Whose side are you on?



Whether you are rich or poor, smart or dumb, handsome, beautiful, ugly or plain, charitable or selfish, belligerent or mild, you could not help but be moved by the group picture of the 20 first graders massacred in Newtown, Conn., last December. All of those beautiful, innocent faces wiped off the earth forever. And the six adults who tried to protect them. Gone. All gone.

And despite the instant revulsion of the public, including fervent gun fanciers, nothing has happened in the past three months that will alleviate the dangers from death-dealing instruments. Gun control is in danger of being phased into old news. President Barack Obama is worried about this.

He is frustrated by the reluctance of lawmakers to take on the National Rifle Association and the manic gun owners who go around yelling Second Amendment rights to those who listen and those who couldn't care less.


In a White House conference, in front of an audience of mothers of gun victims, the president stated forcefully: "Less than 100 days ago that happened, and the entire country was shocked and the entire country pledged we would do something about it and this time would be different. Shame on us if we've forgotten. I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we've forgotten."

We are now a nation of gun carriers. Eight million men and women are the proud possessors of concealed-carry handgun permits. There are reportedly 300 million guns on the loose in this country, many of them capable of wiping out a whole village before anybody can take a deep breath.

When the police searched the house of Adam Lanza, the young man who destroyed the lives of 26 families in Newtown, they found an assortment of weapons -- guns, knives, samurai swords, hundreds of bullets, manuals on the use of weapons and various news clippings about gun deaths.

Lanza used a Bushmaster XM15-E2S with a 30-cartridge magazine for the school killings and also carried two semiautomatic handguns on his belt. He killed his mother with a . 22-caliber rifle with a shot to the head while she lay in bed. All of the guns had been purchased legally by Lanza's mother.

The police found 154 shell casings on the floor of the school that indicated how potent a weapon the Bushmaster is because all 26 killings took place within a span of five minutes. In an unlocked gun safe in the Lanza home they found hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Mrs. Lanza has been described as a pleasant, generous person who was fascinated by guns.

Although the National Rifle Association has stated that it found no record of any Lanzas being among their members, police found a certificate from the NRA with Adam Lanza's name on it. The plot thickens.

Why has the public's desire for tougher gun control lessened 10 percent in the past three months? Many people cite the president's lassitude in pursuing the matter. He has obviously heard about this and it rankles.

"The notion that two months or three months after something as horrific as what happened in Newtown happens and we've moved on to other things?" a frustrated Obama asked. "That's not who we are. That's not who we are. And I want to make sure every American is listening today."


There are five Republican senators who think that's who we are. Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and James Inhofe of Oklahoma have pledged to filibuster "any additional gun restrictions." And Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley has put his own version of a gun bill up for grabs.

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has already stripped his bill of meaningful changes. He has given up on banning semiautomatic guns and high capacity magazines because he feels there isn't a chance of passing anything that drastic. Drastic to whom?

Slate magazine and Twitter have given themselves the obligation to report on gun deaths in the United States since the Newtown massacre. As this is being written, they have tallied 3,219. That's the number of deaths that have occurred so far. What do you think the end-of-year total will be?

It is probable that most of you have seen the photographs of all the children who were murdered. And the six adults. Keep thinking of those pictures. And the families. Whose side are you on?

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle contributor.


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