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At least 20 schoolchildren and six adults are dead in Connecticut at the hands of still another monster with still another assault weapon.

If I may speak as a father who dropped off his children at an elementary school today, this story did not happen 1,000 miles away. It is as local as local gets, and it is as personal as personal gets.

I am not rational about this today, nor do I care to be, because what happened today cries out for raw emotion and rage. I am as sad and angry about what happened in Connecticut as I have ever been about any news story ever, and that includes the September 11 tragedy, which prompted me to write a ranting tirade for The Riverfront Times.

Let this be the September 11 moment for gun control in the United States of America.

This is not the time for calm and patience and understanding and introspection. This is a time for action about the scourge of assault weaponry in this country.

We of course should pray and cry for the victims, and for the families whose lives have been permanently shattered, and we do. But something tells me that all those prayers and tears are not really going to do much for those poor souls today. Nothing will.

But we need to do something now. We need to do more than grieve for the victims and their families.

We need to legislate for them.

With no apology, I write these words without full possession of the details. I’m happy to indict assault weaponry on the purely speculative assumption that the monster in Newtown, Conn. didn’t perpetrate his evil with a hunting rifle alone. And if it turns out that the weaponry that could discharge so many rounds so quickly doesn’t fit the technical definition of assault weaponry, then that definition needs to be expanded, and the weapons outlawed.

In expressing President Obama’s sympathy and prayers for the victims, Press Secretary Jay Carney made the obligatory statement that “today is not the day” to discuss renewing the federal assault weapons ban, which Obama has said he supports. I understand that position, and it is the appropriate message to for the President to put forth out of respect for the victims and the horror that has occurred.

But today is the day that has a lot of us raging, and today is as good a day as any to demand that the nation turn its anger on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and anyone else responsible for perpetrating the spread and easy availability of assault weaponry.

The NRA can go to hell.

If NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre was a real man, he’d make his way to Connecticut to explain to those grieving parents that the guns didn’t kill their children, the shooter did. Or maybe he could tell them that the tragedy could have been avoided if only the teachers had been armed, or perhaps the children were themselves. Or maybe he could tell them about how precious the Second Amendment is.

Then he could go on to attack people like me in the liberal media for exploiting this tragedy for an anti-gun agenda. He could make it clear on Fox News that the real victim here, in the end, is the Second Amendment and those who so heroically defend it.

I’m honored to plead guilty as charged. I’m all for the rights of hunters to have their hunting weapons, and all for the rights of Americans to own basic weapons for their self-defense, but none of that has anything to do with assault weaponry. Not even a little bit.

Congress should act immediately—maybe today—to reinstate the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, the one that was allowed to expire in 2004. Were it not for the NRA, and the politicians who have prostituted themselves for its favor—or out of fear of its political wrath—that simple piece of legislation would be the law today.

If there is a one-in-a-million chance that today’s tragedy might have been avoided had that ban still been on the books, it would have been worth it. Make that one-in-a-billion.

And I think there are plenty of other gun-control measures that the U.S. should enact to make the acquisition of guns more difficult than, say, getting registered to vote. We should have longer waiting periods for gun purchases. We should prevent gun shows from circumventing reasonable gun laws. We should register guns, just like cars.

Yes, gun ownership should be legal, but it’s not a civil liberty that must be uniquely protected from any form of regulation. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can threaten to kill people. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you can perform ritual sacrifices. Freedom of assembly doesn’t mean you never need a parade permit. America can regulate the Second Amendment without destroying it. It can enact sane gun-control policies designed to made the country safer for its citizens without compromising their liberty.

That’s my anti-gun agenda, and I’m proud of it.

The burden of proof isn’t on the likes of me to prove positive that today’s tragedy would not have happened if assault weapons had been banned. The burden is on the NRA to prove why we need to be content to shake our heads in sadness about some isolated madman’s madness, and then go back to making sure that his weapons might be there for the next madman.

If that makes me crazy, so be it. If you’re a loyal NRA member, and I have offended you today—and I know it offends you even that I’m writing this today—then let me offend you a little more with this bit of craziness:

Those poor little children in Connecticut were a lot more precious than your Second Amendment rights could ever be.

(This was posted at stlmag.com earlier today)

Originally posted to rhartmann52 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:41 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You rock! (7+ / 0-)

    Love the diary. Especially this part

     

    I’m all for the rights of hunters to have their hunting weapons, and all for the rights of Americans to own basic weapons for their self-defense, but none of that has anything to do with assault weaponry. Not even a little bit.
    I don't know why that distinction is so hard for people to contemplate.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:48:42 PM PST

    •  Because it's a gun "industry" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fba1a, myboo

      there's many to be made on the nastiest of weaponry in the hands average citizens.

      The future is green: www.greenasteroid.com

      by bogmanoc on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:37:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The NRA is a gun manufacturers lobby (5+ / 0-)

        that has convinced a lot of other people to support their profitable industry. If there was not a great deal of money to be made from manufacturing and selling guns to scared people, the NRA would be a small organizations run by gun owners who were trying to ensure responsible gun ownership. Instead, it is a massive industry lobby that tries to prevent any regulation of the sale of any kind of guns whether or not buyers are responsible. There is no excuse for allowing the free sale of guns at gun shows or the sales of hundreds of guns to the same person. There is no excuse for allowing the sale of rapid-fire weapons and gigantic magazines.

