342 is not just any number
It represents the total number of victims in mass shootings at UC Santa Barbara, Newtown Elementary, Aurora Theater, Oikos University, Tuscon, Fort Hood, Northern Illinois University, Virginia Tech, Columbine High School, Thurston High School, and Westside Middle School. There are countless others probably happening as you read this article.
Each victim and each place of attack is indelibly marked in the history of our nation; a nation where hope and freedom are marred by the inhumane decisions of individuals who decide to cast violent retribution on innocent lives – young lives. In the last 50 years, more than half of the world’s deadliest shootings occurred on our nation’s soil due to a distorted constitutional interpretation. (The Onion)A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
–Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
There is a well-regarded debate that the second amendment clearly protects an individual’s right to have a gun. However, proponents fail to acknowledge the true historical context in which these words were formed. The need to bear arms was in direct correlation to the inexistence of a standing army. Therefore, men had an individual duty to take up arms in order to defend their families, property, and state. Once a standing army was established, the second amendment was a mere vestige of history’s past. With militia no longer needed, gun regulation was introduced on state and federal levels. Then, the antics began.More than 100 years since a standing army was formed, the second amendment serves a different purpose. Aggressors can use guns as a tool to mask false bravado allowing them to seek violent retribution on innocent victims. Instead of recognizing the infringement on life, proponents have strategically argued that gun limitations are an infringement on rights, completely disregarding the introductory clause – the necessity of a well-regulated militia. Does an individual’s right to own a gun, trump the right of the majority to be free from the fear of gun violence? (NY Times)
A parent’s reality
The family conversation has changed. Gone are the days when parents are only teaching children about values of respect and good will toward their fellow-man. Parents must also equip children with a heightened awareness of the personalities they encounter. It will become a common practice to profile friends, classmates, teachers, colleagues and any person who is perceived to have questionable tendencies. Spurning advances, expressing a contrary opinion, or befriending a withdrawn person, may result in targeted vengeance.
Honestly, we exist in a state of borderline paranoia. Hearing the pleas of unnerved parents, like Richard Martinez, justifies the angst. Martinez’s 20-year-old son was gunned down at UC Santa Barbara without provocation or warning.
His impassioned plea gives voice to the parents who have lost their children. It also underscores the fear of parents who have not been affected. It is a call to politicians and advocates to stand on behalf of the right to life; recognizing that if something is not done, more innocent people and children will die. No community or town is immune.
I don’t want to be nervous for my four children who attend suburban schools. I don’t want to force my children to profile their friends, or to breach their trust because someone’s expression sparks concern. I want my kids to be kids, not cops.
Emotional outcries are exactly what our nation needs to raise awareness and reinvigorate the gun debate. 342 victims are apparently not enough to help leaders ascribe to the true intent of the second amendment. Hopefully, the multitude of voices and impassioned outcries will.