We must act

The senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has left us stunned and shocked, unable to understand how anyone can be capable of such savagery.

We grieve for the children. We celebrate heroic teachers and administrators who saved lives, sometimes at the cost of their own. And we wonder why? Why did this happen? How can it happen here?

What we must focus on is: How can we keep it from happening again?

There has been an outpouring of grief in the wake of this tragedy but we must also aknowledge that this is not just a time for sadness. It must also be a time of anger over the inability of this country to face up to the gun culture that infects our society. Now is the time to act. Not tomorrow. Not after Jan. 1 and certainly not after the next senseless tragedy.

In his remarks Sunday night, President Barack Obama said that we have not done enough to keep our children safe from harm. We have not done enough to show them that they are loved and should give love in return. And we have not done enough to give our children the chance to live their lives in happiness and with purpose.

To put it even more directly, we have failed. We have failed because we have let groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their bought and sold members of Congress dictate policy. We have failed because not enough members of Congress have had the courage to stand up to them.

We have let even the most sensible aspects of gun control, ones endorsed by law enforcement agencies, be twisted and spun by the NRA and its sycophants into the idea that “they’re coming for your guns.” We have associated gun ownership with freedom and the right to bear arms as something more precious than the right to be able to go to school or go to a movie or pray in a temple and not have to be worried about being murdered.

But no more. We cannot wait. It is not “politicizing” the issue to say we need better, stronger laws in this country to keep guns out of the hands of maniacs. It is not political to say that time and time again we have reacted to gun massacres in this country with quiet, calm reflection and absolutely no action. We have let everything be defined as “Republicans vs. Democrats” and let arguments over politics run our lives, but this is not political. This is about protecting human lives.

After Columbine we did nothing. After Aurora we did nothing. After a lunatic shot up a temple of Sikhs in Milwaukee we did nothing. After this month’s mall shooting in Oregon we did nothing. We must not do nothing after Sandy Hook.

This is not about responsible gun owners who have weapons safely in place for home protection or for hunting. This is about assault weapons that serve no purpose but to end human life. This is about making sure that weapons that belong with soldiers and special response law enforcement do not end up in the hands of people who want to do nothing but murder.

For too long we have tolerated a sick culture in this country that worships assault weapons and breeds paranoia and distrust. There have been four mass shootings since President Obama took office in 2008 and we must finally put to rest the daily, ludicrous messages that he is “the other” and that “the American way of life” is being threatened and that we are on the verge of socialism and communism and it must be repelled by brave patriots armed to the teeth.

The time is now for sensible gun laws. The time is now to end this poisonous culture. We cannot wait any longer.

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