Outrageous Fortune: The Response to an American Tragedy

In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Dep
In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif. While the guns look similar, the bottom version is illegal in California because of it's quick reload capabilities. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, is proposing to change California law to make it more difficult and time-consuming to reload. The proposed measure is one of a number of gun control laws being introduced in some the nations most populous states after the recent shootings in Colorado.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

There are tragedies in the world that make the mind shut down. Shock to the heart has a way of making discussion impossible, anger uncouth: there will be those who say it is impossible to feel grief and rage at the same time. But you contain multitudes, dammit, and those who say otherwise deny the complexity of the human spirit. In the honest expression of our grief, there are no invalid emotional responses.

This country should be in mourning. We should be heart-broken and we should challenge our capacity for empathy to the point where we find this day in Connecticut incomprehensible: No. No, no, no. No more. And when this is the reality we cannot believe, we have the power to realize our nation with wishes forged of action. There is no paradox in a fight for peace: empathy and fury can coexist, and this outrage can be constructive. This is the time to take arms against arms.

We have witnessed again an act of terrorism in America. In other corners of the world we might declare these acts indefensible, punishable by losses of freedom and autonomy. For every day we choose not to fight for humanity in our own country, we sustain a status quo that is unacceptable. We should scream at the top of our lungs against the devil-may-care treatment of the most harmful product in our society.

If there is a right to take life in this country, it should well be revoked. The thinly veiled excuse for this liberty is far less one of constitutional right, than of financial interest. Certainly the constitutional right to life without fear should trump those considerations without delay. For too long, we have fostered an economy of gun violence with the insulation of apathy.

Our tragedy continues in America, and like all such stories, hindsight pinpoints a moment that could have been. But this is not fiction; history will continue to be written in this country with no shortage of crossroads, of turning points where we can clutch our future loved ones and remember the time we could have spoken out. We can speak out now, together. Let us tell the world that this is not the kind of nation we build.

It's our words against lobbyists' pens, and now and forever we will have the greater firepower. Let us fight. I apologize for my saccharinity -- I am angry, and I am a writer, and this is my impulse. Share yours. I only hope that in these words, there is something for the armory of those who say No More!

I should not buy a gun nor should I use them. I should not be able to, for the same reason I cannot fly a plane, without a rigid examination of my mental health, my background, my intent. I cannot buy a fighter plane. I cannot swipe a license from a traveling Plane Show. There are constructive uses for firearms as tools, but the liberties in that domain long ago eclipsed their legal and philosophical rationale. Please, America: please be angry.

More than 97,000 human beings have been shot with firearms this year in America. Our constitution is still alive, Mr. Scalia. So, too, should be the citizens that it protects.