To begin, what happened yesterday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, with twenty-eight dead at the time of writing, was an atrocity rarely paralleled in recent American history. Yesterday was the closing scene in what has been a heart-wrenching year for communities all across the United States, communities like Aurora, Portland, Oakland, North Miami, Seattle, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and too many others. And now, Newtown, Connecticut. Words are unable to describe the horrors of civilian death-especially the cold-blooded murder of twenty innocent children. The Wall Street Journal provided a simple response to the tragedy: “This is the one unthinkable event.” In the coming days, many Americans will choose to cope by watching the news obsessively, digesting every new fact about the shooter and his victims. Yet, others will choose to turn off the television, to hide themselves from the disturbing coverage. And it is easy to see why. Already, there are those in the political sphere and in the activist community who are trying to use this event as a means to an end. While Americans are still grieving, these people are preparing their new TV ads and rallies and slogans for the upcoming battle about gun rights and gun control. Shame on them. However, the debate cannot be postponed forever, and it is a discussion that Americans need to have. Can we truly be a civilized nation when our laws allow massacres like this to take place? Yet, could we still remain a free people if our ability to defend ourselves was restricted legislatively? On one end, Democrats want restrictions on some firearms, and Republicans are largely divided on the issue. Where then are moderates to go? This article, rather than advocate one particular policy, will examine the gun debate, and its relationship to the state of the Union.
Either there aren’t strong-enough gun control laws, or they just don’t work. The shooting in Connecticut demonstrates this idea. How could the most deadly elementary school shooting in U.S. history take place with some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation? Therefore, the American public should be wary of anyone who tries to use the Newport tragedy as a bullet point for either side.
To say that the nation needs to do some soul-searching would be an understatement. To restrict the inevitable dialogue to only gun control legislation would be narrow-minded. There are a variety of challenges facing this nation. How do we keep guns out of the wrong hands? How do we build a society where violence is less frequent? While I honestly don’t know the answers to those questions, I do know this: If D.C . policymakers play politics-as-usual with the Newtown tragedy, then America will never get the answers that it needs so desperately.