Controlling Gun Control
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 by Laramie Boyd
        The heartbreaking shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut has resulted in "action overdue" efforts on gun control by President Obama. The President pointed out that "The fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't steadily reduce the violence." The first step in that direction was the appointment of Vice-President Joe Biden to oversee the process of tightening gun laws, hoping for a ban on assault weapons, closing loopholes being used to bypass security checks at gun shows, and restricting the volume of ammunition that can easily be purchased. The selection of Vice-President Biden has not met with total approval, and some feel that it could be a ploy to pass the buck because the President, while wanting to appear tough on gun control, doesn't have a plan how to get Congress to finally come up with a satisfactory solution, and doesn't want any responsibility for any efforts failing to do so. I for one hope this is not the case, as we all do.
        Mark Wasserkrug of Guns of Distinction gun shop, sellers of what he calls "weapons of war", says that their shop still complies with California's "strict" gun policies. He states that he, and he bets a majority of gun shop owners, should be able to "keep the law-breaking few from buying" these kinds of weapons, and that "he would give up his rights to a weapon if it would save one life."
        Sen. Barbara Boxer has introduced laws that would allow Governors to use National Guard troops to post at school doorways and "keep vigil around the school perimeter" to prevent violence, and she wants increased financing for security cameras and metal detectors at schools.
        One Larry Shapiro, a Canadian distributor of magazines and books, wrote a provocative article in The Desert Sun, a Palm Springs newspaper. He is concerned because he feels that "Unless you keep a loaded gun on your table at Starbucks, you could get shot." He believes "a feature of American culture is mass shooting of innocent people by rejected and disappointed men." Of course, that view in no way implies that all rejected and disappointed men are mass murderers, thank goodness.
        Another concern of Mr. Shapiro is that since the Declaration of Independence entitles Americans to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, how come guns are so readily available to convicted felons.?" The fact is, it is against the law for a felon or emotionally disturbed person to possess a gun or ammunition, and violation of that carries a possible 10 year imprisonment sentence.
        Mr. Shapiro interprets the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States as giving only militias the right to bear arms, and since one man is not a militia, he does not have the right to bear arms. U.S. Supreme Court decisions have made it clear that private citizens have that right, and in fact there may soon be a judicial review of the possibility that citizens have a right to carry concealed weapons in certain circumstances. Whether one agrees or not with the right to bear arms, concealed or visible, criticism should be accurate on the law.
        Our friend from Canada recalls that in the 1790's, gun ownership was necessary because "the aboriginals didn't take kindly to its lands being appropriated, " and now that threat has apparently disappeared. Is Mr. Shapiro saying that the American Indians were fighting to retain the land that was being stolen from them, and that the settlers needed guns to protect themselves. That is an interesting slant on the history of the old west.
        In the article, we are told of instances where people shoot robbers who break into their home, and probably saved their own lives doing so, and this is good. But if there had been gun control, Mr. Shapiro reasons, the homeowner and the robbers might not have guns and "a frightened father killing his own children because he mistook them for criminal invaders " would never take place. The logic and validity of this example of why there should be gun control escapes me.
        In closing, Mr. Shapiro recognizes that gun violence is a national tragedy but could be reduced to "everyone's satisfaction if we enact sensible life-saving controls for using lethal weapons." Is there any American, or Canadian for that matter, that really believes our country will ever solve the gun control controversy to "everyone's satisfaction" or that that there are such things as "life-saving controls for lethal weapons."
        The bottom line may be that there is just too much violence being glorified by movies, TV, the internet, everywhere and anywhere people go for escape or entertainment. Are brutally savage killings, total nudity, using 4-letter words, descriptive sexual intercourse scenes, explosions slinging burned and maimed bodies through the air, are these examples of freedom of speech, of an inalienable right? Are judges and Congress dumb, deaf and blind? Couldn't we attack, through legislation, some forces and organizations that clearly glorify guns and violence? Are the courts and Congress too weak minded to say enough is enough, to stop the "anything goes" mind- set that pervades the country. I have heard it said by some "far out " citizens that there just may be a total misinterpretation of some of the freedoms that we have. Good luck Mr. President, Sen. Boxer, and Vice-President Biden. You will need all the skill and know how to help the nation through the fight against the misuse and misunderstanding of the "right to bear arms." And this is why you were elected. Any knee-jerk solutions will not be accepted. Only long term safeguards of our constitutional rights to keep and bear arms and to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don't let us down!