Many people who came of age in the 1960’s remember the Bob Dylan song, “Blowin in the Wind,” which asked a series of questions that probed the ethos of that age. Today as I read of the shooting deaths of nine people in Tucson, AZ and the serious injury to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the words of the third verse of that song seemed particularly pertinent:
How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky?
How many ears must one man have,
before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take till he knows
that too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin in the wind;
the answer is blowin in the wind.
Not a day goes when we don’t hear of another senseless death due to proliferation of guns. Tragically and ironically, one of the people killed in the Tucson murders was U.S. District Judge John Roll, who had recently ruled against more stringent background checks on gun purchasers. The man who committed these latest murders had put up YouTube videos indicating his mental and emotional imbalance, and his disgust for politicians. Rep Giffords herself had boasted during last fall’s campaign that she packed a gun and knew how to use it. Ironically, the same model gun was used to shoot her in the head. While our government spends billions of dollars to protect us from outside terrorists, and more billions to keep out immigrants, it is the people who we pass on the street or the mall everyday who represent the greatest threat to our safety.
Not long ago, a friend of mine had a gun pulled on her at a gas station because a woman thought she my friend had cut her off. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it was yet another example of the danger we face from total strangers, or in some case neighbors, and even loved ones wielding guns in a moment of rage or at the end of their emotional rope.
Now I am sure the pro-gun lobby and the NRA are spinning their tired response that it is not guns that kill people but people who kill people. However, as this and every other senseless killing indicates, it is people with guns that kill people. Therefore we must have laws and policies that carefully and regularly monitors those have been granted the right carry a gun. The U.S. is the only developed country in the world that allows such lax laws when it comes to the management and control of firearms. As Bob Dylan asks: How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died, and that one way to address that question is to put common sense controls and background checks on those people who desire to own and use guns, especially guns designed solely for killing people.
The answer my friends is blowin in the wind, but it need not. The answer is right there is front of us, if we pressure our legislators to require stronger background checks on all gun purchases, and that we regularly monitor those who have been granted the right to carry a handgun (whose only purpose is to shoot people), and to determine if they have a legitimate need for such a firearm.
How many tears must be shed, before we can hear people’s cries? How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people died? How many Columbines, Virginia Techs and Tucsons will it take. The answer is there…. if we only bother to listen.