No one argues that the Second Amendment protects the rights of people to own firearms in our society. But is or should that Constitutional Right be as absolute as it has most recently been interpreted to be in recent Supreme Court decisions such as Heller. Some people say yes, but many others say no. That we have become a society so inundated with guns and gun violence that the right to bear arms can no longer be held so far above the right to public safety. The dominance of the idea of gun rights in our nation has become far too extreme, even in the United States Supreme Court in our opinion. Though Justice Scalia left an opening that indeed there could be restrictions if they were considered constitutional. Heller was strengthened even further by this court with McDonald v City of Chicago.
The third link makes it clear that some restrictions on gun rights would withstand Constitutional scrutiny though the gun rights advocates deny this possibility and believe any restriction is a violation of their Constitutional liberties. Yet even First Amendment free speech rights have restrictions as everyone knows. We have heard so many gun rights advocates use the argument that the Amendments to the Constitution are in order of importance and precedence. If that is so it is a blow to their argument and not necessarily a plus.
Why? Because it has been decided time and time again that the First Amendment has limitations. So by their own arguments the First Amendment is not absolute. So why should the Second Amendment be absolute? The restrictions on the First Amendment are to protect the public safety. Not falsely crying fire in a crowded building. So why then should anyone be able to bring a weapon into a theater as James Holmes did in Colorado and kill, maim and injure many people? Firearms rights need to be looked at under that same type of scrutiny and circumscription. Unfortunately at present we have a United States Supreme Court unwilling to do so. Though Schenck was eventually overturned the 4th link shows restrictions on free speech which are upheld as Constitutional
How many gun related deaths have occurred since the Newtown Massacre? The massacre that horrified us all so much. But not enough to make us rise up and tell groups like the absolutist NRA that they no longer decide for us all what will happen with guns in our nation. They get their way repeatedly through donations to politicians who go along with them and by threatening others who do not go along with their view.
There have been over 82,000 gun deaths in America since Sandy Hook/Newtown. How can that be justified in any way? It can not be. It is a travesty.
Since 2013 there have been 150 school shootings in the United States by one estimate. Another statistic that should horrify us all when children or young adults can not go to school without fear of gun violence.
This next resource is an excellent one. It gives a running statistical count of gun deaths, injuries, and so forth.
As you can see there have been over 40,000 gun incidents in 2015. Only 950 were in defensive use. Over 10,000 have ended in death. No other major industrialized nation has these statistics.
Here are a couple of charts showing what we are saying. There are 88 guns for every 100 Americans.
What have we become? More and more we are returning to almost a Wild West like mentality and existence. Where guns rule the day. It is a very sad commentary on our nation, our society and our beliefs. That we place gun ownership over the lives of our children and our fellow citizens. Our friends the Australians said it well. The second link’s chart shows where we stand in the world. We are fourth after 3 second world countries. This should be a national shame to all of us.
The Charleston South Carolina shooting broke all of our hearts. That a racist should do such a thing in the year 2015 was incomprehensible to many of us. The Confederate Flag was removed from the South Carolina Capitol but again nothing was done about guns and gun violence.
Then came Oregon and the shooting at Umpqua Community College. The shooter and his mother in that incident were eerily similar to the Newtown shooter and his mother. Why either of these women knowing their children had issues should give them access to weapons is stunning in itself.
More of us especially parents need to become aware of and understand mental illness. To not allow any mentally ill person to have a gun. Not all people who commit murder however are mentally ill. Some are criminal elements or evil individuals (Such does exist) like gang members, drug dealers, racists, bigots and other types of extremists. None of those groups should have access to weapons in our society. Especially not weapons that can kill many people with little effort. For much of his life Chris Harper Mercer lived in the State of California not Oregon. His mother and he had only moved back to Oregon for a couple of years. Neighbors in California described him as nervous, always with his mother and wearing the same military style garb every day. What young person wears the same clothing every day? None that we know of.
Obviously he had issues while he was in California. Yet he never acted out there. Why did he not conduct his rampage in California? There could of course be many reasons but one to us stands out clearly. Because neither his mother or Mercer could obtain those weapons or amounts of ammunition he had in his possession and at home in California. Let’s compare the two states.
1. Oregon Assault Weapons- http://www.gunlaws101.com/state/law/oregon/assault-weapon-restrictions Oregon has no restrictions.
2. California Assault Weapons- http://smartgunlaws.org/assault-weapons-in-california/ California bans assault weapons except for those from before the passage of the law. Those who have them must register them with the California Department of Justice.
