On December 14, 2012, a cold Friday morning, 20 children, ages 6 and 7, and 6 adults were viciously murdered at Sandyhook Elementary in Newtown, CT by a man, armed with deadly weapons, and on a killing spree. The children had woken up that day, excited for school, left their parents car in the morning with an “I love you”, and walked into school without a care in the world. Oh, if only they had known. If only. The parents of 20 children and the families of 6 adults are now left in deadly shock, unable to process that their loved one, the jewel of their lives, had their lives taken away by a man who never should have had a gun. Now, we are left in a hazy confusion about how to deal with our gun laws (some believe that there is nothing to be done anyway) in response to this massacre and several others that have occurred recently.
The truth is, Americans love their guns. Since 1959, the public has been questioned about their view on banning guns. At the beginning, 60% said that they would support a ban on handguns, but today, only 26% support a ban! The support for banning guns has decreased as more gun-related deaths and incidents increase. Today, 53% of Americans oppose a ban on assault rifles. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times asks, “Why can’t Americans regulate guns as seriously as we do our cars?” The 53% of Americans in opposition to banning guns claim that children are massacred not by the guns, but by the person. Yesterday, all over Twitter, my brows cringed in confusion as I read the countless retweets of Glenn Beck’s comment “It is not the gun. It is the soul.” I was baffled after reading this tweet and tweets similar to this such as “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” In response, one twitter user responded, “If guns don’t kill people, & people kill people, let’s put a bunch of NRA [National Rifle Association] folk in a room with gun-carrying monkeys and let science take over”. The truth, however, is that people with guns kill people. If people want to blame the people for the deaths in the Connecticut shooting, the Aurora shooting, the Columbine shooting, and the shooting at a Sikh temple, then how come other countries don’t have as many gun-related deaths as we do? They too have people… Don’t tell me that other countries don’t have criminals or mentally unstable individuals. Take deaths related to drunk driving. Do you ever hear anyone saying “Cars don’t kill people. Drunks do?” No? Neither have I. Nevertheless, due to the increasing number of deaths related to drunk driving, automobile companies have implemented several safety standards such as required seat belts, improved air bags, and sturdy child seats. We have introduced limited licenses for young drivers and tried to curb the use of mobile phones while driving. All this has reduced America’s traffic fatality rate per mile driven by nearly 90 percent since the 1950s. Am I asking for a complete ban of guns? NO. In fact, that would be impossible in America, in my opinion. What I’m asking for is proper regulation of guns. I’m asking for more attention being placed on the issue of guns. As Kristof puts it, “we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns.” In the United States, every 20 minutes, someone’s life will be taken away due to gun-related violence. Following the Sandyhook tragedy, many Americans all over the country were left anxious, waiting to hear what would be done about their precious guns. These Americans counter the issue of banning guns by saying, “Even if you ban guns, people will still find a way to buy them. Banning guns or even regulating gun purchase would be ineffective.” Let’s look at this from another perspective. We have laws that govern how we are supposed to drive, don’t we? Even though there ARE people that will break laws while driving, laws are still created in order to keep the public safe. You cannot disregard regulations on something just because you believe that there will still be a select few that choose to break the rules.
Let’s face the truth: We’re Americans, and we love our guns. We defend our right to have guns by quoting the second amendment. However, we must stop pretending that we can execute this right without limit because even with our right to freedom of speech, we understand that there are limits. The outcry of emotion following the deaths of 20 young children was heartbreaking. President Obama was in tears during his speech, and the American people gathered together to celebrate the lives of the children. However, as moving as that sounds, tears don’t have the capability to change our gun laws. To everyone who defends their right to have their guns: Let’s look at guns in terms of the suffering they cause. If you want to understand the human cost of guns in the US, it is vital to focus on the pain and deaths caused by the weapon. For all the uncompromising supporters of unlimited access to guns: Look at the shooting in Connecticut. Look at the shooting in Aurora. Look at the shooting at Columbine. Try your best to understand the other side’s argument. Understand that America’s blind embrace of gun rights has made all these massacres possible, and children are paying the price for your zealous defense of guns. I leave you with this – “If we impose rules on toy guns to make them safer, shouldn’t we do the same with real ones?”
by Bushra Islam