The following New York Times opinion piece by the editorial board appeared on the front page of the newspaper on Saturday, December 5. It is the first time an opinion has appeared on page 1 since 1920.
End the Gun Epidemic in America
It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.
All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.
But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.
It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.
Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.
But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.
It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.
Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.
What better time than during a presidential election to show, at long last, that our nation has retained its sense of decency?
There it is, folks. Absolutely something to think about.
I think my biggest resentment is that I do support 2nd amendment rights and I also agree for the most part with this opinion piece. Somehow, I am caught in the crossfire, if I might be so bold as to use that term, between supporting Americans’ right to bear arms and thinking that it is absolutely unconscionable that the average citizen can own guns that can blow away buildings and gut a full grown man like a fish in a matter of seconds.
Somewhere there has to be some sanity. Not everyone has what it takes to be able to use weapons of mass destruction in a safe way. Not everyone should qualify. I go back to my tiered system of gun ownership. Tier 1: Some people are excluded from gun ownership. Tier 2: All those who aren’t excluded will have access to these guns. Tier 3: There are certain guns that are deemed so dangerous in the wrong hands that Americans will have to qualify to own them.
Lastly, I believe its time to stop marginalizing those of us who aren’t in lock step with the NRA’s political machine. 37% of Americans own guns. Not all of us are in tune with the NRA. The more crap that comes out of the mouth of that organization by the likes of Ted Nugent and others like him, the further way the moderate gun owns will become.
At some point, Americans will get sick of these incidents and will start taking this issue to the polls. They haven’t yet but when they do, there will be a real problem.