Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dear Vice President Biden,

My six year old son woke me up last night after having a bad dream. Soon after I hugged him and got him back to sleep, I feel asleep myself only to wake a short while later from a nightmare about an armed man entering a large wedding reception ready to open fire.

I could not say to myself when I awoke, "don't worry, it's only a dream."

Regardless of the interpretation of the Second Amendment, we can be certain that our forefathers could not imagine the level of violence possible with modern gun technology. Moreover, ours is a country where the safety of many is ALWAYS more important than the rights of a few to recreation.

Take, for example, smoking. If my son's first grade teacher loved to smoke (and, of course, has a right to smoke), and chained smoked while she taught, she would be told that she cannot smoke on school grounds. In fact, we now have rules that smoking is not allowed in most public spaces. Does this inconvenience smokers? Yes. Does it rub up against their freedom? Sure. But is her love of smoking more important than the health of a group of children? Is there anyone who wouldn't answer yes?

You could do the same with drunk driving. Some people might be just fine driving around drunk and if their drunk driving only injured themselves, it wouldn't be a problem. But it doesn't. And so, our rights to drink and drive have been curtailed. Or let's take anthrax. Do I have a right to make it? Or to conjure up some biological weapons of mass destruction in my husband's lab--just in case the end of the world arrives? Or just because I think it's fun? Obviously not.

The right to bear arms is no different. I don't personally like guns, but I don't doubt that some decent human beings think it's great to shoot a gun for fun. But that person is confused if they think that their right to own a weapon that could murder another person is a more important right than my child's right to live when he goes to school. (That person may say, "I would never harm someone else," but then the majority of mass shootings have been committed by legal gun owners and your neighbor's kid could always come steal your gun. I have to say it: it's just not all about YOU.) I'm not saying people can't have guns, just like we're not saying people can't drink or smoke or ride ATVs. I'm saying, guns belong ONLY in shooting galleries. We say that ATVs can go on paths, backroads, open fields, but for the safety of all, they can't go down the highway.

What can't this logic be applied to this issue? If the gun companies are worried about the loss of sales money (and boo-hoo! some people have lost children!), then perhaps they could learn from the car companies and adapt. Car companies faced a crises and responded by making more fuel efficient cars appropriate for this time. The gun companies could start making recreational Nerf guns, because, hey, if you're doing something for fun it really doesn't need to be something that could kill someone else, now does it?

On the day of the Newtown shooting a man stabbed twenty children in a Chinese school, but they all lived. In truth, crazy people will always be around. This is a gun issue and you and the President must be visionaries and leaders to make a permanent change. We have the most gun violence in this country, not because we need MORE guns, but because we have too many. This is not merely opinion. Statistics back it up: "The United States has the highest gun ownership rates in the world and the second highest rate of gun deaths among industrialized nations. That's not a coincidence. Looking at developed nations, the U.S. is the end point of a staggering trend where the higher the rate of gun ownership, the more people die from gun wounds."

I have three young children. If my two year old runs around with a spoon in his mouth, I take it away, not because a spoon is wrong, but because he could hurt himself and spoons belong at the table. Guns belong in the shooting range and nowhere else. I challenge any person to tell me that their right to a massive assault weapon is in the best interest of ANYONE. I won't say the word selfish, but I'll think it.

Thank you for taking firm, revolutionary, history making action which rests upon strong, established policy precedent in this country to preserve the right of each of us to live in peace. You can be brave and stand up against the NRA and if your courage falters, then you can remember the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am sure that will be inspiration enough.

Yours sincerely,

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