In order to purchase a co-op apartment in Manhattan, you often have to supply a litany of documents, bordering on the absurd, bank statements, pay stubs, letters of recommendation, and a credit check. Once all of your documents have been probed, you typically must sit for an interview with the co-op board. For your troubles, you are then afforded the opportunity to pay exorbitant prices for your little slice of the American dream.
Imagine, for a moment, if even a shred of that vetting process was applied to weapons purchases. The worst you could do as a resident of the co-op is fail to pay maintenance each month, a financial burden for the building, no doubt, but not a matter of life and death. If, however, a person who is ill-equipped to handle a gun is permitted to make such a purchase, the consequences can be deadly.
Why is it that in order to secure a job, you must be interviewed; in order to purchase a car, you must have insurance; in order to sell alcohol, you must have a license; but in order to purchase a gun, a weapon of death, you must do none of the above?
Consider the evidence. What if Jared Lee Loughner had been required to supply two letters of recommendation and sit for an interview before purchasing his gun? Do you think he would have been able to purchase his 9mm Glock and unload 31 bullets into an Arizona parking lot, killing 6 and wounding 13, including Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords?
What if James Holmes had been required to supply two letters of recommendation, sit for an interview, and prove that he was in good mental health, before purchasing his guns? Do you think he would have been able to purchase his arsenal and unload 76 bullets into a Colorado movie theater, killing 12 and wounding 57?
And finally, what if Nancy Lanza had to prove that all members of her household were in good mental health, before purchasing a gun? What if there was a limit on the amount of guns one person can own? What if all guns were fingerprint locked, allowing the purchaser, and the purchaser alone, to use them? Do you think Adam Lanza still would have been able turn that arsenal on his mother, before unloading approximately 150 bullets into a Connecticut elementary school, killing 20 little children, and 6 brave adults?
Common sense dictates that these measures should not be controversial. Unfortunately, the debate surrounding gun violence prevention in America has long left the land of common sense. Somewhere along the line, we entered an alternate universe where a gun owner’s right to feel secure trumps a non-gun owner’s right to feel secure.
For each of the people lost to those three mass shootings, thousands more are killed in underreported daily shootings. Such incidents have become so banal, we scarcely notice them. But those incidents slowly fray our national fabric. They leave human sized bullet holes in the lives of the family members left behind.
For the victims of shootings, large and small, where has their right to life gone? Where has their right to pursue happiness gone?
Are we prepared to subsume our rights to life and the pursuit of happiness to our right to bear arms? I, for one, am not.