Another day in the United States, another tragic shooting, this time by Jeffrey Johnson in the shadow of the Empire State Building. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora. Oak Creek. There are so many that it’s hard to remember them all. This doesn’t count the less publicized daily gun deaths that only garner fine print in the newspapers.
Again and again, Americans are killed by legally purchased firearms because our gun laws are among the most lax in the world. Yes, Johnson reportedly was not licensed to carry the gun in New York City, but he legally bought the gun in Florida in 1991. in the rest of the recent incidents, including Aurora, all guns and ammunition were purchased legally.
The NRA uses a false interpretation of the Second Amendment and massive campaign bribes, er, “contributions,” to make sure the James Holmes-type psychos in this country are able to buy as many guns and bullets as they need to mass murder us. Make no mistake, blood is on their hands, and they know it. But they don’t care.
The evidence that stricter gun laws work is all over the world. Japan strictly forbids handgun ownership by private citizens. As a direct result, for every Japanese murdered by firearms, more than 200 Americans become victims of gun homicides. Closer to home, Canada has much stricter gun laws, and consequently less than half as many firearm deaths.
What about the constitutionally protected “freedom” that gun nuts keep ranting about? It’s the result of an intentional misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, which 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.” The NRA believes the first phrase is disposable or meaningless. Yet any elementary school English teacher could tell you that the second phrase is dependent on the first.
If the Founding Fathers thought this right should be unrestricted, they wouldn’t have bothered to haggle about the language of the first phrase during the summer of 1789. But they did. And the Second Amendment as ratified obviously means that the people’s right to keep and bear arms is not to be infringed BECAUSE the “free State” may need to be defended by a “well regulated militia.”
This is exactly the situation in land locked Switzerland, where the vast majority of men in their 20s are conscripted into the military for training. These men are REQUIRED to keep firearms at home. Switzerland, mind you, doesn’t have a regular army, so the citizenry serves as a “well regulated militia.” Despite this very high rate of gun ownership, Switzerland has less than one-seventh as many gun homicides as the US — I guess that’s what happens when the guns are truly “well regulated.”
Also consider that the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. At the time, firearms were single shot flintlocks, not terribly accurate, with limited range. They misfired often and took at least 15 seconds to reload, even by experts. The Founding Fathers could not have forseen private citizens having access to military grade rapid fire assault weapons.
I can’t say with 100% certaintly that stricter gun laws would have prevented or mitigated all of these incidents. However, it’s common sense that if you make it harder for criminals and psychopaths to obtain weapons of mass destruction, you give law enforcement and other authorities more time to prevent these deadly incidents from occurring. The notion that having MORE armed citizens as a deterrent is frankly idiotic. A better idea would be to close corporate tax loopholes. For instance, how about making gun show promoters legally liable and responsible for all weapons bought from their events? How about requiring a Federal Firearms License from every gun show seller? How about outlawing private ownership of semiautomatic weapons? How about limiting gun purchases to one per month per household? I personally disapprove of hunting, but I understand some people consider it to be a legitimate activity. Fine. None of these restrictions would be more than a tiny inconvenience. Yet the NRA has or would fight every one of them.
The NRA’s basis for unrestricted gun ownership by private citizens is a massive lie built on a bogus interpretation of the Second Amendment, which is somewhat outdated anyway. When will politicians, including President Obama, publicly expose the NRA’s bloody dishonesty and take a bold stand to stop this endless madness?
– Teddy Chen