Wednesday, December 26, 2012

10 of 12: Aurora. Newtown. Guns. Violence. Change?

While gun violence has been a problem for this country for quite some time, the issue came to the forefront in 2012 in a rather bloody and tragic way. In July, shots were fired in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. 12 people died, and 58 were injured. They were watching the premiere of the new "Batman" film.

It was another horrific crime that "pushed the envelope" on violence in this country. And it made us ask...

It's become so easy in most parts of this country (Nevada included) to purchase not just guns, but the very assault weapons that are DESIGNED to kill masses of people. As we've discussed before, it's been easier to buy guns than to access affordable mental health care in most states. There's something seriously wrong with that. [...]

Frankly, I don't think we can afford to keep avoiding this subject. And I don't think it's fair to dismiss all gun safety advocates as "nanny state socialists who want to ban hunting". That's actually not what we're talking about.

Rather, we're asking how logical it is that instruments intended for mass murder are so readily available. And does it make sense that nearly anyone and everyone can access these instruments intended for mass murder? So when will we finally be allowed to have a rational discussion on improving gun safety?

Unfortunately, this would not be the last time. Just this month, the issue has come to the forefront after a slew of shootings.

That's what makes the series if events today even more tragic. 18 innocent children are dead, along with at least 8 adults. A small town in Connecticut has been devastated by horrific violence. And it really didn't have to happen. And if we want to prevent future tragedies like this one, then we must act. [...]

Even though we've heard plenty of people declare on the cable news channels that "now is not the time" to discuss better gun safety, we just can't do that. How many times have we heard this before when other incidents of mass gun violence occurred? How many more of these must we endure as a nation before we finally take action?

Just this past Tuesday, someone opened fire inside a mall in the Clackamas County suburbs of Portland, Oregon. Two people died, and many more were frightened just as they were doing their Holiday shopping. And then, less than 72 hours after that gruesome act of violence in Oregon, someone else opened fire in an elementary school in Connecticut. And Desert Beacon has a full list of even more mass shootings that occurred just this year. Again, this is truly disgusting. And both events should show us that we can no longer blithely ignore this growing problem of domestic terrorism carried out by easily accessible guns.

While today should be a day to allow those who lost loved ones to grieve, today should also be a day to ponder what happened... And address what's wrong with our gun policies.

And it didn't even stop there. Closer to home, shots were fired at Excalibur on the Las Vegas Strip mere hours after Newtown. And the following day, someone opened fire (but in this case, was stopped before anyone could be hurt) in an upscale mall in Orange County, California.

And it didn't even stop there. Last weekend, a gunman opened fire and shot dead 4 firefighters in New York City. And this gunman used the same assault rifle that Adam Lanza used when shooting dead 18 children and 8 adults in Newtown, Connecticut.

So there's actually been renewed discussion of better gun safety. Yet unlike previous occasions, this effort may be more sustained. I guess it's just too hard to forget the sight of 18 dead children in an elementary school.

So Harry Reid and other "pro-gun Democrats" suddenly had a change of heart. And President Obama became determined to push gun safety reform in the new Congress. Even here in Nevada, one brave legislator plans to introduce gun safety legislation (including a state assault weapons ban) in Carson City next session.

We'll have to see if this change is truly lasting. But so far, it looks like many people have been spurned to action after a tear of exceptional violence. And really, can we continue like this?

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