To the Editor:
I am responding to Kevin Dennis’ letter to the editor, “Gun Control Advocates Exploit Sandy Hook,” in the October 4th edition of The Bee. Mr Dennis’ premise is that there are individuals who, previous to the shooting at Sandy Hook, had some kind of agenda (he doesn’t say what that agenda might be), which they were able to advance by “capitalizing on the travesty of Sandy Hook.” If Mr. Dennis were to talk with many of those now involved in advocating for saner, common sense gun laws, he would find that his argument is flawed.
In fact Mr Dennis would find that most of us now working for solutions to the issue of gun violence in our country had no “agenda” concerning guns prior to December 14, 2012. We were going about our lives, oblivious to the number of gun deaths in our country and unaware of how ineffective our gun laws were at keeping our families safe. It was only after seeing the faces of the 20 beautiful children and six educators murdered that day at Sandy Hook that many of us woke up and took notice. We did not have an agenda that we used Sandy Hook to advance. Instead, we are now involved because Sandy Hook made us recognize that we have a problem of gun violence in this country.
Mr Dennis is correct in his assertion that mental health issues and illegal weapons must be addressed. I would support solutions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, increase resources for mental illness and prevent the spread of illegal weapons. However, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports that the US has over 30,000 gun deaths and 70,000 gun-related injuries each year. Mr Dennis’ attempt to reduce the problem to simply a “mental health” issue or an “illegal weapon” issue ignores many of these deaths and injuries and a complex problem which will require a myriad of solutions.
No matter how you measure it we have a problem of gun violence in the US. We have more guns and more gun deaths than any of the other industrialized countries to which we normally compare ourselves. It’s time we stop wrapping guns in the American flag and talking about “upstanding patriots” and start to address this problem. Our Constitution and our laws have never been static. Our legislatures have been modifying them and our courts interpreting them for over 200 years. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the Second Amendment, like all other constitutional rights, is not absolute. It is not unlimited and not without restriction.
One thing that makes our country great is the ability to take on tough challenges and solve difficult problems. The prevalence of gun violence is just such a problem. One of the most American and patriotic things we can do is make the necessary changes to our laws and our culture to reduce gun violence and make our streets, schools, malls and theaters safer for our families.
10 Crabapple Lane, Sandy Hook October 9, 2013