State Police at the State Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
I sat in Room 426 of the State Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan, on a recent December morning. When my name was called, I walked to a small table, sat down, and addressed a committee of state legislators considering Senate Bill 59 which would allow persons carrying concealed handguns to enter schools, day care centers, sporting arenas, bars and taverns, and houses of worship.
I spoke for less than three minutes. I said this bill takes our country in the wrong direction. What we need, I pleaded, is not more guns and more people carrying guns, but tighter gun laws like those in Canada, England, Germany, and Japan. Ultimately, we should strive for fewer guns, not more.
Two of the fifteen legislators nodded in agreement; the majority of them stared at me like I had arrived from another planet. The legislator who had earlier defended the bill by saying to his colleagues, “You don’t take away from an obese person his eating utensils,” never looked my way while I was talking.
The committee voted in favor of the bill; later that same week it passed in the full legislature. Now, a version of the bill sits on the desk of Governor Rick Snyder, awaiting his signature. Since the day of the vote, 26 people were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, 20 of them children. Among the six adults killed were Dawn Hochsprung, the school’s beloved principal, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach.
Former presidential aspirant and Fox News commentator, Mike Huckabee came out with his explanation for the carnage saying: “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools.” Sounds reasonable, but last time I checked there is nothing of God in the public schools of Canada, England, Germany, and Japan. Yet, these countries have nowhere near the gun violence we do.
I highly recommend the responsible and reasonable treatment offered by the folks at www.bradycampaign.org. Their mission statement includes the following: We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities. The Brady Campaign works to pass and enforce sensible federal and state gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support common sense gun laws, and increasing public awareness of gun violence.
For now, we mourn with those who mourn the senseless deaths of their children, siblings, grandchildren, students, schoolmates, and spouses at Sandy Hook Elementary School.