Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tucson. Gabby. Guns. Two Years Later.

Almost exactly two years ago, this happened.

I'm incredibly horrified by what happened today in Southern Arizona... But sadly, I'm not all that shocked. This was bound to happen. When our political climate becomes so heated, so polarized, and so radicalized, violence is bound to result. In the next few days, I hope Gabrielle Giffords survives surgery and begins full recovery. And I hope all of our political leaders- left, right, and center- condemn this horrid, criminal, possibly terrorist act, and urge Americans not to allow our politics to become so bloody.

Fortunately, Gabrielle Giffords survived that assassination attempt. However, 8 people died that day and several others were wounded. And even since that happened, there have been more horrific mass shootings throughout America.

Back in January 2011, we discussed this.

Yes, yes, I've heard that famous clause: "Guns don't kill. People do." But you know what? When mentally disturbed people can access extremely lethal "weapons of mass distruction" so easily at the neighborhood gun store or local gun show, that's a serious problem.

Unfortunately, nothing happened after Tucson... Other than even more mass shootings. After the July 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I just couldn't contain my frustration over a crisis that we let get out of hand.

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?

And then, Newtown happened. Apparently, the sight of 20 children and 7 adults slaughtered in their elementary school horrified the entire nation. And it finally led to some deep soul searching on the issue of gun safety.

Of course, there are deranged and disgusting people in this world. Unfortunately, that will never change. However, what has to change is allowing these very people to commit acts of terrorism on our soil. And what has to change is the celebration and downright worship of assault weapons that should have never been allowed to become so commonplace in civilian life.

There. I said it. [...]

[... S]o far, it's looking incredibly likely that Newtown, Connecticut, is now suffering immense loss because of a deranged individual getting one's hands on dangerous assault weapons. There may have been no background check. And clearly, there was no fail-safe to prevent so many bullets from being released so quickly.

Will we ever learn? And will we ever have an honest discussion on how to correct this horrifying failure in public policy? How many more people have to die before we reconsider our extreme allegiance to the gun lobby?

Even Giffords herself, a formerly "pro-gun Democrat" in Congress, has had second thoughts on the extremely permissive attitude towards deadly assault weapons in this country. And she & her husband are now taking action to change that.

And they're not alone. President Obama plans to continue pressing for gun safety reform. And other grassroots voices have emerged in calling for better gun safety. Some of these voices even know firsthand the horrors of extreme gun violence.

Tucson was not the first incident of mass gun violence, nor has it been the last. But as we look back on the last 2 years, we must ask ourselves how much we've done to make our communities safer and free our people from the fear of being "the next victims". And we must demand change.

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