the NRA convention in 2000 in which he triumphantly held his long rifle above his head declaring, “From my cold dead hands.”

Indeed, it seems logical to me to divide America’s potential for enacting common-sense gun control into two parts, before Sandy Hook and after. If we weren’t going to tackle this issue after 20 elementary school kids were slaughtered while using their glue sticks to create works of art that would never grace the family refrigerator, then we won’t do it after a 17-month-old was shot to death during a church service either.

“This isn’t a gun issue, it is a mental illness issue,” is something I hear frequently from government officials. If that is the case, then why on Feb. 28 of this year did our government begin to block the Social Security administration from reporting mentally-impaired recipients who are found to be legally incapable of managing their own finances to a database that would prohibit them from purchasing a gun?

And, for that matter, why in the same month did our Justice Department issue a new definition of the word “fugitive” that would allow more individuals with outstanding arrest warrants to legally buy guns?

Why?

Follow the money. The NRA spent 30 million dollars in ads supporting the Republican nominee for president last year, so it should be no surprise that at the NRA convention in April this year, our Republican president stood at the podium and proclaimed, “You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you.” Folks, nothing is going to change, we will just need to get used to this way of life, or death as it were.

I wonder, does labeling someone evil give us some answer we seek in explaining how one can open fire on a group of people? I listen to the news and hear the anchors and their guests lament these shootings as acts of evil and call the accused monsters. The words evil and monster are nothing more than hyperbole – they really don’t mean a thing. The fact is, most of these shootings are done by men who should never have had access to a gun in the first place; they were either mentally ill or more importantly, had a history of violence.

A report from Every Town for Gun Safety found that in mass shootings between the years 2009 and 2016, 54 percent were related to domestic or family abuse and that 34 percent involved a shooter who was prohibited from possessing firearms.

We don’t bemoan having to pass a test to get a license before we can drive or having to register a car that we purchase, we don’t get up in arms that “they” are coming to take our cars when we do these things. But we do fear any regulation on guns will result in the loss of our right to own guns – as many as we want. This is fear mongering. Law-abiding folks should be able to purchase and own guns, but the problem is we have made it easy for dangerous people to purchase and own guns.

Will some people break the law and drive without a license? Of course, they will, but that doesn’t mean we stop regulating drivers and their cars, it is a public safety issue. People will continue to drink and drive, but it is still illegal to do so. We are a land of laws – except when it comes to guns.

This isn’t an issue of protecting our constitutional rights either. Our freedom of speech comes with limitations; you can’t incite violence or give false statements. And our freedom of religion only seems to apply to Christianity; one need only look to the loud fight for a Muslim ban this year to see that.

I wish we could entertain the possibility that unrestricted gun ownership isn’t protecting anyone’s rights. Because what about the rights of the people in Orlando, Fla., who want to dance the night away without being shot at by a guy who had previously assaulted his wife and who had been on a terrorist watch list, or the rights of the 6-year-old in Newtown, Conn., who wants to make a Santa Claus decoration for his grandpa right before Christmas without being shot by a guy who was mentally ill and known to be obsessed with mass shootings, or the rights of the 17-month-old in Sutherland Springs, Texas, to be fussy during church without being shot by a guy who had been court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child?

What about their rights? They are all like veterans who have died in the line of duty so we can exercise our unrestricted, Second Amendment rights. Thanks for your service dancers, kindergartners and church goers. This derelict system is failing the very people it purports to serve.

Today’s Zeitgeist seems to be that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Nope, if Stephen Paddock didn’t have a stockpile of guns he would have just been a depressed guy with money troubles in Vegas. But that isn’t what happened, is it?

When I look up the definition of evil, some words that pop up are: wrong, immoral, dishonorable, corrupt, malicious. Could it be us collectively who are evil for sitting silently on our hands while this killing continues? There will never be an impetus for us getting a handle on this problem – sweet, innocent, precious dead babies haven’t.

No, if it hasn’t happened yet, it isn’t likely to.

Staci Whitehouse is a writer and columnist living in Kent.

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