How can people claim to be pro-life and still refuse to do something—anything—to turn the tide of gun violence in America?
If people were consistently pro-life, they would (a) support efforts to reduce abortions, including the social and financial reasons that lead women to end pregnancy; (b) deal directly with euthanasia and assisted suicide, including the medical, physical and financial reasons that lead ill people to end their own lives; (c) advocate for reasonable gun control, including differentiating between firearms designed for hunting and weapons designed to take human life; and (d) seek criminal justice reform, including abolition of capital punishment.
Chances are, the paragraph you just read made you happy one minute and angry the next, or vice-versa. Logic and consistency are not American hallmarks. Conservatives oppose abortion and physician-assisted suicide, and liberals oppose the proliferation of firearms and capital punishment. A consistent life-ethic would come down on the side of life every time.
We live in the bloody shadow of the campus shooting in Roseburg, Ore., which happened in the bloody shadow of the on-air murder of a TV crew in Roanoke, Va., which happened in the bloody shadow of the church massacre in Charleston, S.C. So, for today, let’s focus on guns.
To begin, let’s set aside single- and double-shot shotguns and hunting rifles. The vast majority of hunters use those guns legally and honorably. The legacy of game hunting predates our nation. Hunters feed their families and others. Hunting trips cement bonds between parents and children. Some people use hunting equipment illicitly, but the occasions are almost miniscule compared to other gun violations.
Stem proliferation of assault rifles
We must find a way to stem the proliferation and mayhem caused by high-capacity assault rifles. We also must do something to prevent unstable people from obtaining handguns that can be secreted into public places and used to take innocent lives.
The Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That has been the law of the land 224 years, and it’s not about to change. But perhaps it should be interpreted as conservative justices seek to interpret all aspects of the Constitution—literally. One solution would be to require participation in a “well-regulated militia” in order to possess military-style weapons.
More practically, we must engage in a national dialogue and develop a purchasing structure that ensures only stable, law-abiding citizens have access to these weapons. Thorough background checks—whether the purchases are made in stores or at gun shows—should be required. If a gun is only going to be used for legal purposes, then a reasonable delay in taking possession should be no problem.
Don’t publicize murderers’ names
And here’s another step Americans should back that has nothing to do with obtaining firearms but has much to do with mass slayings: We should agree we do not want to know the names or see the faces of people who commit mass murder.
This may be an unexpected proposal, coming from a news organization. The First Amendment guarantees press freedom. But in other situations, the media agree to withhold identities. For example, news outlets do not reveal the names of victims of sexual violence to protect their privacy. Why not withhold the identity of mass-murderers to deny them the attention they perversely crave? All other details could and should be reported, but mass murderers should be denied personal publicity.
The old definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Every time we learn about another mass murder, we lament and wring our hands, but we have not done anything to change the future. That’s crazy.
Since 20 children and six teachers died in Sandy Hook, Conn., almost three years ago, America has witnessed 142 school shootings, according to Religion News Service. That year in our nation, criminal homicides outnumbered justifiable homicides with guns 8,342 to 259.
We cannot claim to be pro-life and stand for continuation of the slaughter.