On the morning of Saturday, January 8, in the confluence that brought 21 strangers together at a Tucson strip mall, the rights of one of them trumped the rights of the other 20 hands down. Because Jared Lee Loughner is a resident of Arizona, he had the right to buy and conceal the 9mm Glock pistol with which he took away Christina Taylor Green's right to have a 10th birthday, Judge John M. Roll's right to shake a friend's hand, and social worker and community volunteer Gabe Zimmerman's right to marry his fiancée. The tragedies caused by the deranged man with the legal gun continue to cascade across this Arizona community and the nation.
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the shooter's original target, is an ardent supporter of laws like the one that allowed her attacker to be armed and dangerous. She, too, owns a Glock.
Semiautomatic and automatic guns are designed to cause fatal harm. There's no argument otherwise, even if one's only purpose in owning such a weapon is recreational. Imagine the devastation in Baltimore if the laws were as lax as they are in Alaska, Vermont and Arizona, the states with the most permissive gun laws in the nation. The argument that people, not guns, kill people is specious, especially when one considers the killing efficiency of guns that can shoot 31 rounds in seconds — or the number of people who are killed or wounded every year by individuals who do not have the capacity or the intention to exercise their Second Amendment rights responsibly.
Surely we can all agree that, like other human beings, people who have guns sometimes lose their temper, want to make a statement to a rival gang, make a mistake or see the world through a deranged lens. Guns in the wrong hands — even if they are wrong only a moment — can make the difference between unfortunate situations and tragedies. Whatever happened to common sense? It is past time for our entire nation to have gun laws that are responsive to these realities.
Mary Chesnut, Baltimore
The writer is CEO of the YWCA of Greater Baltimore.