Now Is the Time

Mourn, and Be Angry

We should mourn, but we should be angry.

The horror in Newtown, Conn., should shake us out of the cowardice, the fear, the evasion and the opportunism that prevent our political system from acting to curb gun violence.

How often must we note that no other developed country has such massacres on a regular basis because no other comparable nation allows such easy access to guns? And on no subject other than ungodly episodes involving guns are those who respond logically by demanding solutions accused of "politicizing tragedy."

It is time to insist that such craven propaganda will no longer be taken seriously. If Congress does not act this time, we can deem it as totally bought and paid for by the representatives of gun manufacturers, gun dealers and their very well-compensated apologists. A former senior Obama administration official once made this comment to me: "If progressives are so worked up about how Washington is controlled by the banks and Wall Street, why aren't they just as worked up by the power of the gun lobby?" It is a good question.

There was a different quality to President Obama's response to this mass shooting, both initially and during his Sunday pilgrimage to offer comfort to the families of victims. I think I know why. It is not just that 20 young children were killed, although that would be enough.

For some months now, there have been rumblings from the administration that Obama has been unhappy with his own policy passivity in responding to earlier mass shootings and was prepared in his second term to propose tough steps to deal with our national madness on firearms.

He spoke in Newtown in solidarity with the suffering, but pointed toward action. No, he said, we are not "doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm." He added: "We will have to change."

And his initial statement Friday pointed to his exasperation. "We have been through this too many times," he said, reciting our national litany of unspeakable events, and insisting that we will "have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."

"Regardless of the politics." That is what it will take. This phrase comes easily to a president who just fought his last election, but he and the rest of us must change the politics of guns for those who will face the voters again. We cannot just be sad. We must be angry. We cannot just shake our heads. We must wield our votes and declare that curbing gun violence is not one issue among many but a paramount concern for our country.

And we will have to avoid the paralysis induced by those who cast every mass shooting as the work of one deranged individual and never ever the result of flawed policies. We must beware of those who invoke complexity not to further understanding but to encourage passivity and resignation.

Yes, every social problem and every act of violence have complicated roots. But we already know that it is far too easy to obtain guns in the United States and far too difficult to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. And we already know that weapons are available that should not even be sold.

What, minimally, might "meaningful action" look like? We should begin with: bans on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons; requiring background checks for all gun purchases; stricter laws to make sure that gun owners follow safety procedures; new steps to make it easier to trace guns used in crimes; and vastly ramped-up data collection and research on what works to prevent gun violence, both of which are regularly blocked by the gun lobby.

After mass shootings, it's always said we must improve our mental-health system and the treatment of those who may be prone to violence. Of course we should. But this noble sentiment is too often part of a strategy to evade any action on guns themselves.

Not this time. Americans are not the only people in the world who confront mental-health problems. We are the only country that regularly experiences horrors of this sort. The difference, as the writer Garry Wills has said, is that the United States treats the gun as a secular god, immune to rational analysis and human intervention.

We must depose the false deity. We must act now to curb gun violence, or we never will. 

(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group



About the Author

E. J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist, professor of government at Georgetown University, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent (Bloomsbury Press).



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One solution; I suggest that since the mother bought guns and brought them home and maybe the father supported this with his child support payments, a home with a mental ill child,  their estates should be held by tort law to be responsible for damages to 26 children and adults and families. . A multi- million dollar award would have an immediate effect on the gun culture. 'Your guns are libel for all damages they cause, just like your car' and gun insurance is about $3000 a year' Money talks best in our culture. '  

We have become a nation of violence. Our culture and media love it, it gives them a grusome story to sell their wares. Just looked thru the Big 5 ads on Sunday: you are invited to buy a "youth .22 rifle" that is named "the Rascal." If you want something more "military" they sell an imitation of the Colt AR14 assault rifle for $499. You can look tough and mean while still just shootiing .22 cal ammunition. At whom? Look also at the configuration of paint guns - obviously meant to train people in the art and science of assault. Scared to be home alone? Buy your loved one a short-barrelled 12 ga. shotgun with a 6 round magazine. Better knock three times before entering your home...

Ed, you may be on to something! Money talks.

Ed does have a very good idea and one that could be supported by gun advocates and opponents. My wife said to me shortly after learning that the guns used in the massacre belonged to the young man's mother, "what was a woman doing with a house full of guns and an obviously mentally disturbed son living there?" Indeed, what was she doing? Having to pay a premium for gun insurance should make people more thoughtful when purchasing guns and more careful as to how they store and use them. A tragedy like that in Newtown might have been prevented as might many others. However, to put emphasis only on stricter gun control would be, in my opinion, a mistake and a missed opportunity to examine broadly and in depth the "culture of violence" that seems to have insidiously blossomed in this country. We should, as some are now suggesting, put together a blue-ribbon, non-partisan panel to examine the issues of widespread automatic and semi-automatic weapons, the effects of violent video games, movies, music and the whole range of popular culture, our poor support of programs to identify and help individuals with mental problems that might lead to violence and, I beleive, the effects of "endless war" on the psyche of our citizens.


Unfortunately the people in Newtown were evidently strong opponents of gun restrictions:

It's very sad that the fallacy of their thinking had to be brought home to them in this manner.


The other thing other countries have is access to healthcare, especially mental healthcare. This is of paramount importance as the mentally ill in this country usually end up in jail as that is the only resource. And what do they learn there, violence. We talk about being a compassionate and caring country. We through money all over the world to prove it. Can we just throw a little at mental health organizations to help these people instead of cutting back on them every time the rich need a new infusion of cash and crash the economy.


