Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gun Violence in America - Can We Talk?

It's been almost a week now since the latest volley of shots rang out at the wrong place, in the wrong time. Once again we ask ourselves how this could happen. Why? But still, we won't talk about the elephant in the room. Why an AR-15, an assault weapon that fires off 100 rounds at one time, can be blithely purchased at Bass Pro Shops? Why should anyone, anywhere, be allowed to buy a rifle like this? Unless one is billeted on a mountaintop in Kandahar is there any earthly reason?

It's difficult to believe that it was only about 40 years ago, when President Reagan was shot for you younger readers, that an entire nation stood behind the Brady Bill. Within hours of its passage the National Rifle Association began its onslaught, raising formidable amounts of money that it has used to co-opt our democracy, coerce our representatives in Washington, and threaten our president and his opposition with annihilation in the polls if they breathe a word in support of gun control. How has the NRA wrested so much power from the people?

Don't get me wrong, I understand gun ownership and the legitimate reasons for it. My dad was a reluctant hunter and yes, we had a couple of 22's in a gun rack in the TV room. I'm not sure he ever caught a deer but I have a strong remembrance of trying to chew my way through a pheasant still loaded with buckshot. My mom was not the world's best cook! One year our neighbor was killed by an errant bullet during hunting season and my mom put her foot down. Dad's days with a rifle were over.

As an English major, commas and their placement in a sentence are important to me. I'm still of the opinion, current Supreme Court be damned, that the initial intent of the second amendment was to ensure that gun ownership be protected in case a militia needed to be quickly formed. Remember, we are speaking about the 1700's.

"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."
How this amendment was co-opted by the gun lobby to imply that it's our "god given right" to own and carry any kind of a weapon, anywhere in this country is beyond my comprehension. And, if you're a believer, why not ask WWJD? Don't I have a right to feel safe at work? Do you know that the state of Florida now has a law that insures that a customer can come into the library anytime he wants with a concealed weapon on him? Don't want to pay your fine today? Hmmmm-no problem!
For decades now the United States has had the dubious reputation of leading the pack in gun related injuries and deaths. You'll never hear this on the news though. Take a look at some older statistics keeping in mind that it's much worse now:
When, oh when, will we stop reading about the latest massacre of innocent people by a deranged gunman who sat in his room at his computer and ordered up death and destruction with aplomb? This cannot be what the founding father envisioned! We must put a ban on assault rifles back on the table. Please give it a thought, the elections are coming up.

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