December 23, 2015: Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is…

December 23, 2015 Belmont Citizen-Herald

Dear Santa, It’s been a bad year given the number of people shooting each other around the country. It’s painful even to recall all the deaths due to guns. And just think, we’ve had so many mass killings in this country that, at first, people didn’t even know if the recent San Bernardino shootings should be labelled “terrorism.”

Imagine that. Folks couldn’t tell whether killing 14 people with automatic weapons was terrorism, or was instead just your ordinary run-of-the-mill mass murders.

But, Santa, I’m not writing to ask you for reasonable gun controls. Banning people on no-fly lists from buying military style weapons seems to be too much to hope for.

Limiting magazine sizes, so mass murderers would at least have to stop to reload before they kill more of our kids doesn’t seem to be on the table either. We’ll have to leave those requests to the voting booth.

However, Santa, what I’m asking for will stop more deaths annually than all those mass murders combined. In fact, Santa, the majority of gun deaths each year include those by accident and suicide. When a person brings a gun into a home, it is 22 times more likely that that gun will be used to injure or kill a family member than an intruder.

Santa, a petition is now circulating at asking our state Attorney General to require all guns sold in Massachusetts to be sold with “smart triggers.” With a smart trigger, only the owner of a gun can actually fire that gun.

Not only would smart triggers prevent many suicides and most accidental gun deaths, they would also prevent police from having their guns taken from them and used against them on the streets. That’s one reason the head of the International Association of Chiefs of Police supports such technology.

Just between you and me, Santa, I really don’t “get” why this is a hard decision. We put smart caps on aspirin bottles to protect kids from accidental deaths and injury. We make cars that won’t start if a driver’s breath has too much alcohol. The use of password protections has become ingrained in our society. For heaven’s sake, I recently couldn’t download a song recommended to me by my daughter because I was using a lower case “a” rather than a capital “A” in the required security code. I confess, in my mind, it seems that it should be more difficult to pull the trigger on a gun than it is to download the most recent Carrie Underwood song on-line.

So, Santa, I’m not asking you to give Congress the gumption to stand up and say, “one Sandy Hook was one too many.” I’m not even asking you to get Congress out of the pocket of the NRA to make sure that military-style weapons remain in the military, and not on our streets and in our schools.

I haven’t lost my two front teeth, Santa, so I don’t need those for Christmas. My loss of hair is a hopeless cause, so I’ll also set that aside. But the continuing loss of life due to the lack of smart triggers is unconscionable.

All I want for Christmas, Santa, is for our Attorney General to use her authority to protect the public’s health and safety to stop a gun from firing when the hand holding that gun doesn’t belong to that gun.

Merry Christmas, Santa. Here’s hoping that nestled somewhere in that big bag of yours, you can find sufficient wisdom for our Massachusetts Attorney General to mandate smart triggers as one small step toward a more peaceful New Year.


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