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Despite no easy answers, we must try

January 09, 2013
There are no easy answers. There may not even be answers. Only this is certain: Last month's elementary school shooting in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults was horrible and I pray nothing like it happens again.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to make sure it doesn't. The quick and easy answer is to ban guns, at least so-called semi-automatic assault rifles. There's definitely a part of me that agrees with that thought. Nobody has a "need" to own something that can fire off bullets at such a rate.

Gun-control proponents argue that the Founding Fathers didn't fathom such weapons when they wrote the Constitution, and, therefore, shouldn't be protected under the Second Amendment. Despite what the courts have ruled, that's probably true. However, it's not that easy.

Pro-life advocates take issue with court rulings that give a woman the right to have an abortion. They note that abortion is not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they drafted the First, Ninth and Fourteenth amendments. Again, that's probably true.

See the problem? No matter how well-intentioned, to go against one part of the Constitution, or how the courts have interpreted it, opens the door for others to do the same in different areas, even those with which you agree. For example, the First Amendment gives us the right to be critical of our elected officials, but what if a law was passed that deemed criticism of the president a danger to the republic?

If it is agreed that guns shouldn't be available to the general public, that's fine. But, let's go through the proper channel of amending the Constitution. It's a lengthy and arduous process, but it will prevent unintended consequences.

So, short of amending the Constitution, what do we do? First, we need to start caring when any child — or adult, for that matter — is the victim of a violent crime. Why do we only show concern when it is either a mass killing or happens to someone we personally know or is in our own community.

We are all created in the image of God and, therefore, should weep when we hear of such tragedy. Instead, we usually think to ourselves, "How awful!," but in the same breath go back to whatever we were doing. I'm as guilty of that as anyone.

Isn't the life of a child beaten to death by an out-of-control parent or abducted and sexually molested before being murdered just as valuable as any of the 20 children in Connecticut? Of course it is, and all could have been avoided. Where is the same outrage?

Instead, our emotions are measured by volume: the more people who die, the more horrific the crime is. In one sense, that's true, but only in that more people died. The pain that 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten's parents felt when they learned that she had been strangled and stabbed to death was just as intense.

Or what about the mother of Donovan Maldonado, a 7-year-old Fresno boy who was killed when the vehicle he, his father and 18-month-old sister were riding in was struck by a drunk driver last month?

Some argue that, while the grief is the same as that felt by the parents of the Connecticut students, the anger isn't because the drunk driver didn't intend to kill anyone like the gunman did. I don't agree. Everyone knows that when you get behind the wheel after drinking, bad things can happen. Both incidents were avoidable; therefore, the outrage and anger should be the same.

But, the question remains: What do we do? Again, there are no quick and easy answers, if any. But, above all, we must value life. That means looking at all violent and senseless deaths in the same way and being willing to have honest discussions with one another about what we can do to keep them from happening.

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