Peter Bergen: Gun violence is a national security issue
The proliferation of semiautomatic weapons in the hands of Americans of the types that were used in the Newtown massacre is sometimes framed as a public health issue in the United States.
There is considerable merit to the notion of treating gun violence as a public health matter. After all, homicides -- around 70% of which are accomplished with firearms in the United States according to an authoritative study by the United Nations -- are the 15th leading cause of death for Americans.
But framing gun control as a public health issue doesn't quite do justice to the problem. It's probably more or less inevitable that most Americans will die of cancer or a heart attack, but why is it even plausible that so many Americans in elementary schools, colleges, movie theaters and places of worship should die at the hands of young men armed with semiautomatic weapons?
Americans generally regard themselves as belonging to an exceptional nation. And in terms of living in a religiously tolerant and enormously diverse country, Americans can certainly take some justified pride. Read more ...
Peter Bergen is a CNN national security analyst and author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad" and "The Longest War: America's Enduring Conflict with al-Qaeda."
Dorothy Paugh: A mother's journey to bearing grief
I am a mother of three, and my views on guns have evolved significantly over the course of my lifetime. My husband hunts and believes strongly in his right to bear arms. But when my 25-year- old middle son Peter shot himself in a moment of despair last April, I came full circle to the harsh reality that there are almost twice as many suicides as murders by firearm across America, roughly 19,000 of the 30,000 gun deaths each year. Yet we disproportionately fear and almost exclusively talk of criminals in this national gun debate.
My introduction to guns came on a hot summer day in 1963 when my father, 53 sent us all out of the house to have an afternoon of fun at a swimming pool in Aberdeen, Maryland. He called police, wrote "I'm sorry" on a scrap of paper and shot himself in our basement. He had recently lost his job. Not knowing how he would support his family, he had calculated how much his life insurance policies would pay upon his death. It was enough for my mother to raise the five of us, who were between the ages of 5 and 15 at the time. Read more ...
Dorothy Paugh lost her father to suicide by gun 50 years ago. A year ago, she lost her son for the same reason. Paugh volunteers with the Maryland chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Licensed Firearm Dealers Association. Paugh's story first appeared on CNN iReport.
Tracy Scarpulla: A mother's journey to bearing arms
I am the mother of three amazing children. Before having children, I was a firm believer that guns were dangerous. But I did nothing to educate myself about guns or gun safety. I feared the unknown and the danger guns seemed to possess.
But after 10 years, I now have a gun in my home. Listening to President Obama's news conference on Thursday marking 100 days after Sandy Hook, and the whole gun control debate, prompted me to get my viewpoint across.
I married a U.S. Marine. He of course was a firm believer in his right to bear arms. This posed no issue until our son was born. I was adamant that no gun be allowed in our home, while he felt quite the opposite. We agreed on one gun locked in a safe, and his other hunting guns were stored at his parents.
Slowly over the years, I became more and more fearful of being home alone on the nights he worked, especially after I had children. Read more ...
Tracy Scarpulla is a traveling nurse and a mother of three from Albany, New York. For years, she was adamant about not having a gun in the house, especially when she had children. Her husband, a Marine, is a firm believer in the right to bear arms. Scarpulla's story first appeared on CNN iReport.
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