Constitutional Rites

Everybody has heard the statistics so many times, I don’t know if it makes a difference to repeat them – so just a couple for context:

  • it is the 312th day of 2018, and the U.S. has had 307 mass shootings (defined as four or more victims injured or killed)
  • more Americans have died in mass shootings in the last two weeks, than the number of American soldiers who have died in active war zones in the entire year so far

The statistics go on and on, and every time there is a mass shooting, they just grow and grow.

We are living in a war zone, because Americans have easy access to high-capacity, high-velocity firearms. We have had bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the past – why, when this situation is becoming exponentially worse, can we not have that now?

The rates of mental health problems, video game consumption, and violent crime in the U.S. are similar to the same rates in other high-income nations. Across all significant statistics, the U.S. is in line with other countries like Great Britain, Japan, Sweden, Brazil, etc. – yet mass murder is an almost uniquely American problem.

What’s different? Easier access for U. S. civilians to weapons of war.

There is no reason that a normal citizen needs to have a high-velocity semi-automatic rifle or handgun, that fires ten or more rounds in a matter of seconds. Magazines that hold 10, 15, 30 or more rounds of ammunition – these are not made for target practice, or for hunting deer. These weapons are designed for one thing, acquiring and killing multiple targets in the shortest possible time.

The Second Amendment says we have a right to bear arms – fine, but when the Second Amendment was written, the most effective firearm was a muzzleloader that could fire two or three shots per minute, used by a trained soldier. Modern semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines can easily fire from fifty to a hundred shots per minute, only limited by how fast the shooter can pull the trigger, and how fast they can change magazines.

Twenty children – six- and seven-years old – were murdered this way at Sandy Hook. Four hundred and eighty-one people were shot, and fifty-nine killed in Las Vegas. Last week, four children lost their 97 year-old grandmother/great-grandmother in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Eleven dead last night, including a brave officer who ran toward the gunfire and saved lives, while losing his.

Politicians will once again tweet about “thoughts and prayers” and say it’s not the right time to talk about gun control. If the day after a mass shooting isn’t the time to talk about gun control – there’s never going to be a day that we can, because now they are happening every day. The large majority of American people want gun control legislation – that has been proven over and over by multiple studies and surveys.

I think that every politician who accepts money from the NRA, and obstructs real, rational gun control – every one of them – should be made to spend an hour with the parents of a murdered child, or the children of a murdered police officer – or better yet, to visit the scene of a mass-fatality shooting, and help the first responders clean up bodies and interview survivors.

I am a responsible gun owner, I am a patriot, I believe in and value our Constitution – I am many of those things that the folks who cling to their assault weapons claim to be. The closest I have come in my life to losing my life, was at the wrong end of a foolishly-handled AR-15 (another story for another time). I have first-responders in my family. I don’t come at any of this from a position of know-nothingness. All that being said, I can’t imagine the pain that the thousands of people in the hundreds of families that have lost somebody to a mass shooting feel, knowing that their loved ones were senselessly murdered, and our society and government have stood by and done nothing.

If you are one of the politicians who are ignoring this problem – you need to stop deflecting, stop minimizing, stop making excuses, and actually do something. We the people (again, the large majority of us) want gun control legislation – stop being blinded by easy dollars, from organizations who couldn’t care less about a few more dead Americans.

Do something.

 

 

 

 

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1 week ago

So much common sense – being dashed against the granite strength of political payoffs. Perhaps that’s where we need to start. What can we do to stop special interests from buying our government?

1 week ago

@bonnierose I would like to see an organization rise up that would act as the counterpoint to the NRA, and collect and distribute MORE campaign contributions – but that hasn’t happened yet.

1 week ago

I totally agree…..Would it be possible to adopt some laws like canada has?  And maybe grandfather the people who already have guns and make it illeagal for the melenials to get guns……I think people who use guns for mass murder should be in jail and not ever come out better yet kill them…..I mean bring back capital punishment to all the states.

1 week ago

@jaythesmartone the point you make about grandfathering is important to making this work – some compromises will have to be made to get people comfortable with such a large change.

1 week ago

@thediarymaster I agree with you but those who have the assult riffles and other types of machine guns will and should give them up…..Unless hunting rifles are totally different then that could be the exception, if you can prove that you are a true hunter and don’t do it just for the sport but to survive?

1 week ago

well said

1 week ago

@kaliko thanks!

1 week ago

As a (much maligned) left leaning centrist, I have kind of a funny take on the 2nd amendment. Not at all funny when it comes to women’s and lgbtq 🏳️‍🌈 rights or immigration- but as to gun laws…

Our founding fathers did not envision high powered semi/automatic weapons nor could three have fathomed the instant infamy afforded by instant, global, 24-hour tree of life style information availability these (white) guys are getting with their atrocities. Because they could not have conceptualized the sheer number of NRA lobbying dollars, there simply isn’t any sense in attending to letter of the law philosophy so we have to be a little creative here.

They wanted us to have a well maintained militia to prevent invasion, protect citizens from “savages,” and insure that the people had a way to check the government if it went (or cough- already has gone) off the rails.

