Are we still here? Did the Mayan calendar accurately depict the end? Well, today is still young so there are a few hours yet for the earth to end.
Sadly, one week ago today, for many innocents the world did end. I am looking desperately for some upbeat, Christmasy story to spin and share with you, but, it seems a crazed gunman became the Grinch who stole the Christmas spirit.
To write a weekly column requires that one read much and watch the news a lot. I, for the time being, can no longer bear to watch the news or read another newspaper headline. The unfolding events of the world have etched an indelible black splotch upon my soul and upon our nation. Each week it seems there is yet another lunatic hoping to become the nation's next most successful mass killer. Too often they succeed.
Immediately thereafter we see the other crazies, the copy cats. Immediately, some will begin claiming that had there been more guns, guns of greater power, this would not have occurred. Others immediately demand seizure of all guns. Both sides are wrong.
It would also be incorrect to claim that the Connecticut massacre would have occurred even if guns did not exist, as some have. It continues to be equally incorrect to claim that the Constitution provides unfettered access to weaponry of any sort. Our founding fathers were talking of muskets and black powder handguns. They never envisioned semi-automatic and automatic weapons with high capacity clips. They never envisioned weapons spewing hundreds of bullets per minute. The weapons they knew could perhaps be shot at two-three rounds per minute with very minimal accuracy.
Their Second Amendment spoke of the need for a well-regulated militia. Why do our discussions of gun ownership never consider this portion of that amendment? We hear more of citizens needing to defend themselves from a hostile central government rather than belonging to a well-regulated militia.
The anti-gun lobby has been repeatedly rebuffed of late, including during the Obama years which seems to run counter to the noise about gun control. The NRA's power to dictate the agenda has been unchallenged from politicians in Washington D.C. and at the state level. Those seeking limiting of gun ownership or other changes have had virtually no progress on their agenda. The pro-gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby are both seemingly controlled by elements incapable of any flexibility.
On the pro side there are conspiracies at every corner. Lack of attempts to curb guns and the rights of gun owners are seen as sure signs the Armageddon of gun seizure is at hand. In fact, during the past few years the right to bear arms, to carry arms in more places has greatly expanded, not contracted. A cynical truth is that massacres feed a buying frenzy. In the immediate aftermath, the fearful buy to protect themselves; others buy to stockpile more weapons before the abolition they are sure is to follow.
The anti-gun lobby feeds the frenzy by unrelenting demands for gun control unacceptable to most gun owners. There are "common sense" controls on which most can agree. However, as earlier noted, both sides rigidly adhere to inflexible positions that only prolong the debate. Most law-abiding gun owners would be agreeable to a re-introduction of an assault weapon ban and a ban on high capacity magazines. Most Americans understand that greater access to mental health care and better identification of high-risk individuals could assist in curbing the violence that seems to be growing daily.
National tragedy once was a cause for national unity. Tragedies such as Newtown and other recent massacres have become cause for even more disharmony and division. Many call for reclamation of "our America."
I hope we realize a dream of reclaiming our America; an America where we are again civil and reasonable. I dream of an America where we do not politicize every event, an occurrence that has become less than tacky, it has displaced a proper time of national mourning and introspection.
I grieve for the children; I grieve for our nation. God bless us everyone.
Jim Hoffman is a local real estate broker and investor who is trying to move from semi-retired to retired. Find him up at Powderhorn or the Slopeside Ski Club skiing his stress away.