Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nothing a Few More Guns Wouldn't Fix!

Or so said the gun lobby in quick-draw emails before the bodies at Virginia Tech were even cold.

Few words, if any, are adequate to address the enormity of the shootings in Blacksburg on 4/16/07. But the gun advocates get the prize for the most brutal, insensitive, unsympathetic, thoughtless and hypocritical remarks so far.

The bogus claim to a thought process goes like this: Demented people with guns gravitate toward places where people are unarmed and defenseless—like school campuses, churches, courthouses, hospitals and the like. It is impossible to secure such locations no matter how many armed guards and other security measures we muster. Therefore, the more civilians who bring guns into such places, the better our chances of coming out alive.

Have they completely lost their minds?

Sure, let’s all holster our semiautomatic weapons and bring them to church and school and court and the hospital. And let’s pull our guns whenever we feel threatened. And when I turn a corner a see a civilian brandishing a gun, let me pull my gun too, because now I also feel threatened. And once two people have drawn their guns, and I’m the next gunman to come upon the scene, surely I’ll know the good guy from the bad. And let’s try not to catch any unarmed innocents in the crossfire.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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 Supreme Court has not reversed its 1939 decision (U.S. v. Miller) that the Second Amendment guarantees the arming of militias, not an individual right to bear my firearm of choice. The 3/9/07 ruling of the federal Circuit Court of Appeals struck down, by a 2-1 vote, a Washington D.C. law keeping handguns out of residences. But the Supreme Court has not blessed that judgment, much less over-ruled its own 70-year old decision. And should the Supreme Court ever buy the gun lobby’s misreading of the Constitution, it will be time to pursue a new constitutional amendment to restore sanity to our national life.

The massacre is being described as our worst mass shooting. So far. It was perpetrated by a student who purchased two handguns legally. The best memorial to the 32 students and faculty members he shot is better gun control, not less. The massacre calls for reducing the availability of guns and improving measures to keep the wrong people from getting them—not only crazies and criminals, but also civilians who think they have the right and the competence to take the law into their own hands.

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