Misguided Worship of 2nd Amendment Puzzling, If Not Appalling

January 30, 2013, Gabrielle Gifford Facebooked an image before speaking  at the Senate hearing on preventing gun violence.
January 30, 2013, Gabrielle Gifford Facebooked an image before speaking at the Senate hearing on preventing gun violence.

“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.”

That’s the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution that everybody talks about every time shots are fired in schools, in the workplace, at a movie theater or down the street down on the corner.

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre -- in the aftermath of the shootings at Newtown, Conn., were 20 grade school children were killed along with several teachers -- proposed arming teachers and said, “The answer to a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.” At Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on gun violence Jan. 30, he objected even to the idea of enhanced background checks, saying that “Universal background checks, which sounds, whatever, ends up being a universal federal nightmare imposed upon law abiding people all over the country.”

LaPierre's answer appears to be to arm more people, to have zero restrictions on automatic weapons, to just leave gun owners alone lest the Second Amendment be somehow destroyed.

At the same hearing, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was critically wounded by a gunman in 2011 pleaded eloquently, testified. Her speech slowed to a powerful pace whereby every word acquired the quality of thunder.

“This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities," Giffords said. "For Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. We … must … do ... something. It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Too many children are dying. Too many children.”

Giffords’s husband, a retired astronaut and U.S. Navy captain, declared his support for a background check, noting that both he and his wife were gun owners.

Giffords’s presence in the chamber was a powerful moment, but it was also impossible not to note the mostly friendly reception from many senators for LaPierre, a familiar figure on Capitol Hill as chief lobbyist for the NRA, for which he is paid an annual base salary of more $800,000 plus other compensation.

The Second Amendment has come up often in hearings held across Connecticut, where some of the parents of slain children, education officials, gun owners and police leaders spoke. One parent talked about his child and called for gun control while some members in the audience shouted “Second Amendment, Second Amendment.”

It should be pointed out that none of the proposals heard so far from legislators and the administration—from universal background checks, to banning military style automatic weapons—actually punish gun owners including those who rushed out to buy thousands of weapons after the Dec. 14 shooting. Rather, they’re intended to make it more difficult to purchase certain weapons, a development which would hurt gun manufacturers and gun shows—i.e., makers and sellers, not owners. Anybody who needs a gun—especially an automatic weapon—desperately, badly, immediately, urgently should get an automatic—there’s that word again—spot check.

I looked it up. There is the famous Second Amendment. It seems puzzling that we should get from there in the aftermath of the American Revolution to here. That lead-in statement about a well regulated militia suggests to me that citizens ought to have the right to bear arms in order to maintain a militia to protect us from . . .

I’m not on the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, Thomas Jefferson, the smartest man in the Western World outside Voltaire, Diderot and Benjamin Franklin, surely had the answer and just didn’t tell us.

It is, as the King of Siam said, a puzzlement. No. It’s much more than that. It is a shame and a tragedy that we talk about the death of not just children, but people in the line of fire, innocents, really, as some kind of collateral damage sacrificed at the altar of the Second Amendment. The founding fathers, the fathers and parents among them, at least, might have found that idea appalling.

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Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:17:51 -0400

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