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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.

Pete January 08, 2013 at 12:29 PM
No matter the rhetoric and emortional play, FBI statistics do not lie. There are less murders with guns than knives, clubs, hammers, hands ... number one killer in our society are cigarettes at 529,000 compared to number 10 with 11,493 in firearm deaths most of which are in urban ghettos. BASE YOU ARGUMENT WITH LOGIC AND STATISTICS NOT WITH BLIND EMOTIONS.
Peter Garcia January 08, 2013 at 08:27 PM
The actual figure 3,287 dead babies a day in 2011.
Peter Garcia January 08, 2013 at 09:21 PM
It's a daily massacre!
Peter Garcia January 09, 2013 at 12:09 AM
DB, FBI numbers also show crime rate at a low and gun ownership high. The FBI being non policy making branch of government established to fight crime have the actual facts. Facts are not up for argument. Numbers do not lie. They are barking up the wrong tree.
Common Sense January 09, 2013 at 01:08 PM
DBJr... hope you pay as much attention to your family as you do The Patch. I'm done with patch, in large part because of users like you.
Common Sense January 09, 2013 at 02:38 PM
DBJr... way to keep it mature. I knew you'd reply in this way. Further's my cements my decision to avoid Patch. You and others have taken over the site... your blogs, your comments, your insults. I am not a victim, just a person trying to get some local news and not have to see comments like yours celebrating gun appreciation day on a concern mothers opinion piece... considering what just happened so close to home why don't you just comment on your own articles.... instead of trying to stoke people's fires with your antagonistic comments. Go ahead... reply with some dumb response now... we all know your M O... gotta have the last word and make sure you get your anti-gunner and liberal baffoon commentary in there too.
Tom jones January 09, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Proof positive to Common's belief's that DBjr is a bully and insulting, a post from him not 2 days ago to follow: guns make you piss in your pants with fear. This conversation is over, sweetness. I have no time for dealing with cupcakes like you.
Peter Garcia January 09, 2013 at 04:34 PM
DBJr , You have spoken very eloquently and I stand by everything you have stated. You are more a gentleman with substance, expressing his rights than commonsense could stand up to.
Tom jones January 09, 2013 at 04:55 PM
A lot of people look at this as a battle between people who want to take away all the guns and people who want to have no restrictions on guns; but MOST members of the public and most members of the Legislature understand that REASONABLE restrictions on guns make sense.
Tom jones January 09, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Hardly weak minded, but granted you are entitled to your opinion, I believe you were just frustated because I was able to expose all your "facts" as incorrect, or at the very least slanted. You are an etremeist with no contributions on how to come to some civilized compromise, on how to get weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals. We do not want take your guns away, but a belief by guys like Lapierre and Alan Jones that more guns equals more security is shortsighted. We can have all the protection you want in our schools, but what happens when a 'sicko" goes after a "softer' target, a playground, a McDonald's. You stated you want to feverishly protect our kids, but give no solutions as to how.
Tom jones January 09, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Ah, because they are trying NOT TO TRAMPLE on your 2nd Amendment to carry one, once again semi-automatic weapons are a bit excessive for the average citizen, even General McChrstal would agree: you seem to like links, read for yourself http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/01/08/former-gen-mcchrystal-assault-rifles-are-for-battlefields-not-schools/
Tom jones January 09, 2013 at 05:19 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chantel-garrett/mental-health_b_2435290.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime And also address mental health issues, I guess my posts have been falling on deaf ears, because this is what I have been advocating all along, HOW DO WE GET THE GUNS OUT OF HANDS OF DANGEROUS PEOPLE, not law abiding citizens such as yourself
Tom jones January 09, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Well on that position we are gonna have to agree to disagree, i feel that turning this country back to the Wild West era, where everyone has a gun is not the answer, the latecomers to the party wouldn't know who to defend , how you going to tell the "good guys" from the bad guys?
Tom jones January 09, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Besides a cited a playground populated by let's assume ALL children, who is going to defend them?
Peter Garcia January 09, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Amen to "All children should be protected by ALL parents". I never heard that one before and I love it! As for me, when I carry, my level of responsibility seem to go up....
Peter Garcia January 09, 2013 at 07:35 PM
DB, Glad there are expressive and logical people like you around to help reason on what we believe in. You handled it very well in these threads. Thanks.

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