We must change our hearts, minds

Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

While I am sure we are all suffering from compassion fatigue over the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. this past week, I feel compelled to comment in the wake of such a horrific event.

We are all saddened and scarred by the senseless murder of innocent children and their teachers and protectors. It is one of those culture-changing moments in American history and I hope we are able to fathom a way to prevent the recurrence of such appalling incidences. If you follow the news you will know that in the past year vigilant citizens and law enforcement have averted several other planned or attempted mass killings at schools and businesses. You will also have heard that there is currently a groundswell of sentiment toward exacting gun control in our country.

As odd as you may think it to be for a priest, I possess a concealed carry license that is good in almost every state in the union. I was raised with guns since my dad was an avid hunter and so I learned from an early age how to safely and sanely use both long guns and hand guns, and all modesty aside I am quite good with both. I am also an advocate of strict gun control. Just as we have to be trained and licensed to operate an automobile after a certain age of maturity, so we should all be taught how to safely and appropriately handle firearms. We should also then have to pass a skill test and a psychological screening in order to be allowed to own and possess one.

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You see, the issue in tragedies like Sandy Hook is not in the ownership of guns, but in the responsible possession of any weapon that can take the life of another human being. There are hundreds of thousands of sensible, stable, mature adults in our country who own firearms; they and their guns are not the issue. The issue is rooted in the fact that we as a nation have failed to provide adequate means of accountability that can prevent unstable individuals from engaging in destructive acts of extreme violence. I could walk out of my office this morning and purchase a weapon before noon with little or no accountability. It is that easy and that wrong.