Heated rhetoric about guns has been rampant since the killing of 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. None of these comments are more mind-blowing than those calling for even less gun control. Case in point: Rep. Dennis Richardson, of Oregon, who sent an email to local superintendents making the astounding claim that if teachers at Sandy Hook had been armed, then "most of the murdered children would still be alive."
As a former high school teacher, the idea of having to keep a gun in my classroom to keep my students safe is incomprehensible. How about, instead, we make it impossible for a disturbed individual like Adam Lanza to get his hands on a semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 rifle, a gun with the capacity to fire dozens of high-velocity rounds in the course of just a few minutes; a military-style gun legally registered to Adam Lanza's gun-enthusiast mother; a gun produced by a company whose corporate parent is Freedom Group, owned by New York–based hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management, firm supporters of the Second Amendment—the same company that used this ad slogan for the Bushmaster: "Consider your man card reissued."
Rather than demanding that teachers pack heat, government representatives should reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004 and still hasn't reached the floor for a renewal vote. How about if the government made it illegal for Walmart to sell these weapons to the public?
"Our hearts our broken today," said President Obama on Friday. But more hearts will be broken unless the United States, as a society, a nation and a government, thoroughly questions the toll of a constantly growing arsenal of weapons and the association of guns with masculinity and empowerment as normal and acceptable. Whether we're talking about 20 children in Connecticut or 176 children killed since 2004 in Pakistan by American (and Obama-sanctioned) drones, a dead child is a dead child. The ability to kill anyone at anytime should not be the ultimate signifier of "freedom."
Leilani Clark is a staff writer.
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