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Friday, December 14, 2012

Never Let a Tragedy Go to Waste

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not here to rub salt in anyone's wounds. My intent is not to politicize a tragedy, rather to point out the fallacy being committed by those who are currently doing so.

This morning, tragedy struck a small town in Connecticut. A young man opened fire in an elementary school, killing at least 26 - one of whom was his own mother, and most of whom were small children.

As is wont to happen after such senseless tragedy, we look for answers. We ask ourselves, our families, our friends, and our leaders: How did this come about? How can we keep this from happening again?

The answer is simple: evil exists in this world because people insist on trying to push God out of it. The grace of God is the only thing that prevents you or me from being the shooter, our parents and children from being the victims. It is only by that same grace that those touched by today's tragedy will ever know peace.

But if you look at any social media site today, along with the prayers and condolences, you will see people making blanket statements about gun control. The artful Jay Carney brilliantly politicized the tragedy by stating that he was not going to politicize it...yet. The President hinted at it in his tearful address as well, claiming that meaningful action was needed - regardless of politics. (Read: the Republicans aren't going to like it, but I'm going to force them to do it anyway.)

What really got to me was the nastiness between friends over whether or not further gun restrictions could solve this problem. The reality is that, unless we tear up the Constitution, gun ownership is a right afforded to private citizens (provided they meet certain qualifications in most states, such as never being convicted of a violent crime) that the federal government has no justification to take away. Cities such as Chicago and Washington DC are shining examples of the results of strict gun legislation - they have some of the most stringent gun laws in the country, and they also have some of the highest rates of gun crimes. Why? Because if the only people who HAVE guns came by them illegally, why on earth should we expect them to not also USE said guns illegally? The contrast is seen in the small town of Kennesaw, Georgia: gun ownership there is mandated, and the town currently boasts one of the lowest per capita crime rates in the nation.

A few people made comments about the number of deaths caused by motor vehicles, and noted that no one was suggesting that we ban cars. The pat response to that was, "well, guns are made with only one purpose: to kill people. Cars are made for transportation, not for killing. They at least have a legitimate use." And that exchange got me thinking...

If we accept the premise that guns are made to kill people and cars are not, what happens when we look at the relevant data?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 40,000 Americans are killed by cars annually.

According to American gun violence statistics, in 2010 8,775 Americans were killed by firearms. And it should be noted that the number of Americans killed by firearms has consistently decreased annually since at least 1995.

The assessment then is that although cars are NOT made for the express purpose of killing people, they seem to be accomplishing that objective at a much greater rate than the firearms that supposedly ARE made for that purpose. I'm thinking that at the very least "but guns are made solely to kill people" is going to have to be replaced by an argument that makes a little more sense.

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