Letter: No single thing to blame in Orlando shootings

From: Barbara Smitherman


Here’s a list of all the gun laws passed by the U.S. Congress since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. You remember Newtown, the place where 20 small children were murdered by a deranged young man using an automatic weapon.

Oh, never mind, there is no list. Not one single piece of gun legislation has been passed since that horrific day. Now Orlando.

I understand the issue of gun violence is extremely complex. Lack of sensible gun and ammunition control laws play a part in the problem, and there are other components:

  • Mass murderers are often mentally ill and unstable.
  • Homophobia is still widespread.
  • Radical terrorists seek out individuals needing to find a “higher cause” to justify their hate with easy access to terrorist websites.
  • The destruction of law and order and conditions of war in the Middle East.
  • Guns kill. A handgun or knife can kill, too, but not 50 people or 20 children in seconds.

It’s not “all guns,” or “all Muslims” or “all homophobia,” or “all U.S. policy in the Middle East” or any other reason. It is a deep and volatile mix of all these.

It seems impossible to cut the Gordian knot. However, I decided there are steps I can take and, if you are willing, you can, too:

  • Work to ban sales of all automatic assault rifles and ammunition magazines — which kill so many. Call and write your legislators.
  • Work to change the NRA’s policies. Common sense gun owners, stand up to your NRA leaders.
  • If U.S. policies and actions don’t work in the Middle East, ask for better solutions.
  • Get to know your Muslim neighbors who are also motivated to stop these murderous events. They pay a high price as well. Bullying of Muslim and Hispanic children is on the rise. Some of it is based on the rhetoric our kids are hearing.
  • Talk to your kids about diversity and contributions others make and to support those who are being harassed.
  • Do research on gun control resolutions sitting in Congress with no action. Be willing to spend some time as there are at least 90. Again, write your legislators.
  • Write a letter to your newspaper editor.
  • Vote for Democrats in the coming election.

If you object to my views because you think I just want to take your away your guns, you’re right. I want to take away your assault rifles and their ammunition clips. They are designated “assault” for a reason. If you think I’m against the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms, you are wrong. I’m not. I grew up in a hunting family, learning to shoot when I was a pre-teen. My Dad fought through the Battle of the Bulge in WWII and was an active NRA member. He would be ashamed of the NRA today.

Speak up, whatever your view, contact your legislators and vote in November.