“The right to bear arms.” Yes, but at what cost?

“The right to bear arms.” Yes, but at what cost?

As I write this now my heart goes out to the parents and families of those killed so mercilessly in Connecticut yesterday. Such a tragic and brutal waste of beautiful lives; such sorrow to consume so many hearts and homes this Christmas and for years to come.

It also makes me angry.

Angry because I know this will not be the last tragic slaughter of innocent lives at the hands of enraged and often delusional people. Angry because there are so many people in the USA where I lived for over a decade until earlier this year whom are so unwilling to face the brutal reality of US gun laws.

Did you know that Americans are 32 times more likely to die from gun death than Australians?  Scary isn’t it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-guns. . . I grew up with them!  Rabbit shooting on my parents’ farm in rural Australia was a favourite pastime.But this most recent tragedy in Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 28 innocent people – 2o of them innocent children the same age as my own –   has compelled me to get on my soap box on the issue of gun control.

The topic of gun control creates a lot of conflict and incites a lot of fear. Much of it is driven by the pro-gun movements’ strong held, and long held, belief that restricting the availability of guns is an infringement on one’s individual freedom limiting our ability to protect ourselves. But their equation that gun access equals safety and freedom quickly proves itself false when you look at the facts and take the rhetoric out of it.

The equation that gun access equals safety quickly proves itself false when you look at the facts and take the rhetoric out of it.

How can anyone say guns create safety and freedom with statistics like that. Here’s a few more to  (all sourced from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence):

  • As a percentage of population, the US has 33 times more gun homicides than the UK each year and that Americans are over four times more likely to die of gun death than Australians.
  • Seventy  adults and 8 children die every day from gun violence in America.
  • American children (age 14 and below) are sixteen times more likely than children in other industrialized nations to be murdered with a gun, eleven times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from firearms accidents.

Can the current status quo continue at the cost of human lives for the sake of “freedom” as the pro-gun lobby maintains?

Guns are dangerous. Guns can kill people. Big people, little people, old people, young people, and way too often, good, kind and innocent people. Like the wonderful 24 year old female journalist killed in Colorado earlier this year while out with friends at the movies.  Like the beautiful nine year old girl murdered visiting Gabrielle Giffords in an Arizona shopping mall (she was the same age as my son Ben.)  Too often people with guns are people who shouldn’t be even given a sling shot. What happened in Connecticut  wasn’t the first time a person was so desensitised to life they went crazy and killed people they didn’t even know, including children.  What makes me so sad is that it won’t be the last.  Think Colorado. Think  Columbine. Sadly, you don’t have to think too hard.

Surely it’s past time for a national and rational debate that examines the issue objectively, and weighs up the “right to bear arms” versus the cost to every person living in America of millions of people walking around with loaded guns in their pockets, in their cars, in their homes and  under their pillows. Surely even gun toting, NRA card carrying folks across the US have to pause and wonder if a country of 300 odd million people many armed with guns really makes anyone of themany safer.

I talk a lot about living with courage. Let me just say, when it comes to the obsession millions of Americans have about guns, and more so, their right to carry one, it scares the hell out of me.