Patricia it was under Jimmy Carter, that the left/ACLU, felt that the mentally ill were being denied civil rights, so they emptied and closed many of the hospitals, making it very difficult for even the severly mentally ill to be committed.  Consequently, most simply went to the streets. Even worse, CT is one of the most liberal states on mental health, just recently voting down more care for the mentally ill.

Here's a very interesting, sad, and real story that should make us all pause to consider the needs of the mentally ill, and the fine line between allowing them their dignity while at the same time, protecting society.

E.J. Dionne Jr. words of exploitation regarding the catastrophic events in Newtown, CT are more than insensitve, they are cold and heartless.  For heaven's sake these little children haven't been laid to rest and he's calling for action?  People on the left like Dionne exploit the carnage for gun control while people on the right exploit the slaughter for anti-abortion rhetoric, both say "See! I told you so!!"  What about the parents?  The brothers and sisters?  The grandparents?  The neighbor?  The classmate?  The myopia exhibited by such political commentators serves as a bellwether for pariahs. Bury the precious children.  Hug the grieving.  And keep your cheap political comments to yourself until the dead are buried, which is a Corporal Work of MERCY.

PS:  Mr. Dionne, Jr. Please attempt to follow this class act from of all places Saturday Night Live SNL

Rev Holland wants "time' so the NRA and Gun Manufacturers  can get their talking points together and a fund raiser for bribes and campaign contributions. I bet he is a gun owner and " cold and heartless'   

Ed Gleason shame on you for such a cruel accusation to a Catholic Priest, which BTW, speaks volumes!

  This might be "news" to you Ed but we have a Bill of Rights in this country, allowing ALL of us the right to protect ourselves, families, and human life with guns when and if necessary, and God forbid, if the day ever comes, from a tyrannical government.

One could certainly have a "hey day" on the politics of this, especially on a Catholic blog in a country that just elected a president, again winning the 'Catholic' Vote on a party platform of intrinisic evils. 

So I too Mr. Dionne, call you out on an your insensitive article  which would even be out of  bounds had it been on  the Huffington Post this soon after the deaths of 26 souls!  

How refreshing it would have been and what an opportunity you had to take this into the spiritual realm of evil and the power of light over darkness, as the two can never coexhist.  Only in Catholic Theology can at least some sense be made of  the great mysteries of evil, suffering, and the power of healing throught our sacraments, especially the Eucharist/Holy Mass.  Perhaps had you done that, we could now be having an intelligent discussion on the "politically incorrect" things like cultural  sin and its consequences, and how we are all connected, in the Body of Christ, for better or for worse.  Most of all, we would be hitting on the real root of all our problems in this country, many that only Christ can heal.

So, yes, maybe "Now is the time."  The time for real men to stand up and be real Catholics.  As Fulton Sheen once said (paraphrased):   "Even a dead body can float downstream, but it takes a real man, a real Catholic, to stand up and be counted and go against the stream." 

Until of if we get enough "real men" to do just that, and spread the Light of Christ,  rest assured our probems will not be solved by "gun control." If however, that is how you choose to use your God-given extraordinary intelligence, so be it. 





EJ might think guns are responsible; I think people like EJ and me are -- you know, people who've lived most of our lives while a million and a half other innocents are being slaughtered around us every year.

Here is THE answer Patricia [whoever?] "REAL MEN" don't need to have or carry guns.. except soldiers or police. You and the rev.? should be ashamed defending gun ownership. The issue has changed... so gun ownership and defence of it will be like porn..your arguments are exactly like those that want porn freedom.  

Wow Ed Gleason you are a very angry individual.  I am relieved you do not carry a rifle or pistol.

Rev Holland and Patricia attack personally. I don't own or carry how about you. I say you should be ashamed to defend gun proliferation.  I guess Jesus was too angry for you at the temple.. Go to your country club and talk guns with the polite hypocrites there.. . 

This is worth reading and considering.


Patricia:  let me clue you in on something.  Catholic priests or anyone else is NOT immune from criticism when they make statements with which someone disagrees.


The sooner that you and all other Catholics learn this, the quicker you will be come adults in a church that prefers you to remain as a sheep.

With rights come duties.  We require people who drive a car to take a test to get a driver’s license.  We then retest them regularly to make sure they are still capable of driving safely.  We require car owners to pay annually for a license for each car they own.  All drivers are required to have auto insurance which covers each car they own. 


My suggestion is that we follow the same protocol for owning guns as we do for autos.  Before anyone can buy a gun, they would have to do the following:


1.      Get training in the safe use of guns.

2.      Apply for, take a test, and pay an annual license fee to get a license to own a gun.

3.      Purchase gun ownership insurance to cover liability if the gun is used in the commission of a crime or accidental shooting.

4.      Show their license and proof of gun owner insurance before buying a gun from a gun dealer.


Once people own one or more guns, they would have to pay to renew their license for each gun annually.   They would also be retested every five years in order to get their gun owner’s license renewed.


In terms of gun sellers, if they sell a gun to someone who does not possess a gun owner’s license and has proof of gun owner insurance, they will be in violation of the law.  Also, gun sellers will be required to carry liability insurance if one of the guns they sell is to someone who does not have a gun owner’s license and liability insurance.


People can still have as many guns as they like.  They just have to be trained and licensed to own a gun and pay for insurance which covers the losses associated with the use of guns.  This proposal will not stop all of the deaths and serious injuries now inflicted by guns on others.  People will still get guns illegally, but with licensing and insurance requirements, it will reduce the number of guns in circulation in our country.  And those who violate the licensing and insurance requirements would be fined on an escalating basis up to and including incarceration. 

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