To the editor:
221—the number of years ago that the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution came into effect, giving American citizens legal rights to possess and use firearms. It was December 15, 1791. At that time, the United States was comprised of 14 states, still in their infancy. Land and other property needed to be protected as “civilization”, or civil living was only just developing in this new nation.
Canadians have much respect for their neighbours south of the 49th parallel. Since patching things up after the War of 1812, the US and Canada have neighboured each other harmoniously, sharing similar ideals under the umbrella of democracy. Still, differences have long existed within the two nations’ tapestries; differences in health care, military emphasis, and yes, laws that extend to the issue of gun possession and use.
With the most recent, senseless massacre having just occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, Canadians are quick to join billions of other people around the world in extending their sincere condolences to the families of the victims, along with America as a nation for yet another terrible tragedy having taken place within the United States.
As the media monster takes hold of this latest horrific event and covers/exploits every aspect of what happened and analyzes what might be done to prevent future similar tragedies, it is interesting to observe the wide-range of theories and opinions held by Americans. While many are holding the proliferation of mental illness accountable, others are pointing the finger of blame at America’s desensitization to violence in general. Clearly, there is validity in both these arguments; however, when the role of gun violence is introduced into the discussion, validity, clarity, and common sense all quickly become blurred.
Turn on the TV today and you will hear not only members of the NRA, but also regular, everyday people (some of them parents) in the US saying things like, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” and, “The government shouldn’t change gun laws and take the guns away from law-abiding, good people like us.” These statements reflect a present-day attitude and belief, sewn-in to the American tapestry 221 years ago, that the constitutional right to bear arms must be defended and upheld. An ABC legal “expert” boasted of his extensive experience investigating previous mass killings in the US while he shared his opinions on “The View” (Monday, December 17), saying that he felt the only sure-fire way of preventing these types of mass murders in the future is to put armed guards at every school and/or give guns to teachers.
Wow. As Canadians, upon hearing the widely held American sentiments mentioned in the previous paragraph, a flood of observations and feelings likely surface beyond the ever-present sadness for all the innocent lives that were taken in Connecticut. Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence. Generation after generation of American citizen has lived and breathed within a culture that celebrates the inclusion of lethal weapons within its fabric to the point where many have become oblivious to the destructive role that guns have played in the deterioration of American society. Give teachers guns? Place armed guards at every school? Do these “civilized”, “good” Americans hear what they are saying? Fight guns with more guns?
An addict must realize that the only way to truly reclaim good health and prosperity is by purging away the problem (whether it be drugs, alcohol, etc.). America needs a national intervention of epic proportions to realize that in stubbornly clinging to an out-dated law that was written in a different time and era 221 years ago, they are perpetuating their own slow demise through their complacent attitude towards violence; especially gun violence.
Sadly, there is a percentage of the population in every country around the world that suffers from mental illness. Sadly, Hollywood and the video game industry have played a significant role in desensitizing people to violence. Undoubtedly, a mixture of these two problems—a mentally ill person who becomes desensitized to violence and the surrounding world—is a recipe for disaster (as we have seen with these mass murderers).
Tragedies similar to that in Newtown have happened in Norway. They have happened in Great Britain and in Canada. They can happen anywhere in the world. But why is it happening most frequently in the United States? The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Canadians care about Americans. The civilized world cares about Americans. We are all human beings and therefore we care. It is because we care that we hope the United States can step back and realize: enough excuses – enough falling back on the constitution as a justification. You the people of the United States should be able to recognize in this modern era that enough is enough. The word amendment means an alteration, correction of faults, or improvement. Now is the time when the world, along with all victims of gun violence and their families beseech the United States to further amend its constitution so that the availability, amount and use of firearms are all reduced in the interest of peace.
America can amend its constitution. Even in doing so, with the amount of guns already present in the United States and the deep-seeded devotion that many Americans have to “gun culture”, the road to reduced gun violence in America will be long, bumpy and slow moving. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Americans should avoid that difficult road. As Robert Frost said,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
J. Durose, Kelowna