Misplaced focus after Newtown massacre - USA TODAY Op-Ed - IFOA
We squandered an opportunity to discuss the divergent gun-related problems that affect the country.
Did we examine how criminals obtain guns? About 500,000 are stolen annually. No.
Did we have the open discussion Vice President Biden promised about our failed drug policy and why it encourages gun violence? No.
Did we devise and implement a non-politicized firearm safety program for our schools and communities? No.
Did we examine the inadequacies of our mental health resources to prevent future tragedies like Newtown? No, we did not.
Instead, we spent considerable time and money on another silly "food fight" over so-called assault weapons that are rarely used in crime (less than 2%).
We reinforced the perception that Democrats don't like guns (or gun owners) and Republicans simply don't care!
What's the end result? The firearm industry had a banner year, proving once again that Americans vote with their wallets, not just at the polling place — an unintended, yet eminently predictable, consequence.
No wonder the American people are frustrated with our political system. Our "leaders" don't lead. They are fixated on their media coverage, not the policy implications underlying this complex issue.
No one supports firearm accidents that injure a child or an adult.
No one wants criminals to obtain or misuse firearms.
No one encourages suicides of the depressed or mass murders by the mentally deranged.
It's time we teach firearm safety and responsibility. It's time we remove incentives encouraging criminals to use, rather than avoid, guns. It's time we provide effective help for those in mental distress.
It's time we resume the nation-building here at home that made this country special. We must take into consideration our civil liberties as well as the risks involved in crafting suitable ways of allowing our criminal justice and health care systems to protect lives — all of our lives.
Yes, we learned a lot (mostly about the inadequacies of ourselves and our politicians) since the Newtown tragedy. But we must ask: Do we have the courage to abandon the politics of dissension and embrace the policies of reconciliation?