The Sandy Hook school massacre hit me hard. It seems to have hit everyone pretty hard. So many innocent children lost at once, so suddenly and randomly…the pointlessness of it, the sense of helplessness…it’s tough to deal with.
I think of the parents who lost their children — the kids who walked out the door on an ordinary day, never to return — and I don’t want to let my kids go. Not to school, not anywhere. I want to keep them here, safe with me. Yet we can’t opt out of life. They have to go to school, I have to go to work, and we have to do all the mundane things as usual, even though none of it feels usual anymore.
I’m afraid for my kids. I’m afraid of what’s happening to the human race. Guns aren’t a new thing — the ability to grab a “high capacity” firearm and go on a killing spree has existed for nearly 150 years — so why is it that now we spawn so many who purposefully target the most innocent and vulnerable, and see random killing and high body counts as a ticket to fame and glory? (As for fame, or infamy at least, the media makes damn sure these psychos get their share.) I don’t know how long a society can go on like this before everything unravels.
Meanwhile the loudest public voices…the ones that are pushing government to do something…they’re nearly all pushing for the wrong thing. It’s starting to look like fear and moral panic will win the day.
So for the first time ever, I decided I had to write my congressional representatives. If they’re going to do something, someone needs to remind them what the right thing is.
Here’s what I’m telling them. I hope you’ll tell your representatives the same thing. Even if you think I’m wrong, at least think about it.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre, calls are being made for stricter gun control. As a parent of young children, I share the grief and horror that all parents feel in the wake of an act so unfathomably evil. I’m worried about the future and I want to ensure my children’s safety.
That’s why, as a voter in your state, I’m asking you to vote against any new gun control legislation.
National media figures and anti-gun groups alike are playing on public fear, saying that restricting guns and gun owners will prevent more deaths. They are wrong. They’re also saying that so-called assault rifles are too deadly to have any sporting purpose, too dangerous to use for self-defense, and are made for the sole purpose of indiscriminate killing. This too is wrong.
I’ve heard some pundits say the Second Amendment is an anachronism that doesn’t apply in light of modern technology. Technology has changed the way Americans exercise their First Amendment rights even more than the Second, yet no one would seriously propose that the framers of the Constitution intended freedom of speech, assembly, and religion to apply only as long as the people used 18th century technology.
The so-called assault weapons under consideration are technologically advanced firearms. They’re modular, made to be adapted to different calibers and uses without complex tools. The AR-15 and similar rifles (including the Bushmaster model the madman used in Newtown) may look like military rifles, but they aren’t machine guns or automatic weapons; they fire one bullet with one pull of the trigger, just like everything else in the civilian firearm market. They’re also highly accurate and precise, suitable for hunting, sport shooting, and self-defense.
In short, they’re not “assault weapons,” they’re utility rifles. The fact that a madman used one doesn’t change their nature or their purpose. They’re designed to do the same kinds of things that rifles — from muskets and Kentucky flintlocks to lever-action cowboy rifles and bolt-action rifles — have always done. I don’t own or plan to buy one, but I know there’s good reason why AR-style utility rifles are currently the most popular type of rifle in America.
Furthermore, firearms of all types are vital tools of self-defense. For every madman that perpetrates a mass killing like those at Aurora or Sandy Hook, there are thousands — perhaps millions — of peaceful people who are alive and whole because they were able to defend themselves with a gun. The best research available puts the total number of defensive gun uses at somewhere between 1.4 million and 2.5 million per year.
If only 1% of those 1.4 million uses prevented a murder, that’s 14,000 lives saved — children among them.
This is why we need to defend our schools instead of leaving them defenseless.
Connecticut’s already restrictive gun laws didn’t prevent this madman from finding a rifle. Laws against bringing guns into schools didn’t prevent him from using it against the children in Sandy Hook school. Nor will new restrictions — whether on “assault weapons” or high-capacity magazines — prevent the next fame-seeking lunatic from finding a gun somewhere (any gun), invading another school (or any gun-free zone), and shooting as many helpless victims as he pleases.
Far from making schools safe, such laws only guarantee that anyone deranged enough to kill children will find no opposition.
The one thing that always stops these mass shooting incidents is armed resistance—and the perpetrator usually surrenders or suicides without even firing at the armed responders. Allowing every willing adult in the school to get safety/proficiency certification and discreetly carry a gun could save many lives. We already know teachers are willing to sacrifice their lives for the children in their care. Condemning them to helpless martyrdom is an outrage.
Many teachers would embrace the opportunity to actively defend themselves and their students — our children. We should at least allow them the chance.
Passing restrictive gun laws now, in a country that already has 100 million-plus gun owners and 300 million-plus firearms, would only punish millions of peaceful people for the actions of a handful of isolated lunatics.
Please oppose the gun control legislation that’s being introduced now. Instead, recognize the fundamental right of all people to act in their own self-defense—as guaranteed by the Second Amendment—and support legislation that expands our ability to protect our schools and our children.
Thanks for listening.
 Kleck, Gary and Marc Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime: the Prevalence and Nature of Self-defense with a Gun,” Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 86(1):150-187 (1995). This is the most widely accepted estimate of defensive gun use numbers. A summary of Kleck’s scholarship on guns and violence, as well as a list of publications, can be found at http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/p/faculty-gary-kleck.php. Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, in “Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms,” National Institute of Justice Research in Brief, (May 1997), discuss the differing estimates and disagree with Kleck and Gertz, saying 108,000 per year is a more likely number. Even with that low number, lives saved by defensive uses certainly outnumber lives taken by deranged spree killers. The balance tips even further in favor of guns as defensive tools when factoring in other violent crimes that were stopped.
 Farago, Robert, “Question of the Day: Do Magazine Capacity Limits Limit Lethality?” The Truth About Guns (December 2012). Source: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/12/robert-farago/question-of-the-day-do-magazine-capacity-limits-limit-lethality/. For an example of defensive gun use preventing a mass murder—coincidentally the same week as the Sandy Hook school shooting—see “Clackamas Mall Shooter Faced Man with Concealed Weapon,” KGW News Channel 8, Portland. Source: http://www.kgw.com/news/Clackamas-man-armed-confronts-mall-shooter-183593571.html.