Six Minutes and Twenty Seconds of Silence

It is Saturday, March 24, early afternoon. I’m in my office upstairs and my wife is downstairs watching the March of Our Lives on TV. We intended to go to Washington today and join the children, but were unable to do it. So we’re stuck at home thinking of them.

Honestly, I didn’t want to blog again about gun control and gun violence. This is not what my blog should be about. But I can’t avoid it, because the topic is on my mind and it hurts. Gun violence — how atrocious, gratuitous, and unnecessary! How preventable! How primitive and how cheap!

Sounds from the students’ speeches and the singers reach upstairs and keep me on edge.

Now it is quiet: Emma Gonzales’ 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence piercing my world.

A few years ago we went on a tour of the mountainous surroundings of Wellington, New Zeeland. Our Maori driver and guide took us to an isolated house on top of a mountain for a short rest. The host and owner of the house who knew we were from America welcomed us in his spacious living room. Panoramic windows provided breathtaking views. “You have it all screwed up over there in America,” he told us after saying hello. Then he explained. He was referring to guns.

Upon reflecting on our host’s straightforward statement, I realized he was right. The fact that this man, separated from us by oceans and multiple time zones, was able to focus and single out this particular element of our American life, made his comment memorable. Yes, it’s screwed up. No civilized country in this world has gun laws as loose as America does, and we pay the price.

I hear the marching children scream on TV. They are asking for change, and the change they want is a first step. They are censuring themselves, because the gun lobby is strong, and our children are afraid of demanding too much.

And I imagine the politicians in the background watching them and shaking their heads. They will promise the changes, but they will never deliver, or will deliver in meaningless increments, and later will say that changes don’t help. Why do it at all?

I’ve seen it before.

A few nights ago I heard Bill Maher say that when it comes to gun control most democrats are weak. They start the debate with the words “I am a proponent of the second amendment, but…”

No, don’t be a proponent. Have guts and stand for the truth. The children marching in Washington and the other 800 places around the world today should go all the way. Get the guns — all of them! Like in every other country in the world, gun ownership should be a privilege, not a right. Tinkering at the edges won’t help. The second amendment and its interpretation need to change.

I know what you’ll say. Why punish the proud, law abiding gun owners? This is so un-American, wow! This is never going to work. That’s what gun advocates feared all along, and your arguments are proving them right.

Remember when America smoked? If you are my age you will remember people smoking at work, in restaurants, in elevators and at the movies. One, two, three packs a day. Young and old, rich and poor, pregnant or mother of five. And then, almost overnight everything changed, and people demanded and agreed to give up cigarettes. Cultural changes are possible and necessary as we evolve as a society. Revising our attitude towards gun ownership is such a necessary shift.

When the marching students are yelling “Change!” they want all guns to go away. They might not know it, or they might be afraid of saying it, but that’s what they need.

It is clear to me that the NRA wants to keep the gun sales going because that’s how they make their money. It’s not ideology — it’s greed. And the politicians march to their tune.

A few blogs ago I asked my readers to explain why a human being would ever want to possess a device designed for the single purpose of killing other human beings as quickly and efficiently as possible. I got a few answers from gun collectors, hunters, those who want to go target shooting, and people who think they need guns for self-defense. Obviously, the first three groups are recreational users and should not be opposed to limits and barriers. Privilege is not a right. The last category is somewhat different but even they could put up with a little red tape. The hobbies and needs of these groups do not justify in any way the death of school children, or victims anywhere. Besides, defending people against violence is the role of police. If the guns were gone, the policemen would be less afraid for their lives and cases like the recent shooting of an unarmed black man in Sacramento would not happen as frequently. Don’t you agree?

OK. The march in DC has ended, and so has my blog. Yet my thoughts and my feelings are unhappily churning on.

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