Tommy CarcettiTommy Carcetti's Journal
Let me first preface this by saying I've long prided myself with not making arguments out of base emotion. I'm a long, outspoken opponent of the death penalty, and whenever I've been asked, "Well, how would you feel if a loved one of yours was murdered?", I've always responded by stating I'd probably be very angry and upset, but that wouldn't change the basic facts that the death penalty is neither a deterrent nor a true sense of justice to the victim's loved ones, and is hypocritical to its very core.
But that aside, I will say that the entire Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy has shook me to the very core. And in the past week, I've heard the brave, haunting testimony of Neil Heslin and David Wheeler. I've read the opinion piece authored by Mark and Jackie Barden. And I will freely admit as a man who usually is a master at holding his emotions in check, I've found myself just welling up with tears on multiple occasions at the mere thought of what they've had to say. I know that none of them ever wanted that type of attention. None of them wanted their 15 minutes of fame to be having to relive the death of their child before a government panel or in the pages of a well-circulated newspaper. But out of a sense of duty and a basic sense of what is right and what is wrong, they knew they could not remain silent.
You see, I'm the proud father of two young and beautiful daughters. One of my daughters is not much younger than those first graders who perished that December morning. Every evening, they greet me with smiles and shouts of "Daddy!" when I get home from work. Every evening I get to play games with them. Every evening I get to read books to them and tuck them into bed. Yet there is the creeping thought in the back of my mind that in some extremely fucked-up alternate universe, I am Neil Heslin. I am David Wheeler. I am Mark or Jackie Barden. What I get to experience every night has suddenly been brutally robbed from 20 sets of parents. And beyond the city limits of Newtown, Connecticut, it has been robbed from countless other parents and children and husbands and wives and friends, and continues to be robbed on a daily basis.
There's been considerable talk about the Second Amendment, what it says, what it doesn't say, what it means and what it doesn't mean. And that's all fine and a worthy conversation to be had. I also know that many of the proponents of a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment are parents themselves, and they may indeed take that position because they believe their ownership of guns (including those with maximum firepower and capacity) is somehow meant to protect their own children from whatever forces that be.
But we cannot lose sight of our priorities here. As has been said over and over and over, there is no legitimate effort in this country to ban all private ownership of all guns. Many people will continue to have bolt action shotguns if they like to hunt. Many people will continue to have a pistol in their home for self-protection, hopefully secured in a proper and safe manner. And the issue staring us square in the face--gun violence--is truly a multi-faceted dilemma. It's not just about semi-automatic rifles or high-capacity clips. It's not just about background checks or mental health screening and treatment. It's not just about a violent society. It's not just about what constitutes self-defense. It's not just about securing one's weapons. It's about all those things, and more.
But for those who have honed in on ownership of high powered semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines, and what they view as an affront to the Second Amendment if there is any legislative action taken to restrict ownership of those items, I just implore them to stop and take a step back.
If one is suddenly by law prohibited from buying an AR-15 or buying a 30 round clip for their own personal use, in the end, it means nothing. Nothing You can still freely buy a less powered weapon or a smaller sized package of ammunition, and you can still achieve whatever basic sense of satisfaction that you sought from those items.
But if someone loses a child (or any sort of loved one) as a result of a shooting such as Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech or Tuscon or Columbine or countless others, it means everything. Every single little thing in the world.
Assuming you have a good relationship with them and they have not predeceased you, your children will show up at your funeral when you pass away. Your guns will not. Your children will carry on your family name and legacy. Your guns will not. Your children are capable of giving you grandchildren. Your guns will not. Your children will accompany you on family vacations and bless you with holiday memories. Your guns will not. Your guns will never hug you back or tell you that they love you; your children will. Even those who don't have children of their own (whether it be by fate or by choice) are someone else's children, and know all too well the power of having that sense of wonder and astonishment of the world that comes with childhood.
A gun will never, ever give the sense of satisfaction or meaning that a loved one can give you. Their interests will always be subjected to the interests of human life and human dignity.
And one more thing. Guns did not write the U.S. Constitution. People did. Keep that forever in mind when you speak of the Constitution.
The testimony of Neil Heslin:
The testimony of David Wheeler:
Op-Ed Piece by Mark and Jackie Barden:
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