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Do something for them

Last week’s tragedy in Connecticut brings in its wake widespread sorrow and compassion, and deep concern on the part of sensible people about a situation that seems out of control, without a solution.

Following the massacre in Connecticut there’s also been an outpouring of the same old responses, reiterations of unworkable and, in some cases, flat-out stupid utterances regarding gun violence. When an incident renders the harsh reality of gun violence in the U.S. unmistakable, extremists on both sides of the issue spout nonsense for all to hear.

Gun nuts go ballistic, worried their safety-pacifiers and manly parts will be taken from them, that they will be left in a fear-struck universe without their arsenals. They will not, or cannot, understand there are remedial moves available to make it difficult for crazy folks to procure military-style, high-powered assault weapons and copious amounts of ammunition. They do not see that workable waiting periods and effective background checks for purchase of firearms will not cancel their right to bear arms. They do not understand that tight regulation of weapons sales at gun shows and on the Internet will not impede the ability of honest, law-abiding citizens to buy and keep arms. They don’t agree that well-written bans on assault weapons, high-capacity clips and ammunition designed to pierce armor and do maximum damage to humans can lessen the probability of another Newtown occurring. The one thing government can do in addition to enacting legislation of these sorts — a voluntary buy-back program for assault weapons and ammunition — is beyond their comprehension.

Gun control freaks likewise go off the cliff. Those who advocate for a comprehensive ban on firearms are not in touch with this country’s history, or with a fundamental Constitutional right. Nor are they in touch with the fact that ridding the U.S. of firearms is impossible, and undesirable. Law-abiding American adults must be able to own firearms. Assault weapons and cop-killing ammunition, no. Hunting rifles, handguns for protection, yes.

Despite claims a reasoned approach is impossible, we believe it is not, and we hope the Connecticut slaughter prompts movement in that direction. It is time legislators grow up and face this situation, striking a median approach that helps make the Newtowns, Columbines, Auroras and Virginia Techs a rarity.

What also concerns us, however, is the undercurrent of violence we believe feeds unbalanced individuals who go on to massacre others. There is a profitable culture of violence in America that now affects nearly every young person in the country to some degree. Any bets about what kinds of material and information were favored by the Newtown killer?

As a result, those of us who defend First Amendment rights must also come to some hard realizations —notably that our claim that every adult should read and watch what he or she desires has a nasty side to it. Watched any video games lately, games that reward the player who kills the most characters in the most violent fashion? Checked out the pornography on the Internet, with its violence against women and children, that any computer-savvy individual (read: Americans over age 6) can access? What about violence in sports? What about television shows that champion the mundane, glorify the vile, the shameful, the hateful?

We need to clear our heads and think in new ways about gun rights, about free speech and expression. It’s going to take mature individuals who understand the gravity of the fact that 20 babies who were dreaming of Christmas and were loved by their families are no longer here — for very clear reasons. We must do something for these children, and for all our children.

Karl Isberg

This story was posted on December 20, 2012.