Sunday, January 27, 2013

Calyx and Beau Schenecker: A Call to Action

Beau and Calyx Shenecker

by Guest Writer, Diane Fanning

Two years ago today, Julie Schenecker used a handgun to end the lives of her children, 16-year-ol Calyx and 13-year-old Beau.  To obtain that firearm, she lied.  She filled out a form at the gun shop denying that she’d ever been committed to an institution for mental health reasons and she swore she was not addicted to any drugs.

Julie Schenecker is an obvious example of why it is essential to have universal background checks that include accurate input from mental health professionals as well as criminal records for every single transfer of gun ownership.

In Newtown, a young man mowed down 20 six-year-old children and five school staff members.  Using a Bushmaster with a massive ammunition clip, he riddled the tiny, helpless bodies of first graders with bullets.  It was his mother’s gun, legally obtained.

Why do some believe that their right to have fun firing off these lethal weapons designed for mass killing is more important than the lives of our children?  Every right we have as Americans has its limitations—not to curtail our liberty—but to provide equal protection under the law for all of our citizens.

Before Australia banned these assault weapons and clips, they averaged a mass murder every year.  Since then, they have had none—not one.  Weapons designed to kill as many as possible in a short period of time have no place in a civil society.

This past week in Texas, gunfire erupted at Lone Star College.  Three were wounded, many were terrified, the campus was locked down.  A contributing factor to traumatic experience was the insistence of state leaders that faculty and students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons when they go to their schools.

The laissez-faire attitude my state and others have toward responsible, reasonable gun regulations have directly contributed to deaths of its citizens.  The more guns there are in the public square, the more likely the incidence of gun violence.

I understand and accept the strong multi-generational ties to hunting.  I would not advocate for abolishing those weapons.  I understand the psychological need for others to possess handguns in their homes to protect their families, even though, statistically, it is far more likely that weapon will be used to take the life of someone in that house than it will ever be used to defend their personal safety.  I am not suggesting that this right should be taken away.

But one of every two women killed by gunfire dies at the hand of an intimate partner.  States that have adopted laws mandating that all gun ownership exchanges—even private gun sales require background checks—have seen a 40 per cent drop in this lethal form of domestic violence.  Is this minor inconvenience more troublesome than the loss of these women’s lives?

I acknowledge the fear of some Americans that there is a slippery slope—that if we ban one weapon, add one caveat to purchase restrictions, soon the government will take every firearm we own.  The Supreme Court, however, has taken a stand and marked this territory as sacrosanct.  There is a right to the individual ownership of guns.  The slippery slope exists only in the minds of the paranoid, the fanatical and those who have been misled by fear mongers.

It is time to ignore those voices whose purpose in speaking out is only to frighten our fellow Americans.  It is time for all of us to speak up and make it clear that we value the lives of children more than some adult’s recreational pleasure.  It is time to stand up for human life.

Diane Fanning is the author of Sleep My Darlings, the story of the Schenecker tragedy, coming April 30.  It will be Diane’s twentieth published book.

Sleep My Darlings is ready for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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