Kristine Kaiser: Ban military-style guns of domestic terrorists

Dec. 22, 2012 @ 12:09 AM

The day after Thanksgiving, I went to a movie theater to see “Lincoln.” The theater was packed, and everyone was eagerly anticipating the Steven Spielberg film. For a few seconds, I recalled the Aurora mass shooting.  My brief thoughts reminded me that when we deal with mass shooters who indiscriminately kill many people, we aren’t encountering perpetrators of simple violence; they are domestic terrorists.
Aurora’s shooting particularly affected me. I lived and worked in the far-eastern suburb of Denver, Colo., when I was a young adult. At one time, I knew the turf. I married my husband 33 years ago in the city. Then, it was a busy urban community. Now its name prompts the memory of a mass shooting; it is a reminder of tragedy. It saddens me.
The end result of terrorism is to make us uneasy, to make people fearful of going to the most ordinary public places, almost wary of living common lives. The Newtown incident is the ultimate act of domestic terrorism; it was an attack on our children.
Parents will always be slightly unsettled about sending their kids to school now. The mass shooters instill a national anxiety. As a result of their madness, our lives, our sense of peace, are truly eroded. Schools aren’t so safe. These shooters take a toll on us; society is a victim of their crimes. We are all changed. New worries are a part of our fabric.
Indeed domestic terrorists scar a nation’s psyche. But we pay a greater price when we let mass shootings go unanswered. No one is questioning the right to bear arms. I question the claim to have assault weapons. California Sen. Diane Feinstein is good to propose legislation to ban the military-style guns in early 2013. Citizens should finally stand up to the powerful gun lobby for our country’s well-being. If we fail to act, we assert a type of helplessness. We then forfeit solutions to a heinous problem.
Some activists suggest that we need more guns; violence will end when everyone is armed. Arm the teacher, the day-care worker, and the minister. I say that we live in a culture that cares too much about guns. Will we foster gunfights in the streets? Will we become a nation that accepts violence and condones vigilante measures? Public safety is best left to well-trained law enforcement. Also, we must accept the primacy of law.
More guns are not the answer. The gun business is booming. Guns are prevalent. People can carry a gun almost anywhere. Yet, we are not becoming a safer country.
Outgoing Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman recommends that the Senate study mass shootings, and President Obama responded Wednesday by appointing a commission to do just that. The study results might be interesting. We might come to understand the shooter’s insanity. But knowledge comes slowly and is too likely to stall the need for stricter gun laws. We can’t wait until the raw grief of the Newtown massacre fades. Our residual uneasiness will not be lesser and only increases with each horrendous event.
Mass shootings are domestic terrorism. They rob the nation of its inner peace. They destroy the country’s sense of well-being. Tell Congress to keep assault weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Assault weapons belong in war zones.
Let us not wait for another tragedy in America.

Kristine Kaiser is a writer living in Kernersville. Contact her for comments at: Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.