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Gun Arguments Die in Latest Massacre

I don’t want to hear that it’s not guns that are the problem, people are.

I don’t want to listen to speculation that if one person inside that Connecticut elementary school had a concealed carry permit, everything would have turned out differently.

Everybody can stop talking about our rights under the Constitution, too.

All of the tired arguments against gun control are dead.

They died Friday under a pile of bloody kids.

Year after year, month after month and, lately, week after week, someone in this country goes on a killing rampage. Many times the killer is consumed by anger and takes out people he knows. Just as often, the killer is mentally ill and targets strangers. Sometimes, who knows the motive? People’s brains are bundles of electrical impulses and, on occasion, they just go off.

Rage, mental illness, impulsivity – we can’t control any of that. They’re all part and parcel of the human condition. They’ve walked among us forever, and they will continue to.

The other factor in every one of the tragedies that finds us drawn to the TV in a sick stupor is one we can control.

Almost without exception, our movie theater massacres, our bloody workplace revenges, our mall killings and our school slaughters are carried out by people with guns.

We can control guns.

We just don’t want to.

Instead, we worry about our safety and put security systems around our homes and businesses and schools and we buy more guns. As Friday morning’s horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., reminds us, fear and security protocols don’t keep guns away when they’re in the hands of our friends, neighbors and families.

Adam Lanza, 20, walked in to the school at around 9:30 in the morning and began spraying bullets. Six adults and 20 children were killed.

Lanza was reported to have been equipped with Glock and Sig-Sauer handguns and a .223 Bushmaster, a semi-automatic rifle capable of carrying high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The .223 Bushmaster is one of the “long guns” that become the focus of debate any time the issue is raised that maybe it’s time to change our laws and culture regarding firearms.

What is the purpose of possessing three guns like that? I’ll cover my ears now as you answer: Hunting. Sport shooting. “It’s my right.”

If we’re a people of conscience, we won’t look at the bewildered, terrified faces of 5-year-olds who have just witnessed a mass murder and continue to argue that our “rights” to have free and easy access to semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines and guns in large quantities outweigh the hurt.

It’s time to put all approaches to stopping our massacre culture on the table. For starters, let’s look at requiring background checks on all gun sales, making those background checks stronger, flat-out banning the guns and ammunition clips that are capable of killing a couple dozen people in a few terrifying seconds.

In the United States, civilians own some 270 million guns, and between 9,000 and 10,000 people die here every year in firearm homicides.

We own guns here at the highest rate in the world. And we bury people who were just grabbing a bite at a food court at the mall. Or people who were just taking in a movie.

And now we bury kids who were just at school practicing their ABCs.

It’s time for Congress to refuse the calls of the gun lobbyists and get to work. It’s time for the president to really lead on the issue, regardless of the political push back.

And it’s time for Americans to stop talking about our individual rights and start accepting our collective responsibilities.

If we don’t, who are we?

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Leslie at 823-3914 or llinthicum@abqjournal.com. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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