The gun-control issue: Avoid knee-jerk reaction
“To everything there is a season: a time to plant and a time to harvest; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Now is a time to mourn.
This is not the time to yell at one another in partisan bickering. The last thing the people in Newtown need right now is to turn on their TV or radio or open their newspaper to hear anti-gunners and pro-gunners yelling at each other over gun control. What they need is a time to mourn and heal.
As the father of three children, I pray for God’s blessing and healing grace upon the entire Newtown community.
I’m amazed at the number of gun control proponents that are coming forward and saying, “Now, we need to get serious about the gun control conversation.” I don’t know where they have been for the past 236 years, but the gun control debate has been ongoing since the foundation of our nation.
Regrettably, politicians in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., have rushed to take advantage of a community’s tragedy to pursue a political agenda, introducing measures to further restrict access to firearms for law-abiding citizens. Too often, there is a wrongheaded, knee-jerk reaction to rush and pass new laws.
I think we must consider the consequences of such quick action; we have many examples that clearly demonstrate that the problem is not with the law-abiding citizen. We must not let emotion and hysteria overshadow the facts as we start the gruesome process of sorting through the details of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. We must home in on the sad truth of the situation – no law or series of laws could ever have prevented this tragedy. This kind of evil respects no law, nor any code of civilized society.
As the governor of Connecticut said, “Evil has come to our town today.”
During the ban in the 1990s on semi-automatic rifles (the so-called assault weapons) and high-capacity magazines, U.S. crime did not go down. Reinstituting such a law only gives people a false sense of security and only serves to make politicians feel better, but it will not prevent another tragedy. A failed policy of the past will not suddenly become a success in the future. We can blanket our communities with “gun-free” zones, but until we can keep evil out, too – they will be useless.
While healthy debate is what our country is founded upon, gun control should not be the only topic of conversation. We can and must strengthen the laws and enhance the penalties for those persons who illegally possess a firearm or who illegally supply a firearm. Gun ownership is a fundamental right and a profound responsibility, and those who violate our laws must be held accountable.
We also must have the courage to have the debate over mental illness – to allow parents the ability and opportunity to access information about their children’s health, and to allow for consideration of a patient’s record when making determinations in court-ordered treatment.
In the face of dramatic evil, it is easy to focus on that evil, but in contrast we have also been blessed with several pictures of the triumphant goodness of the human nature. There was only one perpetrator and one act of evil, but several acts of heroism and selflessness. As a society, we have to come to the realization that we cannot legislate error, stupidity or evil. In the course of the human experience, these are going to happen.
The gun control debate in America will continue just as it always has since the Constitution was written. However, today we, as neighbors and fellow countrymen, have a responsibility to the victims and survivors to maintain decorum and a voice of reason, calm, comfort and hope. No amount of political rhetoric or blaming is going to return one of these precious souls. Our prayer today needs to be hopeful that they are in a better place where God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. And our prayer for those left behind should be that they will recover and carry-on. America remains the hope of the world, let us all remember our collective goodness and provide a nurturing environment for our countrymen to heal.
Assemblyman Brian Jones, Republican Caucus Chairman, represents the 71st Assembly District, which includes eastern San Diego County communities, including Alpine, Borrego Springs, El Cajon, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, Santee and Spring Valley.