Jamal H. Khan: Is unlimited gun access worth a child's life?
By Jamal H. KhanEvery time there is a massacre with an automatic firearm, the same sequence of events is staged. After the initial shock and discussion of the prevalence of guns in our society and the ease with which they can be obtained, the outrage starts to fade and the gun lobby starts its defense of guns after lying low for a few days.This gains strength with each passing day. It reaches a crescendo as the massacre fades to the inside pages of the newspaper. Various "experts" appear on the radio and TV proclaiming how gun control does not work. They cite all the other reasons in the world for the tragedy except easy availability of deadly arms.As the victims' memory starts to fade the same old arguments about how "guns don't kill people" starts getting thrown in our faces. This time the NRA and their followers found another way to deflect the criticism.Possibly a serious analyst happened to mention mental illness as another cause. This was enough for gun-worshippers to place the entire blame on poor handling of mental illness. Just lock all of them up and everything will be fine.Such simplistic solutions are readily offered. No one asks how they propose to find and lock up all criminally insane people. Is there a barcode on their foreheads? Will all the families who happen to shelter one of these individuals be able to diagnose them and willingly turn them over to be locked up? And what of the deranged person who massacres a children's classroom as the first manifestation of his illness?Another solution offered is strict adherence to gun safety. All firearms are to be in locked cabinets. Yes, in a perfect world it will be a given. How are we to enforce this rule? And who is going to supply reliable safety cabinets to all?
What about the gun owner who thinks the only way to be safe is to keep a loaded shotgun under the mattress, as happened in the case of a child I treated? He was just having fun jumping up and down on the bed when the shotgun went off, creating a fist side hole in his chest wall. He survived, but he was spitting bone fragments from the wound a year later.The beautiful young girl who was accidentally shot through the neck was not as fortunate. The point is that no amount of drilling personal safety rules will stop these tragedies.The Second Amendment has more fanatical adherents than any divinely revealed religions. It was undoubtedly incorporated by the framers of the Constitution to make it easy to raise a citizen's army quickly should there be external aggression. The wording of the amendment can lead to only this conclusion. The intent of the amendment has been twisted badly out of shape. Now it is quoted for defense against home invasion as well as taking up arms against our own government. A citizens' army was a necessity at the time when militias were used. Now these modern day citizens think they can fight a modern army with the arsenal hidden in their homes. Why would this thought even arise if not for paranoia fed by extremist propaganda?It is amazing that glaring statistics from other developed countries with sensible gun policies are totally ignored by the gun lobby. They simply ignore the stark difference in gun mortality between other developed countries and the United States. If any comment is made by them it is mostly to show how the freedoms and culture of those countries are inferior. They almost crow about the fact that we have 50,000 gun deaths a year to a few hundred "only" elsewhere. Glaring examples such as that of Australia are pooh-poohed.I happened to listen to an interview of one of the vice-presidents of the NRA who was trying to make the point that people can also be killed without guns. He quoted the six or seven hundred deaths that resulted from beatings last year. I assume he said that with a straight face.The most objectionable part of the gun lobby's stance is the fact that they are not willing to listen to the most sensible proposals to avoid recurrence of Newtowns around the country. No one objects to guns for hunting and sport. But the NRA would have none of that. The citizens should be able to sling a bazooka on their shoulders if they want to and the schools should be turned into fortresses patrolled by armed guards. No doubt the American public will see through the propaganda by the gun lobby, which is only mounted to protect the pocketbook of gun manufacturers who have a lucrative monopoly.I would like to see those for sensible gun laws make it a mission to appear at each pro-gun rally with the pictures of the 20 children and their teachers to put things in perspective.I am still tortured to see the smiling, beautiful face of Emily with piercing blue eyes before me and my heart wants to burst. I can only pray that God grant her parents the strength to bear this sorrow throughout their lives. No "freedom" can demand such a high price!