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The untenable price of freedom

January 07, 2013
The right to bear arms.

The end result of this right as it is practiced in this country was displayed nakedly Dec. 14.

The deaths of 27 people in Newtown Connecticut has sparked a fresh push by lawmakers to ban or more heavily regulate assault weapons, efforts critics have called reactionary as people form lines to purchase assault rifles and ammunition so fast retailers can't keep supplies in stock.

This is not an academic debate about the scope of the Second Amendment or the supposed crime preventative effect of a society armed to the teeth. It is not about protecting America's greatest fetish.

This is about bloodied bodies, lost human beings and countless lives ripped apart forever. That is the price of what we consider freedom. The right to bear arms.

Some have come to view it not only as a right, but a civic responsibility, propagating the seductive untruth spread for decades: Guns protect us, they protect our children. Guns make us safer. At what point does the selfish, single-minded advocation of expansive gun rights attract some responsibility for the results that advocation produces?

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Yet people are killing people with guns again and again and again, to the absurd point that even a minor massacre is quickly absorbed in our consciousness as part of a vague memory of horrific events that lose individual distinction.

As it gets worse and worse, with each incident, the speeches come. We must do something. And yet we lose the moral and political will to do anything at all. There is no tipping point, it seems. Columbine, Virginia Tech. And now Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Already the horrific reality is beginning to fade ever so slightly, because for most of us life goes on as normal.We were not directly affected. For those who were directly affected, there is a new normal—an unrelenting pain that will never subside, will never heal. There is no getting better from this, the only way forward is to continue existing, one day after another.

Will we begin to act in a way that will start, if slowly, to turn the tide against gun violence? Or will we look the other way yet again, wring our hands, shake our heads and bow to the lobby power of the National Rifle Association and its army of enablers? How much is your assault rifle worth?

Daniel Barden, age 7

RanchelD'Avino, age 29

Olivia Engel, age 6

Dylan Hockley, age 6

Chase Kowalski, age 7

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung,age 47

Jesse Lewis, age 6

Ana Marquez-Greene, age 6

James Mattioli, age 6

Grace McDonnell, age 7

Anne Marie Murphy, age 52

Emilie Parker, age 6

Jack Pinto, age 6

Noah Pozner, age 6

Jessica Rekos, age 6

Avielle Richman, age 6

Lauren Rousseau, age 30

Mary Sherlach, age 56

Victoria Soto, age 27

Benjamin Wheeler, age 6

Josephine Gay, age 7

Madeleine Hsu, age 6

Catherine Hubbard, age 6

James Mattioli, age 6

Caroline Previdi, age 6

Allison Wyatt, age 6

That is the price. Twenty six more names on an annual list 30,000 souls long.The price of this particular unchecked freedom has long ago become too great. The moral imperative will never be stronger. The pushback must begin now.

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