Jason Alexander, or George Costanza to the Seinfeld fans out there, took to Twitter this weekend to urge action in the wake of the Batman killing spree in a Colorado theater:
I'd like to preface this long tweet by saying that my passion comes from my deepest sympathy and shared sorrow with yesterday's victims and with the utmost respect for the people and the police/fire/medical/political forces of Aurora and all who seek to comfort and aid these victims.
This morning, I made a comment about how I do not understand people who support public ownership of assault style weapons like the AR-15 used in the Colorado massacre. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-15
That comment, has of course, inspired a lot of feedback. There have been many tweets of agreement and sympathy but many, many more that have been challenging at the least, hostile and vitriolic at the worst.
Clearly, the angry, threatened and threatening, hostile comments are coming from gun owners and gun advocates. Despite these massacres recurring and despite the 100,000 Americans that die every year due to domestic gun violence - these people see no value to even considering some kind of control as to what kinds of weapons are put in civilian hands.
Before the last rounds are fired in these heinous crimes you can count on the pro-gun lobby already pushing the "it's not the guns fault" meme. Of course it isn't. It takes a person to operate that piece of machinery. But the same can be said for other things, like drugs. Maybe I enjoy the look and scent of cannabis. If I don't smoke it, it won't get me high, yet I still can not grow it. In other words, it's not the plants fault, yet our laws ban it.
The Jason hits on the second amendment and his interpretation is something I have always said:
There is no excuse for the propagation of these weapons. They are not guaranteed or protected by our constitution. If they were, then we could all run out and purchase a tank, a grenade launcher, a bazooka, a SCUD missile and a nuclear warhead. We could stockpile napalm and chemical weapons and bomb-making materials in our cellars under our guise of being a militia.
Our Constitution was written in a time of muzzle loaders and cannons. Since then technology has made leaps forward and we now have assault riffles that can fire 100 rounds in a minute, not the one round every 30 seconds that was normal during the days of the penning of our Constitution.
And why isn't the NRA out there pushing for people to own nuclear warheads? I mean it is "arms" and they insist our Constitution protects the right to bear them. If I decide I want to by a nuclear warhead, would the NRA go to bat for me, citing the second amendment? I highly doubt it.
But so much has been based on such a generic interpretation of the second amendment. Anyone that follows the law knows that nothing is so clear cut, but they seem to think the right to bear arms is. Let's look at what the Constitution does say:
"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."
A well regulated militia is the key part they constantly ignore. Was James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, a member of such militia? No he wasn't. He was an individual, acting alone using weapons he legally bought because of a highly misinterpreted right in our Constitution.
But something else sticks out in the wording of that right, the word "regulated". Regulation is something the right constantly cringes about. They say any form of regulation is a violation of our rights, yet the right they hold up the most specifically calls for it. Our founding fathers were smart enough to realize that people left alone to act on impulse with weapons could be dangerous, so they wanted regulation, meaning rules and training, to help protect the people from such individuals. That was their view, which is what one of our found fathers said. Here's Alexander Hamilton, which Jason Alexander also quotes:
"A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss."
Again, a militia.
I believe I'm safe in saying that the biggest enemy of the second amendment is those who use it so much. It's the people that constantly want to do away with the "regulation" and real interpretation of it in order to own any gun they desire. A look at the assaults weapon ban can provide insight into this. Once the ban went into affect in 1994, gun violence did decrease. But we are taking statistics and something that is so easy to spin. Take, for example, this opinion piece that appeared in the LA Times in June, 2005. It was authored by John R. Lott Jr of the American Enterprise Institute:
This wasn't supposed to happen. When the federal assault weapons ban ended on Sept. 13, 2004, gun crimes and police killings were predicted to surge. Instead, they have declined.
For a decade, the ban was a cornerstone of the gun control movement. Sarah Brady, one of the nation's leading gun control advocates, warned that "our streets are going to be filled with AK-47s and Uzis." Life without the ban would mean rampant murder and bloodshed.
Well, more than nine months have passed and the first crime numbers are in. Last week, the FBI announced that the number of murders nationwide fell by 3.6% last year, the first drop since 1999. The trend was consistent; murders kept on declining after the assault weapons ban ended.
Do you see the big twists in there? "more than 9 months" and "murders nationwide fell by 3.6% last year". First off is the time frame. The drop in crime only represents 3 months without the assault ban, not 9 months. This data is from 2004, yet the author put the first 6 months of 2005 into their summation.
Then you have the statistic being cited - murders. This doesn't just limit itself to guns, but rather strangulation, vehicular homicide, stabbing or any other way you can kill a person. It is a false statistic to cite. What would be better is comparing the number of murders caused by assault weapons with the ban and without.
That's why another statistic cited by gun control advocates always gets me "the number of shootings involving assault weapons is small". Well yes it is, thank God, but how about the number of people murdered or injured? When you look at that very important statistic, the number goes way up.
The absolute fact is that there is no need for an assault weapon except to increase the number of casualties from your hand. A man isn't going to go out and buy a high capacity semi-automatic to kill his wife. He just needs a standard capacity handgun. Instead they are going to buy one of these to inflict the greatest amount of death in the shortest amount of time possible. They are built for killing lots of people really fast and nothing else.
I have said many times in the past that I do believe in a right to bear arms. I have been a gun owner and enjoy shooting. But I also believe in a responsible right to bear arms. People should be checked out. There should be a waiting period to avoid those "impulse" buys. And we shouldn't have access to what can only be described as "weapons of mass killing".
The gun proponents don't realize that they are their own worst enemy. They are pushing for an unsustainable gun policy that risks leading to much tougher sanctions and increased limits of access. We are only one or two mass killings away from a majority of the people standing up and saying "enough" and our government having to take unprecedented action. So let's take time and talk sensible gun control and working to decrease needless bloodshed. Let's get the lunatics out of the conversation, on both sides of the arguments, and let the rationale adults decide the future of our second amendment. Let's try to prevent any future Batman massacres.