Stop The Free Fall


phil_jacobs_smallI can’t get Newtown, Conn., out of my thoughts. It’s only been a little more than two weeks since Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and started killing children.

The other day, I read another tragic story about the killing of a young girl. She wasn’t a soldier on the front lines in Afghanistan or in the war on terror, protecting our liberties. She wasn’t a police officer in a dangerous, gang-infested neighborhood. Aalyiah Boyer was killed standing in the front yard of her Elkton home watching New Year’s Eve fireworks. She was only 10.

I believe in a person’s right to bear arms and in the Second Amendment.

When a person takes a gun, walks outside and uses the excuse of July 4th or New Year’s Eve to discharge that weapon — pointed straight up in the air — how can they not know that the bullets won’t fall in the wrong place and hurt or kill someone?

When will enough be enough? When will the humanity lobby be more important than fearful elected officials looking over their collective shoulders at the gun lobby? Do you really need to own the type of weapon Navy Seals used to kill Osama Bin Laden? What are you going to do, riddle a deer’s body with military firepower? Maybe we should also be able to own a tank or a heavy artillery piece. How about surface-to-air missiles?

There aren’t going to be nightly vigils held in Elkton for Aaliyah. CNN isn’t sending Anderson Cooper there. Nor is there continuing network coverage every time a child is shot by an errant bullet in America. Citizens die by gunfire watching a Batman movie, listening to their congresswoman speak outside a suburban grocery store and responding to a fire. Since a killer took the lives of innocents in an elementary school classroom, who isn’t vulnerable?

Shouldn’t we be able to walk safely on our streets, go to the movies or to school without this? There’s something broken here, something immoral, something wrong.

If the United States truly is the greatest country in the world, then why are there mass shootings?

Why is it that the FBI recorded a record 2.78 million background checks for gun purchases in December? That’s a 49 percent increase from December 2011.  Some gun stores ran out of inventory.

Many times I’ve heard and read arguments from gun owners — after a mass shooting — about the protection of their rights and that gun control will take away those rights.

Shouldn’t Aalyiah Boyer have the right to walk outside to celebrate New Year’s Eve?

All sides in this gun mess are screaming so loudly at one another, nobody’s listening.

About three years ago, a friend took me shooting at an indoor range for the first time. Before I even touched the gun, he spent the good part of an hour educating me on gun safety. I respected that I had a gun in my hand when he taught how to pick it up from the table and how to set it back down.

FBI criminal background checks aren’t enough. Somewhere in the gun-purchasing process, a person needs to prove mental competency to qualify. Because now we’re a nation where the mass shooting of the century has become the mass shooting of the year or even of the month.

We need to remember the name Aalyiah. Like the roots of her name, “aliyah, we need to ascend and stop this unconscionable free fall.

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