In the wake of the tragic events at Newtown (and in the wake of every mass shooting in the past decade) I've read countless op-ed pieces written by advocates of gun ownership, all of which carry the same basic theme- the idea that if only somebody had treated the shooter for mental illness, or prevented him from obtaining arms through "background checks, or been armed at the scene prior to the attack, etc. etc.- lives could've been saved. These points are all valid to some degree. But every excuse given to deflect criticism of our nation's culture of gun ownership sounds like just that: an excuse. The fact remains that if Adam Lanza or others like him hadn't been able to acquire deadly weapons and ammunition with such minimal effort, far fewer lives would've been lost.
Gun rights advocates are always quick to claim that our high rate of gun ownership has nothing to do with these mass killings, nothing to do with a homicide rate far above any other country with a comparative level of development. But where do they think that the guns used in these murders originated, exactly? Russia? Mexico? Secretive, illicit gun factories funded by criminals and the like? Nearly every gun used to kill an American on a street corner in the ghetto or in a school or shopping mall was at some point in time legally purchased. In fact, most of the guns used to carry out acts of unspeakable violence even in Mexico were bought at American gun stores and then smuggled south to serve in the drug war. Whether these weapons were stolen from their legitimate owner or bought and intentionally funneled to criminals, they were available thanks to this nation's tolerance of deadly firearms. All other factors aside, Adam Lanza would not have been able to steal so many precious children away from their loved ones if he didn't have a family member who legally purchased an AR-15 rifle from her local gun store.
The sentiment "guns don't kill people, people kill people" may (technically) be true. But people wouldn't be able to kill others so easily without guns. It's time to stop making excuses and restrict the sale of firearms- to everybody.
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