LETTERS: Schreibman offers thoughts on the Newtown tragedy

To the editor:

As a lawyer, I think reasonable people can disagree about the meaning of the Second Amendment. Like most constitutional provisions, its language is abstract and susceptible of different interpretations. Does it only confer the right to bear arms on “well regulated” state militias or does it extend this right to individuals?

Both sides to this debate can marshal logic and history in support.

What is not debatable is that the Second Amendment is law. And like any law, its purpose is to create order, not mayhem. But mayhem is what we’ve got. And it’s got to stop.

This insanity has got to stop. However you read the Second Amendment, it cannot be read to accommodate the massacre of 20 children.

The only way to honor the memory of the 20 first graders slaughtered at Newtown, Conn. and the six heroic teachers who died trying to protect them, is to create a country that is safe for all the children who remain. But a nation awash in guns, where the National Rifle Association lobbies for laws permitting guns in schools, is far from that.

Of all the heart-breaking photos to emerge from Newtown, the one that really haunts me shows a child staring from a school bus window as his bus passes the funeral for one of his murdered schoolmates. This is one worried-looking kid.

He’s right to be worried. It is a national disgrace that the child in this photo is worried — realistically — whether he’s next.

This is a great country. It cannot be that we are powerless to protect our children. Meaningful regulation of the type of gun used at Newtown — rapid firing, semi-automatic firearms — must be enacted. And the NRA be damned.

These weapons, both long guns and hand guns, are designed solely for killing people — for killing a lot of them, and killing them quickly. They are combat weapons. Without their easy availability, there will still be gun violence. But there’ll be a lot less mayhem — these horrific massacres of multitudes within minutes.

I am a heretic. I believe in the Manichean heresy — a heresy that got people burned at the stake in the Middle Ages. Here is my heretical belief: God is loving and merciful but not all powerful. God needs our help. If good is to triumph over evil, God needs our help. When we fail to provide it, the Holocaust happens. And so does Newtown.

So let’s provide it. Support reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons. No civilian needs combat weapons.

Not for hunting, and not for burglars.

Barry Schreibman


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