Letter: Balance

Letter to the Editor

Another mass shooting at a place of worship took place at a synagogue in Poway. Its rabbi, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, proudly described how his congregation evacuated the synagogue within seconds after a 19-year-old with an assault rifle started shooting. As thousands of other congregations began doing after the recent mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, his congregation practiced active shooter drills prior to the shooting. When houses of worship feel compelled to spend time practicing active shooter drills, that abridges their freedom of religion. Thousands of schools are practicing active shooter drills, terrorizing hundreds of thousands of students and undermining their freedom to learn in a safe environment. Thousands of American mothers live in fear of their abusive partners but are afraid to leave them because the abusive partner has threatened to use a gun to kill them and their children if she leaves him (nearly one million people have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner). The continued freedom of domestic abusers to own and use guns at will abridges these mothers’ freedom. Thousands of children raised under threat of death by a gun-toting family member end up dropping out of high school, using illicit drugs and spending time in prison. Tens of thousands of parents lose a child to gun suicide every year in the U.S. (22,938 in 2016), a parent’s worst nightmare. Assuring 19-year-olds the right to procure and use firearms whenever and wherever they want, unregulated by the police or the military, entails enormous costs and reductions in freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly. As long as this country privileges the right of 19-year-olds to purchase and operate firearms wherever and whenever they want, the U.S. can expect to continue lagging behind its economically advanced competitors in high school graduation rates (No. 22 out of 27 advanced countries), in life expectancy (No. 25 out of 35 OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries) and in keeping its citizens out of prison (No. 35 out of 35 OECD countries). The extremist interpretation of the Second Amendment already harms more than it protects; more balance is needed.

William McCarthy