I was in London when the Newtown massacre occurred. As a father of four and like so many others, the event devastated me and left me searching for answers. Realizing my American status, some Brits would ask me how Americans could tolerate these massacres. I had no answers, but wanted them. To make matters worse, waiting to board the airplane home, I received a text from my wife that a young man had been shot and killed behind our property in St Paul, MN. The nine-hour flight home provided ample time to reflect. It was obvious to me that the solution is to completely disarm, similar to the UK or Australia.
Does disarming seem radical? For many, yes it does. However, when you consider that between 2007 and 2010 over 120,000 Americans died as a result of guns, it does not seem so radical. In the United States, we seem to look the other direction, as if this problem will go away or is not important enough. Face it; gun ownership is as much about machismo as it is about sportsmanship. To pack a gun or stand your ground is vitally important to many Americans, just ask the retired police captain in Florida who shot and killed a young father who was texting in a movie theater.
During the songwriting of our new War Poets album, I wanted to share our view of USA gun violence in story and song. Where Has Love Gone is a song about love replaced by hatred and senseless violence. It is personalized by portraying the storyteller’s own fear of guns in his neighborhood with references to the historic war poets that first challenged governments’ positions on waging war.
To pass the message on, one must be passionate about the need for disarmament and willing to take a courageous stand in the face of fanatics that would shoot if given the chance. So what can we do? Here’s are some suggestions:
1. Get involved. All you need to do is an online search: prevent gun violence. There are many organizations to become involved with. Share your opinions with them and participate in their activities. These grassroots efforts will grow and become a larger consensus voice, as more people express their outrage and demand for change.
2. Contacting lawmakers can be frustrating, especially if your view doesn’t register well with them. However, they’re elected and nothing gets their attention more if they think they cannot be re-elected. If enough people contact lawmakers, a shift in their activity will occur. The message is clear: substantial change is necessary and that means disarming the country with rare exceptions.
3. Don’t be afraid. There’s an incredible amount of money behind propagating guns. There’s one interest: profits. The USA has 310 million guns. Gun makers make millions and want to protect their pocketbooks. They have a powerful lobby and congress behind them. However, just like tobacco companies, congress will change their views if the demand for change overwhelms the lobby. Be steadfast in your voice and don’t be afraid of the lobby’s actions to discount the facts and sabotage the efforts.
4. Promote a worldview. America is part of a global community; economically, scientifically, and socially. There is a constant exchange of ideas worldwide. Our closest allies have taken the lead in how a society should handle gun ownership and access. Traveling to London is an eye opener where no one has guns, not even the police. Why is it that our country doesn’t see itself as part of this global initiative? The machismo behind guns in America is a sickness that is eroding the very stability we seek. Do we want a society where every mall, store, movie theater, and other public places are guarded by metal detectors and police? Is an American police state what we want? Where is the freedom with that? Or do we want to be part of a larger global community where people are really free?
5. Understand the intention of the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment was written in the 18th century and was written to provide a way for militias to be recruited by the government to help fight off foreign invasions, and was written so that local militias can protect the people against a dysfunctional central government. Times are different now and needs are different. There is no issue with gun ownership for legal hunting and sportsmanship. There is no 2nd Amendment issue with making the gun owners register with the government and license their guns. There is no 2nd Amendment issue to completely disarm the country except for fully licensed and controlled guns. To be more specific, the only guns that should be allowed outside of highly controlled gun clubs are ones used for legal hunting and farmers protecting their livelihood. Yes, you can own a gun, but it must be licensed. No one can own an assault gun. No one can own a pistol. No one can own an automatic weapon. To put this in perspective, no one can own a grenade launcher either.
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