Monday, April 16, 2007

Why I Believe in Handgun Control

The 7:00 news has ended, and I have watched Brian Williams report for 30 solid minutes on today's tragedy at Virginia Tech. My heart is aching. The pictures and the stories have made me sick to my stomach. I cannot imagine being one of the parents -- a mother who sent a son off to Virginia Tech in the fall -- only to sit at home tonight wondering why I have not yet heard from him. I cannot imagine being one of the students in the classroom where a semi-automatic weapon was reloaded in front of my eyes in order for more shots to be fired. I cannot imagine being the president of an institution that has faced a day like today -- a day on which his employees will be scrutinized forever because of the emails they sent and the gates and doors they closed or failed to close. Again, my heart is aching, and my prayers are with the entire Virginia Tech community and the town of Blacksburg.

There are a couple of statements that caught my attention from tonight's broadcast. One of the statements is about how the gunman reloaded his weapon and how his weapon held more shots than it would have been able to hold had handgun control legislation not expired a few years ago. The other statement made tonight with complete confidence is, "One thing is for sure. A situation like this one will happen again." This statement is backed up by the spokeswoman at the White House who was quick to say, "The President believes in the right to bear arms." Perhaps the NRA was already concerned about what impact an incident like this one might have on their level of power in Washington.

My father and I have long argued about guns and the right to have them in our homes. When I worked on Capitol Hill in the mid-90s, Dad would send money to the NRA while I would send money to Handgun Control. We stopped sending money when we realized that our contributions were cancelling each other out.

I cannot imagine why anyone in this country needs a semi-automatic handgun. I cannot imagine why anyone needs to own a military style assault weapon. Why on earth should these guns be allowed in the homes of individuals in this country? How long do we have to go as a nation before we see how dangerous these weapons are? Could handgun control have prevented the death of 32+ people today?

One of the 10 Commandments is "Thou Shall Not Kill." Jesus made it very clear that we are to put away our swords. He came preaching peace and forgiveness. He came asking people to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them.

God, grant us the courage to follow your commandments. Please be with all individuals in positions of authority and power. Help us to live as people of peace. And please bring healing and comfort to the Blacksburg community on this night and in the days to come. Amen.

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