Is ‘safety’ really the core concern?

The tragedy in Newtown, Conn., ruined Christmas for many of us. The moral outrage expressed by so many people is justified. There is a groundswell to enact legislation to restrict certain classes of firearms. That action may be warranted. I share that concern and support that action.

However, I question if safety is really the driving force for the call to restrict firearm ownership. There is another mechanical device in our everyday life that destroys more lives and kills more children than firearms — automobiles. I see no call for national laws either to restrict the speed of cars, or to severely punish, aggressive drivers, drunk drivers, and repeat offenders. No, cars are a part of the fabric of our lives, even though automobile ownership has not been interpreted by the courts as a constitutional right as has been decided about firearms.

I know the argument that substance abuse is a disease, and should be treated as such. But people still drive and still kill innocent people, including children. Surely nobody believes that a sane person would walk in to an elementary school and begin shooting. The disease argument by the NRA should not be debunked on one hand while decrying punishing crimes committed while the perpetrator is chemically incapacitated on the other.

It seems to me that response to ban firearms is a convenient device to pursue a philosophical agenda, rather than a response to protect children. If children’s safety is the target, then we should develop and enforce laws to protect children, such as: child pornography, school bullying, human trafficking, child abuse, and raising children with no consequences for their actions and behaviors (which is a form a of abuse in my mind).

As I said at the beginning, I welcome a philosophical and legal debate regarding gun control, but why not try an honest approach. Coming so recently after all of the political ads, an honest debate and deliberate actions would be a welcome change.

Ed Caine