  •  And I have a question: (6+ / 0-)

    Those in Benghazi knew they were signing on for danger, but the kids in Connecticut thought they were going to school. Where is McCain?

    There is no such thing as an off year election. Every election effects each other. We need to work as hard in 2014 as we did in 2012.

    by pollbuster on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:52:49 PM PST

  •  I hope that this mass killing of our children (4+ / 0-)

    will finally at long last embolden our public officials to pass the sensible and long overdue measures that rhartmann advocates.

    Maybe just maybe we have reached the tipping point.

    It takes time to practice generosity, but being generous is the best use of our time. - Thich Nhat Hanh.

    by Frank In WA on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:57:08 PM PST

  •  Seen on Twitter: (8+ / 0-)
    Idiot saying an armed trained teacher stops a shooting. we can't even afford to buy our schools pencils, but we gonna train a teacher militia

    There is no such thing as an off year election. Every election effects each other. We need to work as hard in 2014 as we did in 2012.

    by pollbuster on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:04:21 PM PST

  •  Prepared to be lectured (9+ / 0-)

    By condescending gun enthusiasts about the minutiae of gun classifications and how these guns were only "semi-automatic" not "automatic" and how you don't know what you are talking about because you are not intimately familiar with all their gruesome gun-geek knowledge concerning caliber and magazines and killing power.

    Apparently, the fact that this killer didn't actually use the assault rifle that he brought and that he used "common" handguns that are semi-automatic, not automatic means that it's all just a big sad tragedy that really has nothing to do with the assault rifle ban debate, etc.

    I should know:  I've been through this sophistry all night.

    Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

    by Fatherflot on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:36:08 PM PST

    •  But another little question (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theKgirls, Joy of Fishes

      Why did his mother, a kindergarten teacher, keep a 9mm Sig, 9mm Glock and Bushmaster 223 at home?

      And the fact she was killed first with her own guns just lends more evidence to the fact that more guns do NOT make you more safe.

      •  Thank You (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        myboo, peterfallow

        The whole argument that allowing the "good people" to have guns to protect themselves from the "bad people" is based on a 10 year old's view of human nature and circumstance.

        First of all, who are "the good people"?  Every religious ant ethical system points out that  there is the potential to do bad or even evil within all of us.  "Good people" may turn into "bad people" for any number of reasons---illness, stress, bad judgment, intoxicants, anger.

        Next, guns are not wired to the DNA of the "good people" who bought them and registered them:  they can be operated in most cases by anyone who can lay hands on them.  Why do we believe that guns bought and registered by "good people" will only be used by those intended and as intended?  As you point out, this woman was killed by her own guns.

        Imagine in the gun apologists had their way and every school teacher and school official walked around, even in kindergartens, with loaded weapons!  I don't care how well you have "trained" these people, there are going to be mistakes.  Someone is going to forget to secure the gun or one will go off accidentally, or one of the armed "good people" will get angry or have a meltdown and turn it on those it was meant to protect.

        I honestly do not understand how people who purport to be Christians, subscribing to a worldview that we are all weak sinners with the capacity to do evil, can contend that all we have to do is arm the "good people" to the teeth.

        What "good people"????????????????

        Dulce bellum inexpertis [War is sweet only to those who have no experience of it].

        by Fatherflot on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:58:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to the new group, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, theKgirls, Joy of Fishes

    Shut Down the NRA.

    Well-said. I'm thinking and hoping that this truly will be the tipping point, the time when the American people rise up and say Enough! to this appalling carnage we've endured for far too long.

    Handmade holiday gifts from Jan4insight on Zibbet. Get 10%off everytime with coupon code KOSSACK.

    by jan4insight on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:57:42 PM PST

  •  The 9/11 of Gun Control (0+ / 0-)

    So we should freak out and have congress pass a bunch of laws that expand the power of government and make us not a lick safer?

    "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

    by Spider Stumbled on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:29:50 PM PST

  •  Best piece of the day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theKgirls

    and amazingly eloquent considering the emotional circumstances.  Thanks.

    The future is green: www.greenasteroid.com

    by bogmanoc on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:36:33 AM PST

  •  Excellent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myboo, annieli

    I especially like this

    Yes, gun ownership should be legal, but it’s not a civil liberty that must be uniquely protected from any form of regulation. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can threaten to kill people. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you can perform ritual sacrifices. Freedom of assembly doesn’t mean you never need a parade permit. America can regulate the Second Amendment without destroying it. It can enact sane gun-control policies designed to made the country safer for its citizens without compromising their liberty.
    Perfect explanation for the but but but The 2nd Amendment crap that NRA likes to spew.

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. -- Molly Ivins

    by theKgirls on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:10:52 AM PST

  •  I agree with this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FisherOfRolando, myboo

    It's time for the NRA and the rest of us to put up or shut up. I hate when the NRA says it's insensitive to bring this up so soon after a tragedy. To whom are we being insensitive? To the victims? They've had the ultimate insensitivity perpetrated on them by a man with a gun and a society that let him have one. The families? Call them up and ask. If they say they are horrified by what I'm doing then I'll be happy to apologize and wait. To gun owners? I say it's time for them to STFU, but on their big boy pants and help us solve a problem that they are just as culpable in as we are.

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