A devastating but all too familiar horror took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in an idyllic Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14. Twenty-six were killed: 20 young children and six adults. The perpetrator was 20-year-old Adam Lanza.
On another Friday, four months and six days prior, another mass shooting occurred inside of a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises.
A gunman, dressed in tactical clothing, set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. The shooter was 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, who was arrested outside the cinema minutes later.
The names of the killers and locations of the carnage differ, but their weapon of choice does not. It's that same old reliable semi-automatic "hunting" (read: assault) rifle, sister to the military version minus the "semi."
The passage from a letter I wrote back in July seems eerily appropriate now in December:
No one should own an assault rifle except our soldiers in the military and the law enforcement officers who protect us. In 1994 Congress passed a ten-year ban on assault weapons and President Bill Clinton signed it. Unfortunately, it was allowed to abate.
During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised to reinstate the ban, and Romney signed an assault weapon ban as Governor of Massachusetts. It is obviously time to reinstate the ban but it’s not quite that easy.
One enormous hurdle, of course, is the omnipresent NRA. They are as much of a danger to the safety of our citizens as are the assault rifles themselves. They will do whatever is necessary to defeat such a common sense ban.
They will distort, lobby and spend as much as is necessary as they always have. Their paranoia that the government is going to steal their weapons is idiotic, but has rubbed off on a large portion of our citizenry who actually believe it. Let us hope that facts conquer fears.