Ban Semi-Automatic Assault Weapons
The national anguish we go through after an event like this is becoming tragically common. We’ve witnessed mass shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a Christian university in Oakland, California, a mall in Portland, Oregon, and now at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. At this point, is it really fair to say we are “shocked” anymore? How many times do we have to wake up to grieving facebook statuses from our friends and breaking news headlines on CNN before we stop pretending that shootings in the U.S. are unusual?
Anyone who tries to bring up gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy will be immediately accused of “politicizing” the tragedy, as if “politicizing” is a dirty word. But what does “politicizing” it actually mean? Certainly, our elected officials should not try to capitalize on tragedy for personal or partisan political gain. But that does not mean we shouldn’t acknowledge and address the underlying issues of the shooting, including gun control. So-called “political opportunists” who raise this very relevant topic of discussion related to gun violence, which continues to rock the nation on a regular basis, are the exception to the millions of people who are unwilling to even talk about the problem, much less actually implement a solution.
Refusing to address the underlying issues behind our grief is counterproductive and illogical. Our reaction to other types of prominent tragedies makes it very clear that gun control in relation to mass shootings is the only type of tragedy that is treated this way. Did we refuse to talk about the weaknesses of our national infrastructure system and disaster management capabilities after the levees broke in New Orleans? Was everyone too afraid of being insensitive to talk about terrorism and airport security in the wake of 9/11? Of course not. The only reason gun control opponents urge us to hold off on that debate is because they dont' want to face the ugly repercussions of their ideology.
Perhaps banning all guns would be too extreme, but reforming our gun policies to ban, at the very least, the massively destructive semi-automatic assault weapons that are almost always used in mass shootings, seems like a no-brainer. One of the most-frequently cited arguments for keeping guns legal is self-defense. Even if we accept that there is merit to this argument, we should not and cannot extend it to semi-automatic assault weapons. Semi-automatic assault weapons are nothing more than killing machines, designed to wreak as much destruction as possible - which is exactly what Adam Lanza intended to do yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Call it politicizing or call it sanity, the time has come to bring reasonable gun control laws back to our society. So go ahead, “politicize” the tragedy. Don’t do it for partisan gain, do it for the memory of those who lost their lives to a weapon that has no place in our society in the first place.
Reach Contributor Daniel Lewin here.