Isn’t ‘20 Children and 6 Adults’ Enough?

What will it take for reasonable conversation about changes to our gun culture? Patch columnist Heather Borden Herve asks if the number of Newtown’s dead is finally reason to say, “Enough.”

I’m tired of the rhetoric, from all sides. I’m tired of the pro-gun statistic fight against the anti-gun statistic fight. 

There comes a point where ‘this’ quote citation to defend constitutional originalism and ‘that’ quote citation to defend constitutional interpretation is basically like arms buildup. I’ll see your statistic and absolute proof that the Founding Fathers wanted us to keep our guns, and I’ll raise you my statistic and historically empirical evidence that they never could have imagined semi-automatic, rapid-firing reloading guns in the hands of citizens!

Quite honestly, I can’t decide if I’ve intentionally used that ‘arms buildup’ pun or not. Because I just don’t know what makes it through the rhetorical barrage anymore.

On each side, we find our numbers and quotes to defend our position and we’ll continue having the same argument unless we say, “Enough.”

Can we consider the possibility that a document that is almost 226 years old might need us to legitimately reconsider the context of 2013 when figuring out how to move forward? Can we consider that the unfathomable slaughter of 20 children and 6 adults in a school, a place once considered a safe haven, is a price too high to pay to ignore that?

Because while we may debate the certainty of what the framers of the Constitution really did want when it comes to the Second Amendment, what I think we can all agree on with absolute certainty is that the individuals who wrote it did respect thoughtful consideration, reasonable debate, and discussion without absolutist decree. If they were content with failure to change, we never would have had found ourselves independent of England’s rule to begin with.

The closest thing I’ve found to even begin to approach reasonable discussion about the gun rights debate is an article in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg — a link to which was posted in one of the 110-plus comments of a Wilton Patch article I wrote last week about a local group that met with state legislators to talk about the issue. (I’m sure the reader who made the comment and link will be surprised that I’m citing it here, as he and I stand, by and large, on opposite sides of the debate.)

The Atlantic piece asserts that there are steps which could be taken to reduce access to guns and ammunition “for the criminially minded, for the dangerously mentally ill and for the suicidal, and that measures could be taken that sensibly restrict access to weapons and ammunition that “have no reasonable civilian purpose, and their sale could be restricted without violating the Second Amendment rights of individual gun owners.” However, he concludes, these efforts would be noble but “too late” to have any meaningful impact on the rate of gun violence.

He writes that it’s too late because of the number of guns — 280 to 300 million — in private hands in this country.

While I disagree with much of what the Atlantic writer asserts — from an emotional standpoint — I have to give the writer credit for speaking to experienced people around the country on both sides’ frontlines of the gun discussion: victims of gun violence, researchers, law enforcement officers, gun enthusiasts, and lobbyists and activists.

It’s a step toward acknowledgement of what each side believes; it concedes that each side has some ground, at the very least; and it starts to establish a foundation for how pro and con advocates might be able to stop ramming each other and start listening, if not conceding, to each other, “You’ve got a point.”

I acknowledge that I tend to come at this issue from my own, emotional perspective. Even this opinion column has to take a side, by definition, if not just by its headline. But the emotional arguments of gun-control crusaders that get belittled by the gun-rights activists are just as outsized as the fear-mongering assertions made by those same extreme gun-rightists meant to stop anti-gun advocates in their tracks.

But I suspect there are plenty of people in the middle who would like to figure out a way to move toward this rational discussion about how some changes can be made.

Haven’t we had enough of the killings to try? I guess not when some people think we don’t have enough guns, as if the solution to gun violence is more guns. Or that it’s too late to do anything about it because there are too many guns out there already, so why try anything at all?

We can keep headed the wrong way down the road, where more deaths are sure to happen, and just continue going the wrong way because we’ll eventually get to where we need to go. The world is round so all we have to do is circle the globe, we’ll get there eventually. But by then, there won’t be enough of us left on either side who say, “Enough.”

The Atlantic piece ends with Goldberg writing about gun-control advocate Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign, who asked, “’In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?’ Do we want to live in one ‘in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?’” Goldberg adds that in a nation with 300 million guns, it’s an irrelevant question.

That’s exactly why my initial question — “Isn’t ‘20 Children and 6 Adults’ Enough?” — needs to be seen as anything but irrelevant. It’s become the most relevant question of all.

Stoptheinsanity January 14, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I agree with Paul Alexander...ban tenure, not guns!!
Veritas vos liberabit January 14, 2013 at 02:51 PM
stoptheinsanity - "You should check your facts. I believe he is a democrat and supported Obama." Is that so mr. firsttimeposter? do you mind telling us where you get your "facts"? A web address (other than a right wing looney site) will do, thanks .
Stoptheinsanity January 14, 2013 at 05:44 PM
McMurphy: "Mr. firsttimeposter"?! Thank you for the laugh and for telling on me with the Patch because I disagree with your approach! Let's see if they will allow this post. Please don't run for public office (although you seem perfectly suited to it with your one-sided opinions)
Stoptheinsanity January 14, 2013 at 05:46 PM
And to clarify...I would also like to see him removed from the faculty at FAU as he has demonstrated extreme irresponsibility as an educator and have expressed my views directly to the administration at FAU, along with my entire family. But, he has put forth conspiracy theories against every administration, republican or democrat and to condemn an entire party or state because of one man's wreckless comments is ignorant and furthers a destructive, NOT CONSTRUCTIVE environment!!
Sheila January 14, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Why not finish the investigation in Sandy Hook, this is all a side show. Ablechild.org prayers go out to the moms that appeared before the cameras today endorsing a lobbying group that is at best supported fully by special interest money. Next we shall see these poor victimized moms and dads featured on the national media stage surely, The View or better bet Anderson Cooper. It is important to ask why the State of Connecticut is hold off on finishing and releasing the information the public needs in order to make a fully informed decision regarding legislation. Ablechild.org understands Adam's brother has file probate papers in regards to the Estate of his mother. The Courant reports that no probate papers were filed for Adam. The Courant needs to be a bit more specific, no probate estate papers regarding estate, that would be obvious considering Adam is dead. However, is the Courant reporting that there were no papers filed to commit Adam in Probate Court, which would be a different form and a different Court process. The reporter should really clear that up. In addition, the Courant should report on if the mom's blood was taken for a toxicology report as well. The Courant describes the type of death arrangement that were made for the mom, but was a toxicology screen done?


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