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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 10:53

Wacky Gun Laws and Self-Serving Right-Wing Orators

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What a sad time this is for the families of Newtown Connecticut and indeed for our entire country. We have failed as a people to come to grips with what freedom means as opposed to license; many among us continue to confuse the two. At countless rallies there have been people holding signs that called upon fellow citizens to stand their ground and wear their guns proudly as if guns were the measure of a man, or a woman for that matter. Even after the terrible events of recent days there remain those who recite the familiar bromides that guns don’t kill, people do and the solution as some would have it is to arm everyone, teachers in schools for example, and whoever else might find themselves in the line of fire.

 I used to travel up route 8 in Connecticut to visit my daughter who was at school in North Barrington. In Amenia there was a huge brick facility that housed prisoners of various mental infirmities - the most dangerous and unstable on the lower floors where the windows had bars on them. It was a creepy feeling to pass that building and imagine what went on inside. But one day the building was empty. Apparently New York State was short of funds and closed the facility, among others leaving, I was told, former inmates to fend for themselves. It isn’t clear what that meant exactly but there were numerous troubled souls roaming the streets of NYC afterwards with no access to mental health care and no doubt Amenia’s problem wards joined them.


At Simon’s Rock, my daughter’s school back then, my daughter befriended a young boy she described as descending further and further into a mental bathos, more or less slipping away. Something seemed to have happened to him as he fell into a torpor from which he seemed incapable of recovering.  In any case she left the school before one of the first school-shooting incidents occurred the following year, with her friend killing a teacher and a student. He was able to have ammunition shipped directly to his dorm without anyone asking what was in those boxes he was receiving or noticing that he was becoming more and more troubled.

In the horrific throes of this latest and saddest gun violence what are we to make of our wacky gun laws that allow weapons to be purchased online without proper background checks? And how did the early intent of the second amendment become justification for the kind of carnage we have recently witnessed? A careful reading of the Second Amendment indicates that in its various versions of the amendment “a well-regulated militia” is always part of the equation. Nowhere is it written that everyone no matter how deranged is entitled to carry a firearm. Likewise there is no modern-day exception that would allow the kind of heavy-duty weaponry to be utilized by average citizens. General Wesley Clark remarked that people who want an assault weapon they should join the military because the army has lots of such weapons.

Surely there is no need for armor-piercing bullets or multiple-round magazines in the normal course of events. No hunter needs a giant clip to kill a deer. And using multiple bullets to kill a duck would render the bird inedible, and should put the hunting argument to rest once and for all. As for the notion that we need protection from an over-arching federal government how much could we hope to accomplish against tanks and other armored vehicles no matter how many automatic weapons we had at hand.

Mike Huckabee’s suggestion that the carnage in Newtown shouldn’t come as a surprise because we have shut God out of our schools was one of the more repugnant comments to surface at a time when every sane person is trying to utter words of comfort and find solutions for our gun problem. No doubt there will be more self-serving right-wing orators in the days to come.