The conservative publication, the National Review, has published an editorial regarding the massacre of innocents at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Not surprisingly, it has placed the blame everywhere but where it should be. The editorial staff has gone so far as to state that tragedies like the horrific events that took the lives of 20 children ages 6 and 7 years old, their teachers and their principal, is simply the price we pay for having their cherished Second Amendment.
The article piously—and incorrectly—states that for “nearly two and half centuries” Americans have had the right to carry firearms, with the inference that any type of weapon has always been permissible. However, when looking at the facts, something conservatives have a very hard time doing, it is only since the District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court decision in 2008 that the individual right to carry a firearm has been enshrined into law. However, even that decision drew the line and permits bans on concealed weapons, as well as bans on ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons like automatic weapons and assault rifles.
Particularly odious is the characterization of the Second Amendment as an ‘almost universally benevolent protection”—likening being armed to a favorite aunt or uncle who arrives bearing gifts at Christmas.
This is the text of the Second Amendment:
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.
One can read that many ways, but the way I read it is that the nation, as well as the states, has a right to form armies and militias and arm the citizens who comprise those armies and militias to protect the populace from harm by outside influences. Nowhere in that simple line do I get the impression that anyone for any reason gets to own a gun.
The editorial goes on to say:
It is easy, and in moments of despair such as Friday quite understandable, to scream “more” to gun control, “more” to the morass of airport-style security that is spreading its way across our institutions, “more” to the diagnosis and institutionalization of the mentally ill. But it is much harder to write the laws that would have guaranteed Adam Lanza could never find a gun, or enter a school by force, or go without what diagnosis, treatment, and supervision he might have needed. And hardest of all to write them in such a way that the republic we’d be left with would still look like America in the ways we value most.
The America we value most? Would that be the country where mass shootings are happening with more frightening regularity? Would that be the country where any Tom, Dick or Harry has unlimited access to weapons best left in the hands of the military and law enforcement? Would that be the country where 20 first graders excited about the impending visit from Santa Claus get mowed down in their classroom? What a CROCK!
Yes, we need to pay more attention to mental health in this country, but I would like to remind one and all that the demise of anything resembling a national policy aimed at helping those with mental health issues was effectively thrown out when Ronald Reagan took office. With conservatives still in control of the House, it is difficult to envision a time in the next two years when money will be allocated to take up the problem of mental health in this country.
The Right is fond of screaming that liberals “want to take away your guns.” The NRA consistently campaigns on this out-and-out LIE. Nobody wants to take away your hunting rifles. Nobody wants to take away the handgun you have tucked away for home protection. But yes, there are those of us—the sane people, including gun owners—who recognize that we need to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban, close gun show loopholes, prohibit gun sales over the Internet and require gun owners to attend classes on the safe handling and storage of weapons. These steps are not an infringement of anyone’s rights. They are common sense measures and anyone who can’t see that is blinded by the unreasoning rhetoric of a faction in this country that values weaponry over the lives of people. That values weaponry over the lives of little children.
Quite frankly, I find that sickening.
There are no guarantees that instituting sane gun laws will prevent another massacre, but we do know from past experience that having an assault weapons ban in place brought down the rate of gun violence in this country. When we have the dubious distinction of being number one in the world for gun violence, one would think we’d want to correct the problem instead of defending it.