One father of a little Sandy Hook student refuses to keep silent anymore -- about gun control. He writes:
Why would we think that assault weapons should ever be in hands of civilians? Why are modified M-16s and Kalashnikovs sold in this country? What exactly is an appropriate civilian use for hollow-point bullets? Why do we have age limits, written and practical tests to acquire a driver’s license, but have nothing that would be at least as rigorous for acquiring a weapon that can take out countless lives?
Andre Nikitchyuk is the father of an 8-year-old boy, nicknamed "Bear," who went to school at Sandy Hook that horrible day, just like he went every other day.
But that day, Adam Lanza entered the school with a semi-automatic .223 military-style Bushmaster rifle. He had 30 clips in the round and hundreds more ready. This is a civilian firearm modeled after the military M-16 rifle and it has links to the DC sniper shootings. Yet, it is perfectly legal, and doesn't fall under the category of "assault weapon."
Andre and his son were supremely lucky that day. Bear did not end up being one of the 20 children and six adults killed in that school because a teacher grabbed him from the hallway and hid him in her classroom.
And now Andre is speaking out. He passionately continues in his essay in the New York Daily News:
I used to be part of the silent majority of people around this beautiful country that saw how weaponized and unsafe our society became, but kept our silence.
I thought guns are a part of American history. Many people know how to handle them and keep them safe. Our politicians know what they are doing and the situation will be corrected.
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, chipped at those beliefs, but I averted my eyes. On Friday, this belief has been shattered for me, my wife, my relatives and friends, and -- most important -- my kids. It’s been long overdue, but it’s clear to me I have to speak up.
Someone can say that you need a human to shoot a gun. What they are not saying is guns allow human feelings of malice and hate to be amplified. They amplify them in a way that's God-like, final and irreversible. It takes away someone's life with just a slight pull of an index finger. No one should have that power.
Judging by all of the petitions I'm seeing going around -- and from people I would have never expected -- it seems a lot of people are no longer going to stay silent. Even Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, former conservative Republican congressman and NRA supporter, has changed his mind about gun control.
I've asked people who strongly believe in the Second Amendment why they think that people would need such high-powered rifles for home and personal protection. I usually get no answer. Maybe I get a picture of the Holocaust (this seems to be a favorite response of pro-gun advocates). I hear about how the teachers should have been armed. (Again, not answering the question.)
So I'll ask again and maybe someone will give me a straight answer: WHY does anyone who is not in law enforcement or the military need a military style gun that can shoot dozens of bullets in seconds? Anyone?
I'll end with Andre's words:
Please, everyone, think of what you want this society to be for our children (if we will be able to save our children to adulthood).
Ask yourself if our current laws are really protecting our children. When they ask why "bad men" can so easily get these guns -- when countless toys and strollers are recalled at the first sign of trouble -- what will you tell them?
Have you decided to speak up about gun control?
Image via Robert Huffstutter/Flickr