Thing is: We have to be able to take the man down to follow the spirit of the law. We can’t do it with muzzle loaders. We NEED to keep citizens as equipped as technology allows. BUT- nothing about gun sales in this country is well regulated. We do a better job vetting new drivers than we do gun owners.

I believe that certain people (well trained and certified law enforcement, former military, and/or those with bright shining releases from a three step medical, legal and skills qualification angle- should DEFINITELY be required for military grade weapons. I think it is inexcusable we have to prove we can see and are able to pass a rudimentary exam to operate a 2,500 lb motorized projectile- but not an assault rifle.

I believe American Democracy demands we are a well armed populace- but there is nothing to support the way every Joe has access now.

1 week ago

@e3 I don’t disagree with you on the people needing to have the power to limit a (corrupt, failed, deranged) government but I guess I would like to think we would be able to do that through the avenues of protest and the ballot box. You’re not wrong that sometimes that’s not enough.

I totally agree on how ridiculous it is that I can by a rifle in my state with no testing or safety education whatsoever, but have to be tested to drive a car!

1 week ago

I know everything you are saying, but coming from the middle of the country in what is considered fly over land, I know what a terrible fight would ensue.  Most would not comply and hide what they had.  Feelings run very high.  The NRA is no help this is true because they could support reasonable limits and don’t.  I really don’t know the answer.  Do you really think we could keep these out of the hands of those that would do harm with them?  I’m not sure.  It would be interesting to try.

1 week ago

@dlk082244 I know that there are people who would not comply, and no I don’t believe any measure would totally keep these weapons out of the hands of bad people – but I do think we have to do something, and make a start, or nothing will ever change. This is a trend that will take decades or generations to reverse, it won’t happen overnight. If having better gun control could prevent even just one mass shooting, I think it would be worth it.

When we had an assault weapons ban before, these incidents were statistically much lower – and still bad guys could get their hands on these weapons if they really wanted to – but it did make a difference.

 

1 week ago

@thediarymaster I agree, we really need to try it.  When I was a kid everyone rode around with guns in their pickup window and no one ever thought about shooting anyone.  Unfortunately we  are no longer dealing with that mentality

1 week ago

As a Brit, remembering our reaction to Dunblane, it absolutely astounds me that you guys have done nothing about gun control.

 

I remain impressed by the Parkland survivors and their continual campaigning on this issue

1 week ago

@williamthebloody I agree, I am inspired by the Parkland survivors and that they continue to speak out against a system that to them must seem insurmountable. Your reaction is understandable – you would hear the same reaction from a citizen of Australia, or Japan, or any number of other countries, about Americans’ blind spot to this problem.

1 week ago

Very good entry

1 week ago

@vetinari thanks!

1 week ago

I had a life membership in the NRA until about 1983 when as a cop, some manufacturer designed bullets that would penetrate my ballistic vest. I believed they should have been outlawed because there was no practical reason to have them except to shoot cops. The NRA was hard-lined about saying no particularly bullets should be banned. It was at that moment I canceled my membership. They are far too radical to the right for me.

I agree with you that there are no practical reasons to have extended magazines and some other types of firearms for the average citizen. For that matter, I don’t think most cops can be ultra responsible with high capacity magazines.

So I agree 100% that the 2nd amendment can be preserved while still having some limitations on types of firearms, magazines, and ammunition.

Having said that, I think mental illness and the breakdown of the family has more to do with the types of violence we are seeing across our country. In the case of the recent guy in California, PTSD probably had more to do with his rage than anything else. The VA has a horrible record of helping soldiers like him. Maybe we can start with replacing the way returning vets are given mental health care.

5 days ago

@altair I totally agree that there are other things to be fixed as well, those are important too. I also totally know what you mean about the NRA being okay with rounds that can pierce body armor – there’s not a lot of deer out there in Kevlar.

1 week ago

Yes!

2 days ago

@alika thanks!

2 days ago

I know I’m going to get rotten tomatoes thrown at me and someone might burn my diary to the ground but….

I think the bigger problem is the rampant hatred and horrible state of mental health care.  In fact, because of those issues, I have my concealed pistol permit and I do carry.

Here’s the thing, if someone wants to kill people, they’ll kill people.  They’ll still obtain guns illegally.  I think back to the Columbine massacre in 1999.  Had the event gone according to plan, we would remember how these kids created bombs made from propane tanks like we have on our barbecues to level a school with over 2200 students and faculty.  The guns (obtained illegally) wouldn’t be at the forefront of the conversation.

When I was a kid, every household had firearms.  Well I grew up in a place where hunting was huge, but still.  People drove around with a rifle in the back window of the pick up truck.  There weren’t mass shootings on the news every night.  What changed?  Guns?  Maybe, society?

2 days ago

@drama I think what changed since you (and me probably) grew up is there is definitely a lot more hate (the internet itself is to blame for a lot of that) but the availability of guns designed for human killing is also easier. I grew up in an area with a lot of hunting too, and people had gun racks in their pickups – but they were all carrying 30-06 deer hunting rifles or .12 ga birding shotguns, not semi-automatic assault weapons with 30-round mags.

There are a lot of factors, for sure – I don’t disagree with that.