Compassion, not control, is the answer to gun violence

“Knotted Gun”
“Knotted Gun” sculpture, by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik is displayed in front of United Nations building

The knee-jerk reaction to any tragedy is to enact another law. There’s no greater proof of this than the stacks of statutes, cases and legal treatises comprising any modern, well-appointed law library. “There oughta be a law” soon yields yet another addition to an attorney’s library.

The murder of 27 people – including 20 first-graders — in Newtown, Conn., Friday is no different.

Before the first tiny body was removed from Sandy Hook Elementary School, the White House received a petition demanding that President Obama “immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.” As of this writing it has over 140,000 signatures. It reads:

The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.

Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution’s intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve.

The signatures on this petition represent a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.

Also on Friday, the president said that the Newtown events would require some “meaningful action.” His implication, many believe, was the need for stricter gun control.

In commenting on the tragedy, Attorney General Eric Holder used phrases like, “we have to ask ourselves some hard questions,” and “we need to … talk about the freedoms that we have, the rights that we have and how those might be used in a responsible way.” It was obvious where he was heading — the necessity for stricter gun laws.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., was more outspoken. He came right out and said that the president should “exploit” the tragedy.

In the hours after the ugly news broke, the Twitterverse also lit up with yet more demands for gun control legislation, up to and including an outright ban on all handguns. CNN host Piers Morgan tweeted: “This is America’s Dunblane. We banned handguns in Britain after that appalling tragedy. What will the U.S. do? Inaction not an option.”

Dunblane, Scotland, was the scene of a 1996 school massacre. What Morgan failed to mention is that, while it’s true that the incident led to an outright ban on handguns, in the seven years after the ban, firearm offenses more than doubled.

Expecting criminals and the mentally ill to obey a firearm ban would be akin to expecting a deer to obey “Deer Crossing” signs. It’s not going to happen.

That’s not to say we don’t have a serious problem, We do, and the problem is rooted in an ill society.

Two days after the Sandy Hook massacre, a Newtown Catholic church had to be evacuated of mourners due to a bomb threat.

Westboro Baptist Church members besiege mourners at military funerals with hateful chants.

Gangs of young thugs think nothing of beating the homeless within an inch of their lives. A homeless man even threw another man in front of a speeding subway train without remorse recently because, he said, “he started it.”

We shed crocodile tears for the disadvantaged and won’t lift a finger to help. After an expectant mother goes through a late-term or even partial-birth abortion, we congratulate and sympathize with the mother and think nothing of the life draining out of the bloody child.

In short, it’s not the guns that are sick — it’s our societal values. And until they are healed and set right-side up, all the gun legislation in the world isn’t going to make things good again.


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