(This is a letter to the editor of a local paper that I just had published. I'd written it in response to another letter claiming liberals were exploiting the tragedy of Sandy Hook. Although I used some of the arguments in the original letter, I think mine is self-explanatory enough to be posted here.)
I read Mr. Niggemeyer's letter entitled "Liberals are exploiting this tragedy" with astonishment. Mr. Niggemeyer tells us in his letter what he believes. I have no doubt that he believes what he says, but people believe many things that are not true. Now, I too, want to make a few comments in response.
The words "assault weapon" are not meaningless. A weapon is a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage. To add the adjective "assault" in front of weapon implies an offensive attack weapon. In short, a weapon used for war. They have no place in the hands of anyone not charged with a military mission, in my view.
The students and staff that lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary had not joined a gang, or sold drugs, nor were hanging out where drugs are sold. They didn't rob small business owners, or shoot at the police. Yet they were ripped apart by bullets designed to do just that, coming from an assault weapon in the hands of a man. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," the NRA leadership tells us. How? With guns. When was the last mass bludgeoning in the US? Did I miss it?
This is not a liberal versus conservative or Republican vs. Democrat issue. This is a public safety issue that is long overdue for serious and comprehensive consideration. As terrible as it feels to say it, an incident like that at Sandy Hook was inevitable. It was made inevitable because repeatedly, we collectively failed to make any reasonable, commonsense responses to those mass shootings that preceded Sandy Hook.
We threw up our hands helplessly and told ourselves that nothing could be done. "These were isolated incidents by crazed gunmen," we told ourselves. The fact that they happen with disturbing regularity and with similar types of weapons seemed lost on us. No more.
I am standing up and speaking out for reasonable gun safety that is completely in accord with the Second Amendment. Join me. As a long time gun owner, I would be entirely comfortable with legislation modeled after the New York state changes that were just signed into law on Wednesday. I certainly don't need more people (of any age) to die before I realize that serious action needs to be taken. Hopefully, you don't either.