I’ve been playing a lot of Solitaire to avoid writing this post, but a presence within me is tapping, no…pounding, on my conscience to speak up. I write this so that another voice is added to what I hope is the building thunder of a call to action. Enough is enough. We do not need assault rifles and high capacity clips for civilian use, and we shouldn’t allow unlicensed persons to sell arms, especially at gun shows. Neither of these opinions reflects a threat to a sane interpretation of the Second Amendment.
I am not against guns or against gun rights. I still have several N.R.A. badges and medals I earned in camps I attended as a child and teenager; my parents, my brother, my husband and many friends have or have had guns for sport. My brother used to be a police officer and he had weapons for serious uses, which he had occasion to draw but never had to fire. I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, so I am no stranger to the passion and purpose of establishing and defending a nation.
The slaughter of innocent children and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, is the latest in the assault on undeserving citizens in our country by mentally ill men brandishing assault weapons. They join the list of other victims in theaters, malls, colleges, as well as on the streets of our cities, held hostage by rampant crime made more likely because of easy access to assault weapons. The N.R.A. would have you believe that more weapons are needed, as in arming teachers to protect our schools. Columbine High School had armed officers, and that assault was not stopped. At the shooting of Gabriel Giffords, Joe Zamudio put his hand on the butt of his gun when he heard the shots, but as he got to the scene, Loughner had been tackled and was on the ground. Zamudio jumped on top of Loughner to make sure he would not get away (New York Daily News, 24 Dec 2012). These are just a few of the incidents where guards or concealed carrying citizens could not stop attacks by gunmen yielding assault weapons.
The N.R.A. used to be an organization that promoted gun safety and marksmanship, but that all changed in the 1977 when Harlan Carter was elected executive Vice-President of the N.R.A.. With his guidance, the N.R.A. stopped being an organization of hunters and marksmen and began its climb to a powerful lobby that zealously defends its no compromise interpretation of the Second Amendment. It is big business.
So, I looked up the Second Amendment. It reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a militiaand for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. That’s OK.
The N.R.A., however, sees any gun regulation as a threat to Second Amendment rights. Wait a minute. We have freedom of speech, but we can’t libel a person. We have the right of assembly, but we can’t club people in the crowd who disagree with us.
It is the blind, self-serving N.R.A. to which Americans must rise against. There is, for instance, a loophole that allows unlicensed sellers to sell arms to people without conducting background checks. These unlicensed sellers are prominent at gun shows and help arm criminals and “bad guys” (Wayne LaPierre’s term-LaPierre is the current Executive Vice President of the N.R.A.). A Google search on the “Gun Show Loophole” yields multiple studies that reveal the connection between unlicensed sales of guns and crime.
If you are a member of the N.R.A., help take back the organization’s reputation for responsible gun ownership. President George HW Bush resigned his lifetime N.R.A. membership in 1995 when LaPierre called federal agents “jack-booted thugs” after the Oklahoma City bombing. (See the full text of Bush’s letter at http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/11/us/letter-of-resignation-sent-by-bush-to-rifle-association.html. )
Refuse to listen to Wayne LaPierre’s fear mongering about threats to the Second Amendment. Informed citizens can and should be skeptical about issues, but healthy skepticism leads to research and fact-finding. It is the N.R.A.’s resolute rejection of any gun control that is so alarming.
For those of us who are not members of the N.R.A., help weaken the stranglehold that the N.R.A. has on any progress for sane, responsible gun control while honoring the Second Amendment appropriately for the 21st century. I am sending this blog posting to my senator, representatives, and my President. Each voice can promote even a little bit towards “peace on Earth and good will towards men.”
Resources you might want to check out:
Brady Campaign http://www.bradycampaign.org/
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence http://www.csgv.org/
James E. Atwood, America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose
Mayors Against Illegal Guns http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/home/home.shtml