1.17.2013

Now is the Time, Indeed

One of the reasons I wanted to make the commitment to write about gun violence and advocate for gun control reform on a monthly basis is so that I wouldn't write about it on a daily basis. (Believe me, I could.)

But I can't possibly wait until February 14th to offer my yes, yes, yes to the press conference yesterday. Now is the time, indeed. It was incredibly encouraging to hear the President of the United States of America say what I hoped he would say.

I don't doubt the power of the gun lobby, but I am cautiously hopeful that these reforms will come to pass, and soon, and that they will begin chipping away at the shamefully large numbers of violent gun deaths that occur in the United States each year.

So I was unsurprisingly heartened yesterday. But I understand what it feels like to be disheartened by a President's policies. I understand what it feels like to have this sense that the government is leading the government in the wrong direction. I am sympathetic to those who received today's pronouncements as bad news.

But I wonder about these threats to impeach President Obama, and the frighteningly vitriolic and widespread rhetoric that the President is a traitor or otherwise un-American. I wonder, and I worry. I am more than a little scared that a very real threat to the President's safety could emerge from this cloud of hysteria.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't always do a great job of honoring differing opinions. I am quite capable of believing, unswervingly, that I am right. This is one such area that it is very hard for me to grasp the opposition. The worldview the NRA perpetuates is so foreign to me - and yet, that word: foreign. Once again, making this a matter of national identity.

But I'm realizing it is. The Second Amendment makes it so. Guns are inextricably woven into the fabric of what it means to be the United States of America.

So what does it mean that I abhor guns?

I can't help it that I hate guns. And I really don't hate all guns. I think there are contexts in which it is appropriate to have them (for instance, I think hunting is far more ethical than factory farming), but I also believe that an annual rate of 30,000 deaths from gun violence makes it incredibly hard to justify maintaining the status quo.

You're not supposed to admit that you hate guns. You're supposed to draw the line in the sand and make it clear that you're only seeking a ban on assault weapons, and that you have no problem with the millions of handguns that are used in even more gun fatalities each year. Admitting that you hate guns is to admit that you're an extremist. A radical. Fundamentally un-American.

All I know is that I felt deeply patriotic yesterday as I listened to the President of the United States of America speak and act so courageously.

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