Take A Look In The Mirror
Drawing the Right Lessons from Newtown
Let me start with a couple of caveats.
First, I am not a particular gun enthusiast. I was taught to shoot as a boy by my father, and we had numerous firearms in the house at all times. I served as a combat arms officer in the Army and learned to operate a wide range of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. I spent twenty years in the CIA and for many years carried a weapon on my hip or my ankle every waking moment. I own several weapons, and I shoot often enough to maintain proficiency.
Still, guns are nothing but tools to me, and tools I hope not to use. Second, I am not opposed to reasonable measures to control the sale and licensing of firearms. I think the reality of our modern society is such that we need to accept such restrictions, and I do not see any inherent conflict between such controls and the right to bear arms. I know that the gunfight at the OK corral in Tombstone was precipitated by Wyatt Earp's insistence on enforcing a ban on the carrying of firearms in Tombstone, Arizona. We have understood the necessity to manage the power of guns for a long time.
Having said all that, the demands being made for an assault weapons ban in the wake of the horrific Newtown, Connecticut shooting strike me as completely disingenuous. They may make people feel that they are doing something. They may provide an outlet for grief and anger. They have virtually nothing to do with what has just happened, and such a ban will not stop the epidemic of mass shootings plaguing our nation.
What happened at Newtown was unspeakable. I have been around death and conflict most of my adult life. Still the horror of the senseless shooting of helpless children was such that I found it almost impossible to bear to watch the news coverage of the event. The cause of this tragedy, however, was not a semi-automatic rifle, and a ban on the sale of such weapons would not have prevented it.