As the news of the Connecticut school shooting trickled in Friday, I, like everyone else, struggled to comprehend the news. The mood on the CNN set that night brought to mind the coverage of September 11th; seasoned professionals that have seen in all struggling to maintain their composure while reporting an unimaginably horrible event.
Naturally, the shooting has brought gun control to the forefront of public debate. I myself, having always lived in or near urban areas, have never fired a gun. My only meaningful experience with a firearm was staring down the barrel of a handgun during an armed robbery in Milwaukee…obviously not a positive experience.
Still, I can accept that, and even understand why firearms have a place in American life. Hunters, for example, demonstrate every Wisconsin deer season what it means to own and use guns responsibly. I even agree with the argument that the problem is not guns; the problem is violent people that use guns irresponsibly. However, a violent person with a gun can do a heck of a lot more damage than a violent person with a knife or a baseball bat. And that is why I cannot understand where assault rifles, such as the one used in the Connecticut shooting, fit into American life.
Why does anyone need an assault rifle? For that matter, why does anyone need multiple handguns? I am not posing these as rhetorical questions, I am really wondering if anyone has a good answer to these questions. Perhaps I am biased because of my lone extremely negative experience with a gun, but it sure seems past time for increased gun control in the United States. It is possible to respect the spirit of the second amendment while placing reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.
Guns did not cause the Connecticut shooting. The 99.9% of responsible, legal gun owners in the United States certainly share no blame. But I cannot get around the fact that the availability of an assault rifle and multiple handguns made a terrible tragedy worse.