September 17, 2013

Forget Background Checks - Only An Outright Ban On Guns Will Do

An entrance to the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

The earliest childhood memories I have are of the Washington Navy Yard, with the big houses comprising Admiral’s Row, and the bucolic setting on the Anacostia River.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the senseless violence, and the families of those who were murdered, as well as the brave and gallant Navy personnel who serve our country, and the men and women who work at the Navy Yard.

I was shocked and horrified by the Navy Yard massacre in Washington, DC. There were at least 13 people senselessly murdered, with many more injured.

When will our politicians grow a backbone and address gun violence?

When will the American people rise up in anger and demand that Congress take action to curb the violence?

Writing for The Washington Post, columnist Petula Dvorak asked “How can we tolerate another mass shooting?”
We’ve been here before so many times. And each time, we wonder whether this is the mass shooting that will finally wake us from our numb indifference. 
It didn’t happen after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, when a student unleashed an attack that left 32 dead and more than two dozen wounded. It didn’t happen after the Fort Hood shooting, when an Army psychiatrist opened fire on dozens of soldiers in 2009, killing 13 and injuring 30. It didn’t happen after the 2011 assault in Tucson that killed a federal judge and left then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) with brain damage. It didn’t happen after the most heartbreaking mass shooting of all: the one last year that took the lives of 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., as well as six others. 
We’ve gotten so used to mass shootings that we now tick off only the really big ones. The Oikos University shootings didn’t even register on the national radar. What? When? It happened at a Korean Christian college in Oakland, Calif., just last year. Seven of 10 people shot there died. 
And when these happen, we as a society want to be thorough and examine all the things wrong that led up to an explosion of rage articulated in shrapnel. 
There’s the lack of access to mental-health services. There’s the proliferation of violent video games. There’s unemployment and recession and the cruel death of the middle class. There is an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder from two wars and countless traumas. 
But people have become embittered or disgruntled or even murderously angry ever since we walked upright. 
There is a difference now: We have weapons readily available that can kill lots of people in a very short time, and we’ve woven the meme of mass shootings into the fabric of our society. 
Even after all those little first-graders were shot in their classroom in Newtown and Giffords gave many passionate and difficult speeches about gun control, Congress didn’t have the will to decide that killing machines — assault weapons — should be restricted in any way. 
Legally, we had a 10-year hiatus from them when the federal ban on assault weapons was enacted. But when it expired in 2004, our elected officials let it go.
A US Marine Corps honor guard stands at attention in Leutze Park, at the Washington Navy Yard, during a full honors ceremony.

Since the Newtown massacre, Congress has rebuffed every piece of legislation that would require more background checks. When it comes to background checks, I have to say that I have changed my opinion about them and agree with the National Rifle Association. Background checks are merely a band-aid, and requiring a more extensive review of a gun buyer’s background, seems pointless.

Americans need to be more radical, and we must demand that assault weapons be banned completely. There is no sane reason whatsoever for anyone outside of the US military, or law enforcement, to own an assault rifle. None.

Carrying a concealed weapon must be outlawed as well. We need to know who has a gun, and who is carrying guns. If someone wants to walk around with a gun, we should be able to see it.

President Obama and Vice President Biden have expended a tremendous amount of time and energy on this issue, and Congress merely shrugs their shoulders. This isn’t the President’s fault, it’s our fault for not screaming loud enough.

Congress must be held accountable for these senseless killings, and it’s time for Americans to flood Washington with phone calls now.

Ban the damn guns, and do what gun owners fear most. Ban and take away their assault rifles now, before it’s too late.

The time for decisive action is now!

One of the many cannons in Leutze Park at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, DC.

Full Disclosure: I despise gun violence, and that’s no secret to anyone who has read this blog before. I believe that hunters should be able to hunt with a hunting rifle, and I believe that target shooters and those who participate in marksmanship as a sport, should be able to do so. I think that “stand your ground” laws are a license to get away with murder, and I don’t believe that civilians should be able to walk around in public with a concealed weapon of any sort. Assault weapons and guns with large magazines should be the province of our military and law enforcement personnel only.
There’s no doubt that the Navy Yard massacre is personal for me. The earliest memories I have in life are of the Washington Navy Yard, Admiral’s Row, the Navy Band playing in the park, and running around on the quiet streets with my grandparent’s dog Crouton. I spent countless days playing in Leutze Park, climbing all over the many cannons.
My grandparent’s home was in the Washington Navy Yard for 8 years. I remember walking to Latrobe Gate, because Naval personnel were standing guard, and when I saluted them they always saluted me back, which was a thrill for a little kid. The fact that my Grandfather was an Admiral that everyone seemed to like, didn’t hurt either.
The people that work at the Washington Navy Yard serve our country, and help the United States Navy to be the finest Navy in the world, sailing the seven seas. These heroic Americans deserve better, and we deserve better. This senseless gun massacre of Naval personnel is reprehensible and unnecessary. Worst of all, it’s an outrage that Congress continues to ignore the will of the American people.
I will not rest until they do something. Please join me in calling your member of Congress to demand change.
You can call your member of Congress at 202 225-3121.

 straight talk in a queer world.         jiveinthe415.com     
         
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