Am I Right?

How to live ethically

Killing Children and a Society That Won't Act

There is a social sickness that deals with gun control

In China a man attacks and injures 22 children at a school. On the same day in Connecticut a man attacks and kills 20 children at a school.

In China the assailant used a knife. In Connecticut assault weapons were used.

It is true that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. But it is easier to kill more people with a gun than with a knife.

If ever there were two incidents at the same time that made this point, I am unaware of it.

So once again, there is a call for gun control in the US and again the gun lobby will point to the Constitution where the text appears to me to refer to militias, that is, government-led militaries such as the National Guard, but to them will be read as an individual right.

The Supreme Court is inclined to accept wide interpretation that gun laws are unconstitutional. So let’s move beyond the constitutional debate by amending the Constitution itself.

Altering the Second Amendment wouldn’t ban guns but allow cities and states to create their own laws regarding gun control. This would appeal to those conservatives who favor local control and separate them from those who believe that individuals have a right to do whatever they want, even when it is a danger to society.

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The tragedy in Connecticut is heartbreaking. It is terrifying. It is tragic and it was avoidable. While a knife, made for cutting bread, can also kill, an assault weapon is designed for nothing but military-style killing.

Murderers, such as those involved in the Newtown and Virginia Tech, are often deeply troubled individuals. But a society that refuses to see the obvious is also deeply troubled. There is a kind of social sickness that won’t act to take guns out of the hands of such people.

The world can’t be made completely safe. But it can be made safer. Refusing the right to assault weapons is no more an infringement on personal liberty than is protecting the right to shout fire in a crowded theater an abridgement of free speech.

There is something deeply wrong with people who kill children. And there is something deeply wrong with a society that refuses to put reasonable restrictions on those who stock weapons that do such killings.

Arthur Dobrin, D.S.W., teaches applied ethics at Hofstra University. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of more than twenty books.

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