I own firearms. They are within a few feet of where I sit at this very moment. I’ve made no secret of that fact. They are shotguns, and I use them to hunt and shoot sporting clays.
They are empty, and the shells are kept in another part of the house. They are also secured with trigger locks and in a gun safe. Only I know where the keys to the locks and the safe are kept.
I’ve also fired an AR-15, many times. That’s the semi-automatic rifle that was used in last week’s massacre. I know the power of that weapon, and I’ve honestly had to discipline myself not to think about the damage that 3-11 rounds from that rifle would do to a 6- or 7-year old.
There is no reason to own a gun with this power. It is a military weapon. It is neither a hunting rifle, nor is it useful for personal protection. It is designed solely to kill many human beings quickly. Even gun-owners like me see no purpose in it:
“Something needs to be done,” said Joel T. Faxon, a hunter and a member of [Newtown’s] police commission, who championed the shooting restrictions. “These are not normal guns, that people need. These are guns for an arsenal, and you get lunatics like this guy who goes into a school fully armed and protected to take return fire. We live in a town, not in a war.”
You cannot own a shoulder-mounted rocket. You cannot own a live grenade. These weapons are restricted to the military. Neither should you be able to buy an assault rifle.
There are limits to your freedom.
And now comes word that Westboro Baptist “Church” is going to picket the funerals in Newtown. The fucking idiots at Westboro need to be stopped. Although it should be their coreligionists who try to silence them, it is the hacker group Anonymous, which has posted their names, emails, addresses, and phone numbers. You can call them and condemn them. I am going to.You can also sign the White House petition, asking that the fucking idiots at Westboro be declared a hate group. I have. (The Southern Poverty Law Center has already declared them a hate group.)
My buddy Fred at Slacktivist has been ruthless in recent days on the evangelicals who remain silent in the face of ultra-right hate. He’s called out Christianity Today, among others, to stand up to the “religious right” and stop giving them an unmoderated platform. He’s called on both secular and Christian media to stop going to Richard Land and Tony Perkins for soundbytes.
The fucking idiots at Westboro have the constitutional right to say what they want, but there are limits to that freedom. When that freedom inflicts personal harm on another human being — even if that harm is psychological — then that freedom can be curbed.
We’re talking here about the First Amendment and the Second Amendment. Those are important bulwarks in American constitutional democracy. But the freedoms they enshrine are not without limits. Your freedom of speech does not extend to you shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. And your freedom of religion does not extend to you throwing a virgin into a volcano, or even torturing a cat to appease Satan.
We need to ban the sale and ownership of assault rifles.
And we need to protect the grieving families of Newtown from the fucking idiots of Westboro Baptist “Church.”