U.S. Senate acted disgracefully by rejecting common-sense background checks for gun owners

Peter Makori

Exactly what drove the U.S. Senate to reject the proposed legislation on background checks for all gun sales? What if all the 20 children shot dead in Newtown, Conn., early this year were grandchildren of these senators? Would they have rejected the legislation in the shameful way they did? I doubt it.

So, how many people should be killed through uncontrolled gun ownership in order to move the nation’s conscience to act? Maybe if all the victims were relatives of senators, they could surely see the sense of legislating how we acquire and misuse our guns.

I’ve concluded it is easier for kindergarten kids fighting over a toy to solve their differences than for the U.S. Congress to solve straightforward problems affecting the American people.

I personally do not know what it feels like to lose a child, but I know what it means to lose a relative. When my father died 13 years ago, I agonized for more than five years, refusing to accept the reality that he was gone.

My father was a poor man. He never played any role in my education or much else. But the fact that he was my father created a strong human attachment. And when he died, I felt that he should not have died. He didn’t die of gun violence. He was sick.

What about a parent who dropped a son or daughter at school being called to be informed that the child was no more because he or she had been slain by a deranged gunman?

What about a wife or husband being informed that his or her mate had been shot dead by a gunman who went berserk and killed 20 children and six staff members?

Any person who has suffered tragedy like the one in Newtown would tell you that the decision of 46 senators was disgusting. Any person who has seen a loved one senselessly killed will tell you how disappointing it was to hear that U.S. senators had rejected legislation to ensure proper background checks before anyone acquired a firearm.

Carrying out background checks is necessary if American schools, public installations and private homes are to be safe from those who misuse guns. I have never understood what guides the misguided decisions of U.S. senators when they are confronted with such matters of national importance.

But I have also never understood how these same people get re-elected when they clearly appear to be a national disgrace. And many of them claim the solution to the problem is having guns everywhere, even on the campuses of schools such as UMKC.

Ever since I came to America, I have been outraged to see a dangerous trend where opposition to any piece of legislation, however useful, is rationalized under the guise of safeguarding “Constitutional rights.”

Does that mean these victims of gun violence have no Constitutional rights?

This recent gun control legislation was intended to expand background checks to include buyers who bypass licensed gun dealers. That is not asking for too much. Senate proponents even gave up their legislation intended to curb military style assault rifles, and there’s still no meaningful action on keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

The background check proposal did not try to deny Americans their Constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms. Lobbyists, especially those from the National Rifle Association, misinform people that the government wants to take away their Second Amendment rights. That is simply not true.

As a university student, I pray daily that the unexpected does not happen at UMKC. This is because ever since I came to this college, I have never seen clear security measures in place to ensure that everyone is safe.

Security cameras are either obsolete, if they are installed, or do not exist in many places. While security cameras may not guarantee security for everybody, if we did not have cameras in Boston, we could not have arrested those criminals who detonated a bomb that killed three people and injured dozens of others.

How would UMKC police piece together an incident at a location on campus where there were no functional cameras?

Americans should stand up and reject legislators whose agendas do not promote the greater good of this country.

I come from a society in Africa—Kenya—where people have no inherent rights like we have in America. I am also the last person to advocate any intention, implied or otherwise, of the government trying to take away people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.

But the madness with these guns must be tamed. We don’t want to see a family lose a son or daughter in the most senseless killings, as we saw in Newtown. We don’t want to see any more Virginia Tech or Columbine massacres. The killings must be stopped.

Following the rejection of the gun-control legislation, international media splashed the story with screaming headlines that portrayed America in the most negative way.

The Telegraph of the United Kingdom wrote, “Shameful day for Washington.”  And it was, and remains, a shameful day indeed.

I sincerely believe that the people of America can still defend their rights by doing away with what is not right.

Mass killings that have hit American schools on all levels must disturb the conscience of this nation so much that we finally act to protect each other while bearing in mind that our Constitutional guarantees must remain intact.

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