When a gunman with a weapon of war stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and gunned down 20 small children and six adults, many people thought our nation might finally come to its senses about gun violence.
But, no. Here we are, a decade later, and cold-blooded gunslingers continue to burst into cherished places of safety and kill and maim as many people as they can.
No one can go to school, to church, to work, to a concert, to a celebration, to a park or to a movie without fearing they suddenly will be targeted by a slaughterer wielding deadly weapons.
This unconscionable state of affairs was highlighted in by the Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles, who reported that the lawyers who helped strike down New York’s concealed carry law are now challenging Illinois’ new and sensible limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in an National Rifle Association-linked lawsuit. The Illinois State Rifle Association has filed its own federal lawsuit and others have been filed in state courts.
These callous attacks on the new Illinois law are occurring just as 18 people were killed this week in the California communities of Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. Just as a South Shore mother and her daughter were killed Monday afternoon in a shooting in which three others were wounded. Just as 12 people were injured in a mass shooting Monday inside a Baton Rouge lounge.
Is there any doubt that going to court to knock out gun laws designed to protect people will lead to more unnecessary deaths?
Why can’t we live in a society in which you can watch your loved ones walk out the door and not worry a bullet will end their lives before you see them again?
Why can’t we enjoy a meal at a restaurant and not worry someone in body armor might start shooting the place up?
What can’t we walk Chicago’s streets, sit on a porch or have a children’s birthday party without the risk of taking a stray bullet from someone shooting a gun? Just last weekend in Chicago, seven people were killed by gunfire and 26 others were wounded. On Monday, two more were killed and five more were wounded. Were gun deaths and injuries not so common, people would be shocked and astounded by such grim news.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2,937 people have already been killed by guns this year as of Wednesday. There have been 40 mass shootings.
Why do we sit by as the law is twisted to give gunmen the right to kill us? Why must we, as Americans with revered ideals that are the envy of the world, allow the forces of gun violence to see us as nothing more than potential fodder for their weapons?
Do our lives and health mean nothing more than that? Do some lawmakers, some high court justices and gun manufacturers not see how the under-regulated arsenal of firearms in the hands of those willing to use them grinds up lives?
America now has more guns than people. Has that made us safe? Or are people dying every day?
Let’s hope the courts finally come to their senses. When lawyers turn up to make arcane legal arguments that invite death, agony and the lifelong pain of loved ones left behind, let’s hope the courts begin to say, no, that is not what America is all about. Let’s hope lawmakers at every level seek sensible new laws that will continue to make it harder for people to shoot others with guns.
The flowers at countless improvised memorials have long since wilted and disappeared, and the lost voices they commemorated call to us. Maybe we as a nation did not come to our senses after Sandy Hook. But there is no reason we can’t do so now.
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