Crime and Justice

Madeleine Kunin: We must find an end to this horrific slaughter

gun control
The Rev. Mara Dowdall reflects on gun violence in December 2016 in Burlington, at an anniversary vigil for the Sandy Hook school shooting that took place Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut. There, 20 children and six adults were killed. Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

This commentary is by Madeleine May Kunin, the 77th governor of Vermont, serving from 1985 until 1991. She is the author of the book “Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties.”

“I don’t know what to say,” my San Antonio cousin said to me when I called her about the shooting in nearby Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children and two adults, murdered in Robb Elementary School around lunchtime.

“I don’t know what to say, either,” I replied, crestfallen.

Maybe if the bodies of the slaughtered children were shown on TV at the upcoming annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, the horror would sink in. The politicians scheduled to amplify the NRA antigun safety message would think twice. 

Maybe if the NRA crowd could see the 10 bodies of Black shoppers in Buffalo, who were shot down 10 days ago, the gun safety bill that passed the House would finally be taken up by the Senate.

I ask myself, “Do we have to see blood flowing to pass gun safety laws?”

Mass shootings are becoming so common that we are becoming immune to the terrible headlines and simply turn the page.

I know I must hold on to my capacity to grieve with the mothers and fathers who lost a child. There can be no greater loss. I am ready to probe deeper than new gun safety laws for an answer.

America is the only country where the mass murders happen frequently. We need a national conversation to dig into the source of our inbred violence. The fact that we have more guns than people is a partial answer, but not the whole answer.

Switzerland, where I was born, permits every soldier to take his military-issued gun home, but he must account for every bullet. It is, by any measure, a peaceful country where mass murder does not happen.

America, by any measure, glorifies violence.

Can we change? We must.

We changed public behavior when we curtailed smoking. We saved lives then. Let us try to save lives now when the subject is guns.

We must find a way to start a dialogue with those who continue to deny the reality of gun violence and refuse to admit the need to find an end to this horrific slaughter.

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Madeleine May Kunin

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