We are told that guns in the hands of “law-abiding citizens” are a good thing. We are told that guns in the hands of “law-abiding citizens” will help combat crime. We are told that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people”. A 9-year-old girl, Kimberly Reylander, was shot and killed by her 3-year-old brother last Monday. Both Kimberly and her brother were “law-abiding citizens”. The 3-year-old did not have any criminal record and Kimberly was not a crook, not a burglar, was doing nothing more than playing at her grandfather’s house where a loaded gun was carelessly left in an unlocked drawer.
Tonight, as I write this post, we are exactly 43 days into 2016, and already there have been five incidents of people injured by toddlers firing guns. FIVE IN 43 DAYS! (The Washington Post, 14 October 2015) In 2015 there were 43 such incidents where a toddler age 3 or under injured another person by shooting a gun. I do not care what your politics are, republican or democrat. I do not care about your religion … Christian, Muslim, Jewish or atheist. I do not care if you are Caucasian, African-American, Asian or Native American. I do not care if you are male or female, gay or straight. Whoever you are, wherever you live, you must be horrified, you must be saddened, you must certainly agree that this is a terrible, tragic, and preventable statistic.
The toddler who shot and killed Kimberly Reylander was not a criminal and neither was his grandfather, who owned the gun. They were “law-abiding citizens”. Neither of them intended to be responsible for taking the life of a little girl. But it happened. Kimberly is dead, her grandfather will regret that he ever bought that gun and will grieve for the rest of his life, and the 3-year-old boy will live with the memory of that moment in time, forever etched in his mind, haunting every hour of the rest of his life. And this is acceptable risk to the NRA and its followers because … they have interpreted the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment to mean that everyone is entitled to own guns.
The “gun issue” should not be a partisan issue. It is made so only by politicians, the NRA and fully grown “little boys” who want their “toys”. It is truly a humanitarian issue, and it is high time we treated it as such. I do not address this from a political point of view, but rather a humanitarian one. Republicans and Democrats alike must listen to the voice of reason, must take steps working together to reduce the unnecessary gun-related deaths in the U.S. I will not throw statistics at you … I have done that before and you can look them up yourself: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/14/people-are-getting-shot-by-toddlers-on-a-weekly-basis-this-year/?tid=a_inl. But I will address the issue and I will continue to do so as long as we continue to deny that there is a very real and fixable problem in this nation.
Yes, we are told that guns in the hands of “law-abiding citizens” are a good thing. What, exactly, does that mean? Who are the “law-abiding citizens” and how do we recognize them? Yes, certainly we can weed some people out with background checks. Background checks that are only reliable if they are actually performed and performed before the person actually has the gun in hand. Sadly, the law falls far short of what is needed to keep guns out of the hands of those with felony convictions or known domestic abusers. Often the background checks fail to do what they are supposed to. And in the final analysis, even if implemented to the full letter of the law, they are only going to prevent a small portion of gun-related deaths and injuries, as a background check would not likely have prevented any of those 43 toddlers from firing guns last year and it certainly did not prevent the death of young Kimberly Reylander.
We are also told that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people”. Verbiage. That is all it is … verbiage. Yes, people kill people and they use all sorts of tools to do so … knives, machetes, fists, guns, bombs, poison, and the list goes on. The only thing on that list that is readily available and kills large numbers of people with minimal effort are guns. People kill more people with guns than with all the other tools combined. Given a choice, I would gladly face someone armed with a knife rather than a gun.
The argument is frequently made that “cars kill people, but we don’t ban them”. This is also true, but again, it is verbiage. A license to drive a car requires that the driver prove both competence and knowledge of the law. Gun ownership requires neither. Almost all automobile accidents are just that … accidents. People do not get into their cars, as a rule, and set out with the intention of causing bodily harm or death to other people. Plus, automobiles are a necessity in today’s world. Guns are not. People need automobiles to go to work, to buy food, to visit doctors, to live their lives. Guns only take lives.
I know that some who are reading this post will already have your hackles raised and be ready to argue against every single point I made. Don’t bother. I am generally open to hearing all opinions and I try to treat serious opinions with serious consideration. I am not perfect, but I am most always fair. But in this matter, there can be no logical argument. Guns must be far more strictly regulated in this nation, as they are in nearly every other nation in the world. Most Europeans and people from other nations that I talk to are aghast at the free-for-all that is our gun policy. Instead of arguing with me, call the family of Kimberly Reylander down in Alabama and tell them how important your “right” to own guns is. As I see it, those who are not willing to be a part of the solution are not just a part of the problem, they are the problem.