I grew up with guns, learning to shoot rifles, pistols and shotguns as a young boy under training and careful supervision from responsible adults. It was a part of our family and the culture. I was proud at the time of whatever skill I was able to develop.
I grew up in a different time and place that valued the outdoors, fishing and shooting. Guns and ammo were kept in secure places. My uncle who lost his leg to careless gun use as a young boy was an important lesson to us all. It seems to me that the gun and aspects of the entertainment industries now work hand in glove to create a society that values and promotes not abhors violence. This is poisonous and has no place in our culture. We must make a cultural shift. Many of us now live in big, crowded cities, not the farm and the frontier of the past; our children’s daily exposure to violence on TV shows, video games, movies, etc. is toxic. Our values have to change; the commodification of violence has to change.
I cannot fathom the perspectives that Congress could not and should not regulate assault weapons, semi-automatics, gun clips or bump stocks. These have nothing to do with hunting deer, nor with defense of home and self, but only with murdering as many fellow human beings as possible. Such weapons of mass destruction are properly limited to the army and licensed law enforcement and have no place in the hands of civilians living their everyday lives. If people want to go to shooting ranges for target practice with guns, that’s one thing; however, if people want to carry their arms to the office, school, church, the supermarket, in their cars, on public transit and on our roadways, that’s something else entirely. At that point you may be threatening to and endangering others and the entire community.
The framers of our Constitution, the writers of the Second Amendment lived at a time of single shot muskets, swords and bayonets, not semi-automatic weapons. The gun at the time was part of food gathering on the frontier, not mass murder in schools and workplaces, let alone places of worship. It was for individual self-defense of the home and the farm and for collective defense against foreign invasions and government tyranny. Guns were used to fight and defeat the British, but by well regulated local militias. The framers were concerned about both government tyranny and also about mob rule by armed civilians. The principle of collective self-defense through well regulated state militias and of individual self-defense of the home and family were both parts of the Second Amendment, according to the Supreme Court. Gun toting to intimidate others was not what the framers had in mind; in fact their views were quite the opposite as they were dealing with several rebellions at the time in Pennsylvania and Western Massachusetts. The crown jewel of the Constitution, the First Amendment protects individual free speech, but it is not unlimited; for example you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater. Free speech may be restricted as to time, place and manner of delivery. These important constitutional rights are not absolute, but can be subject to reasonable rules and regulations by the federal or state governments.
Gun manufacturers, the NRA and the elected Congressional representatives are doing a major disservice to our nation by allowing the buying and selling of vast quantities of automatic and semiautomatic weapons and ammunition, whose coincidental uses are the slaughter of their fellow human beings, to individuals who are not well trained and in some cases may well pose threats to themselves, their families and the larger communities. We need to get the electoral politics out of gun rules and apply some very basic common sense in our laws regulating gun ownership and use. We need very tight background checks, reliable data bases and tight rules on the sales of guns and ammunition. We have to be preventive and immediately active when threat profiles emerge. We have to elect representatives who are not knee jerk genuflectors at the altar of the NRA, but are instead completely committed to reducing gun violence throughout the nation.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin