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Sunday, 17 March 2019 20:59

Thoughts From Your SCPA President

Thoughts From Your SCPA President.

                                                                         -- Phil Stasik 

The horror of mass murder in the peaceful and progressive nation of New Zealand has been yet another reminder that there seems to be no limit to man’s inhumanity. We can be so cruel to each other, to animals, and to the world around us, and when an angry human picks up a gun, the power of his hate is magnified many times over.

When I learned of the shooting in Christchurch, I called my friend and SCPA vice president Raed Alshaibi, to express my horror and sadness, that once again, Muslims have been targeted in another brutal terrorist attack. In his wisdom, Raed reminded me that evil men with powerful guns seem to be lashing out at innocent victims of all religions, backgrounds, and races, everywhere. Muslims are not the only victims. We all are.

We are all potential targets of angry men, infected with hate and emboldened by guns.

Over the past decade and a half, my wife Linda and I have spent about six months diving in the waters around, and exploring the beauty of Australia and New Zealand. We’ve walked the streets of Christchurch, and have come to love the peaceful and progressive nature of New Zealanders, or Kiwis – as they prefer to be known. It tears at our hearts to imagine those streets running with the blood of innocent worshippers who had finally found sanctuary from the wars that continue to ravage their home countries in East Africa and the Middle East.

But what can be done? Perhaps the Australians have given us some clues.

A few years ago, Linda and I toured the historic and infamous Prison at Port Arthur on the Australian island of Tasmania, where, in the mid-1800s, English prisoners were brutally incarcerated by the thousands. It was shut down 140 years ago, and has become an interesting and educational, world-class historical site.

In 1996, (before our visit) it was also the scene of a mass shooting, where an angry Australian man mowed down 35 tourists and staff with two semi-automatic, military-style rifles (an AR-10 and an AR-15) and a shotgun. Many more were seriously wounded. We were moved to tears by the bronze plaque that explains the grizzly details of the shooting at the entrance to the site’s Memorial Garden. The beauty and peaceful nature of the place belie the horrors that haunt the grounds, and the memories of the surviving families and staff members. 

The Port Arthur Massacre shocked Aussies to their core. An entire nation of very independent and proud people wisely rose-up to demand action to prevent another mass shooting. They passed some of the most powerful gun control laws on earth. Thousands of Aussie gun owners participated in a gun buy-back, and willingly and dutifully turned-in their “un-needed” guns to be destroyed.

There has not been another mass shooting on Australian soil since. Ironically, it was a 28 year-old Australian man who was the primary (maybe only) shooter, in Christchurch. The Kiwis are about to take a very close, hard look at that. I'll bet that they will show us the way.

What is it about Australians that allowed them to recognize the inherent danger from guns, and take action to protect their citizens? Most Americans seem horrified by the epidemic of mass shootings on our soil, but we seem to be paralyzed from taking action as the Aussies did.

The common thread in most of these mass shootings is: Hate-filled men with guns.  We can’t eliminate hate. We can’t eliminate men. But we can eliminate guns, and guns in the wrong hands.

It will take real leadership to change our gun laws and our Constitution.

A few hours after the shooting, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, said: “Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home – and it is their home. They are us! The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.” She said this spontaneously, without the use of a teleprompter.

I believe that the current President of The United States is not capable of making a statement like that. He probably would not understand it, if he heard it. He is incapable of empathy, and that makes him a very dangerous man, indeed.

As more and more Americans die in acts of gun violence, we will not be able to depend on our president, our legislators, our governor or our county sheriff to take action to protect us. Most of them want more guns in the hands of Americans.

That is insanity.

Less than 30% of Americans actually own guns. Only 3% own 50% of those guns. So why can’t the vast majority of us rise up, like the Aussies did a quarter century ago, to fix our own laws? More than 2/3 of us don’t own guns, and the majority of all Americans, including the vast majority of current gun owners, want more stringent background checks and other “common sense” gun control measures that other developed countries enjoy today.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not carved in stone. The Constitution was written to be a living document. It should be clarified and tightened. It’s time to fix the Second Amendment to protect the living!

We examined this very powerful topic in our “Guns: Designed to kill” event last July. We encourage you to join “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” by clicking here: Moms Demand Action, or “The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence” by clicking here: The Brady Campaign. Perhaps you would prefer the “Sandy Hook Promise”: Sandy Hook Promise or Gabby Giffords’ PAC: Gabby Giffords.

Please take action. Please just do something positive! Now.