Imagine

How many times have you heard the phrase ‘Peace on Earth’ this time of the year? I am sure I will hear someone sing or recite those three words between now and New Year’s Eve. John Lennon sang:

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace”

Imagine the two beliefs people have formed through the ages – nationalism and religion – just things of the past like the extinct caveman extinct, now dead and buried never to rise up out of the ashes. It is easy to do, John Lennon said; it’s easy to imagine a world without violence but such a hard concept for some to wrap their heads around.

America is mourning the loss of 26 souls taken in a national tragedy and quietly another 595 or so families around the country will be experiencing the same loss as the victim’s families in Newtown, Connecticut as they recover from tragic affects of America’s unwillingness to face the cold deadly fact: there are too many readily available guns in America. One estimate is a gun for every American, or roughly 350 million weapons in America today.

The NRA spent $17 million dollars in their attempt to defeat President Obama, and they’ve announced that they will make a statement about the Newtown killings. They say they are willing to a make a meaningful contribution toward ending the type of violence that took place last week. What they will say is anyone’s guess.

I have heard school administrators and other teachers say we should arm teachers and that would prevent another Newtown-like situation. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas even wished the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School had her own assault rifle so she could have taken out the killer.

Adding more guns is not the answer. In Scotland and Australia automatic weapons were banned after mass shootings they have not had a recurrence of the tragedies America continues to face. Over 85 people a day in America die by gun violence either by suicide or by murder –the highest number of any other country not at war.

A friend sent me a picture of a car decal she saw on the back of a minivan. You probable have seen something like what I saw on the back of a van or SUV; stick figures depicting a Dad, Mom, boy, girl and dog. The shocking, very disturbing picture was just a little different;  the characters in this picture had various sizes of automatic weapons above them. Ironically, the stick figure boy’s gun looks like the gun used by the killer in Newtown. The family that shoots together, stays together, I guess. What is disturbing about the picture was the automatic weaponry. The idea parents would let children handle automatic weapons is beyond my belief system, and that right there is the rub.

I heard conservative pundits claim shooter video games were the cause of violent massacre at Newtown, Connecticut. They’ve also assumed that the shooter was suffering from Asperger’s Syndrom, autism and many other reasons for the carnage – but not one has said anything about automatic weapons of mass destruction. Canada has white boys who play shooter games and some even may have some neurological problems, but Canada does not have anywhere close to the level of mass violence as America.

The weapon used in the Sandy Creek Elementary School shooting is the same type of weapon used by our military and by armies around the world. It is not used in hunting, and any hunter will tell you it serves no purpose but to kill another human. President Obama has called on Americans to understand the country cannot continue to stand for another Newtown. The time is now for serious automatic weapon bans such as the type enacted in the U.K. and Australia.

Many people disagree on this issue. A person on Twitter told me she is not a criminal,  she has the right to own a gun and the people of other countries can do what they want but this is America so she will own a gun if she want to. Yes, Americans have the right to own guns, but it is obvious the people of Scotland and Australia care more about their children than they do for the right to own a weapon of mass distruction.

America has many choices to be made, so many paths to take as we move through the 21 century, desperately trying to shed our 20th century ways. The debate over the right to bear arms has been ranging in this country since the middle of the last century and we as a country have moved so far to the right on this issue that the NRA is now one of the most powerful lobbyist associations in the land. With only 4 million members they have controlled the dialog or lack thereof, for the last 30 years. The NRA represents gun manufacturers and is not your grandfathers NRA. This NRA works for companies that sell death not just in this country but around the world.

I do not want to see another Newtown and I certainly do not want to experience its devastation. There are reasonable gun control measures that can still maintain gun owner’s rights and preserver the rights of every American and the great good for all.  One measure would be the ban on all weapons that require a clip to load its ammunition, the type of ban used in Scotland and Australia where mass shootings, especially at schools, have stopped.

The second measure to stop the flood of weapons on the streets of America is the banning of all gun sales at flea markets and gun shows. You want to buy a gun it has to be from a licensed gun dealer in a brick and mortar gun shop.

The last two measures that are reasonable and not intrusive of any one’s rights are 30 day waiting periods and background checks made by a real person with an interview by a law enforcement officer with the power to send the applicant to a court for review and final approval.

The American people have to make a decision: are we going to live in the 21 century or are we going to live in the Wild West. I can imagine a land without guns. Can you? It’s easy if you try.