The horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings will stay with all of us for a long time. Clearly it will stay with the many families who lost family members there for the rest of their lives. Beyond the terrible tragedy of the lives lost there, there is also the damage done to the children who were not hurt physically, but who will be haunted by the terrible events of that day for the rest of their lives.
Your child should be safe in his or her school, as well as in a shopping mall, a movie theater, an outdoor political rally.
Indeed, everyone should be.
There will always be people bent on the destruction of others and of themselves. All the social programs in the world cannot erase the hidden terrors of those capable of this kind of violence, and may not prevent them from endangering the rest of us. This is a moment when we can take advantage of public outrage and address a multitude of issues that this tragedy presents. Greater attention to mental health coverage, identification of individuals with mental health issues, particularly at an early age, incarceration of the mentally ill, all are issues we should not give up on. While it may be true that we cannot prevent every tragedy, we can make inroads and should never give up trying. And something must be done to mitigate the damage caused by inappropriate guns in inappropriate hands. It is obvious that fewer guns means fewer shootings. Keeping automatic and semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of lay people is a good start.
Even the most avid pro-gun enthusiast would have a difficult time persuading people of the need for the kind of semi-automatic assault weapon used in Newtown, and in other massacres in recent years. Legitimate hunters do not need or use them. They are intended for military use, delivering a deadly barrage of bullets in a matter of seconds. No shooting of an innocent person is a good thing; we will probably never be able to avert all such tragedies. But the terrible damage caused by weapons such as that used in Newtown can be stopped, so what might have been a single attack does not become a massacre.
The U.S. Supreme Court made clear in D.C. v. Heller that "the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited." Even in striking down the District of Columbia's prohibition on the possession of handguns in the home, the court noted that: "[f]rom Blackstone through the 19th century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."
As stated by President Barack Obama in Newtown, we need to keep our children safe. To that end, the gun laws in place must be reviewed, strengthened, and enforced. Consider the children from Sandy Hook who are no longer here. What would you give for the life of just one of them?
If not this tragedy, what will it take for us to get serious about gun control?
The Editorials on this page are the product of the Editorial Board. The views expressed are not necessarily those of any individual Board Member or of the Law Tribune?s management. The Editorial Board has no role in the management of the Law Tribune.