Point of View: The Best Weapon

It is highly doubtful that safety can be furthered through piling even higher our already-mountainous stockpiles of firepower

   Since a well-regulated militia is no longer necessary to the security of our free state — the National Guard and well-regulated police forces ought to be ample in that regard — why should not the right to bear arms be infringed?
    It would be wonderful to have in place of the Second Amendment one that reads, “A well-educated populace being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of students to be kept out of harm’s way shall not be infringed.”
    That is, of course, fanciful given the risk that attends our lives every day, but perhaps no less fanciful than to think it’s our God-given right to shoot should we ever feel threatened. In the wake of this latest massacre, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., it is clear that our gun-deifying society (In God and Guns We Trust) must be weaned from its more lethal weapons, especially the semiautomatic avatars of impotent rage.
    It is highly doubtful that safety can be furthered through piling even higher our already-mountainous stockpiles of firepower. Are we ultimately to be turned into an armed camp? Is the land of the free to become a prison in which we are our own jailers? Is our open society to become one in which fear and the trigger-happy hold sway? This mustn’t happen. We need some counseling, and not just the psychopaths-to-be, but also those — the allegedly sane — who feel that in order to be whole they need more exotic equipment, Bushmasters, extender clips, and the like. There was a Christmas rush on them in the gun stores this past week.
    Rather than arm ourselves to the teeth, we should have the will to do everything we can to deny military weaponry and armor-piercing ammunition to our citizens, to close the huge loopholes that exist, and to avail troubled young people of psychological attention, so that, possibly, the horror of Newtown won’t be repeated.
    The greatest weapon really is knowledge. We need to know ourselves in order to function as well as we can in the world. And, every bit as important — especially when it comes to averting appalling acts of madness . . . as a matter of collective self-defense, if nothing else — we need to know each other.