Letter to the editor: Let’s ‘humanize’ nation’s gun issue


To the editor:

In the days following the college shooting in Oregon, the predictable has happened. There’s been grief and outrage – and the inevitable “Why?”

Just as predictable are responses from both sides of the “gun issue.” Many concerned citizens argue such repeated massacres prove our need for better gun laws. Many gun owners, however, staunchly defend their unfettered right to guns.

Another argument especially interests me. Status-quo defenders say we dare not “politicize” the issue.

(That’s a curious argument, given the relentless way the National Rifle Association’s powerful lobby already has politicized the issue. NRA power is so great it essentially squashes any real dialogue on the issue.)

Let’s approach the issue, however, from another perspective. Rather than “politicizing,” let’s “humanize” the issue? The matter changes significantly if we see the issue, not as a legislative power struggle, but through the lives of suffering human beings.

America’s gun carnage has profound human consequences. For instance, the multitude of mass shootings — just since Sandy Hook – have killed more than 3,500 Americans. That’s more than all lives lost in New York’s Twin Towers on 9/11.

Given that sobering reality, what if the NRA saw this issue, not as a political battle to win, but instead understood and felt its human tragedy – which it might help to resolve? Unfortunately I know of no serious NRA proposal that would have any impact on our nation’s obscene gun violence statistics.

Let’s invite the NRA to partner with the rest of society in searching for, in working for reasonable and effective ways to end this growing stain on our society. Together let’s honor weeping humans, touched so irreparably by gun violence. Together let’s see their grief (beyond a struggle to protect rights) as a challenge to live together as loving people in a compassionate society.

In doing so, perhaps we’ll end up protecting the rights of those who could be the next victims of gun violence.

William A. McCartney



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