The nation has suffered through a horrific week and a half after 26 people were shot dead on a Friday morning before Christmas in Newtown, Conn. The innocent victims were killed with a high-powered, semi-automatic military-style rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the majority of them were 20 young children, each shot multiple times at close range.
On Friday, Dec. 21, the National Rifle Association (NRA) gave its response, and it proves that the NRA is more out of touch and unable to come to terms with the real questions that result from the incident and those that continue to plague America.
The group’s response makes it irrelevant in a considered discussion of the incident and all discussion of gun violence in America. The NRA offered nothing about how to effectively respond to the tragedy and the overriding question of gun violence.
The NRA response was: We need more guns. We need to put guns in the hands of the good guys to deter these kinds of events. We need armed guards at all schools; guards who will guarantee the safety of all inside. And we, the NRA, are going to support that effort.
Their tact is to meet the threat of violence with an equal or greater threat. Their focus is on the incident, the fear of the incident and the paranoia of individual safety when you leave your home.
The Second Amendment is in place and its freedom is well entrenched in the American social fabric. “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.”
But, the questions that arise from the Sandy Hook school shootings, and so many others like it, are: What are the limits of military hardware or even high-powered guns and rifles with tremendous output that should be available to the individual, and how do we ensure that only law abiding citizens of sufficient trust be allowed to own them?
The NRA says nothing, except to continue to arm individuals to the limit of their desire and allow, even mandate, that institutions setup an armed barrier to protect themselves.
I am, and I believe many other Americans are, thinking beyond the confrontation, beyond the “force meets force” moment, thinking of ways to limit these tragic incidents and yet continue to allow well intentioned individuals to own guns for their enjoyment and peace of mind.
Based on their response, I don’t see how the NRA is relevant or acting in a responsible manner. And, I continue to be troubled by its positions — positions that make less and less sense in a modern world.
I fail to see how an army of citizens is better than an unarmed populace that cares for its fellow citizens and ensures that each of us has the freedom to live our lives without the constant need of armed protection.
Rogala lives in Napa.