3. Oregon high capacity clip laws- http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2013/02/oregon_lawmakers_drop_attempt.html
They have no restrictions due to fierce opposition the attempt to ban them was dropped.
4. California high capacity magazine laws. http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/NoHiCapChemSpray.pdf
Possession is not banned but there are numerous restrictions. It would have been extremely difficult for Mercer or his mother to obtain the amount of firepower he had in both his home and possession in California. The fact that this horrific shooting was not carried out in California (Thank the Heavens) may be because of the difference in these laws. The NRA of course will tell you no. In fact they have come up with five untruths to try and convince people that gun regulation is unneeded since the Oregon shooting.
This is what they do after every shooting. Come out with a range of lies, meritless narrations and doctored statistics to make their case against any form of firearms regulation. It has been going on for a very long time and will not stop until we not only stop believing them but stop going along with what they want. Oregon is a good example of this issue. Recently a new law was passed there.concerning background checks. Some sheriffs are saying that they will refuse to enforce the new law. That is not surprising to us.
Why is it not surprising? Because we have heard this before concerning Oregon sheriffs. In fact we posted some of them including the Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin where the Umpqua Community College shooting took place. It was removed by Google after the sheriffs complained. He has already made his opinions known to Vice President Biden regarding gun control.
We quote from the above article-
A month after the Sandy Hook and Clackamas Town Center shootings, Hanlin wrote to Vice President Joe Biden to ask him not to “tamper with or attempt to amend” the Second Amendment. He warned that he and his deputies would not enforce any law they regarded as unconstitutional.
He would not enforce any law they regarded unconstitutional. As has been written in this blog before this refusal to abide by the law and one’s oath is called nullification. It was frequently used before the Civil War and during the time of desegregation. All of these sheriffs should be removed from their positions and arrested, elected or not.
But Umqua Community College is located in a rural area of Oregon and there was even opposition to the President’s visit after the massacre. They wrongly believe he wants to change their way of life. Unfortunately for them they wish to believe he is publicizing their tragedy for his gun control beliefs. When in fact what happened there is its own best rationale for further gun safety laws with or without Obama’s presence.
Some in Oregon have hope that now further gun control measures might be considered though it is yet too early to tell. There will of course be a large core of opposition to any measures restricting guns there which is unfortunate. College students should be able to study in peace, not fear.
Hanlin and those like him are the extremists of our society. Taking a literal view of a complex subject. We no longer live in the days of muskets. Our weapons are far more complicated in their creation and far deadlier.
Do we really believe that our Constitution is a stagnant, dead document? That the Founders had no future vision of how things might change? I believe that they did. That is why within the Constitution is enshrined the right of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution. The right is also there for the President to take Executive Action if appropriate circumstances arise. We have not always agreed with the Justices on many issues. One of them is on gun rights. But we believe at present that the US has a core of Conservative Justices who view the Second Amendment with the same wrongful tunnel vision as the NRA and the Oregon Sheriffs. Why we don’t know. Because certainly not all of the Justices or the Courts residents before this group was appointed felt the same way as they do.
For two reasons we may not see appropriate gun safety laws for some time yet. 1. Congress in particular the House of Representatives will never pass any form of law involving firearms unless it is to loosen them. 2. This particular core of Republican Conservative Supreme Court Justices will continue to refuse to allow anything involving gun control to stand. Unless of course their fellow more reasonably minded Justices can change their minds.
We can continue to work at the state level to get some gun legislation enacted. The Oregon law was a beginning for them. In Milwaukee two police officers won an unprecedented lawsuit against a gun store. But most of the gun industry is protected from lawsuits. Hilary Clinton uses the words wholly protected which some dispute. But the truth is that they are mostly very broadly protected.
The state level is at present our avenue for further smart gun laws. California is once again working to improve theirs including banning fully the large capacity magazines as well as other measures.
Some states however are doing the opposite and attempting to nullify gun laws that have not yet been passed. Almost all are in Western and Southern States. This just shows the huge level of extremism and paranoia among gun owners and their supporters. Especially those who belong to groups like the NRA. Considering that President Obama has never suggested taking away anyone’s weapons to hunt or to protect themselves at home. These are the neurotic beliefs fueled by those like Wayne LaPierre the NRA’s paranoid leader. That the government is coming to take your guns. That black helicopters are watching all gun owners. These are the delusions of sick minds fueling a frenzy over actions that are not occurring nor will they.
For decades the NRA had found ways to stop researchers from even being able to study gun violence. Now once in 2015 even after the Charleston Shooting Congress quietly rejected an amendment allowing the CDC to study gun violence.What we have now was done by Executive Action and could be revoked by the next President.
The Conservative Gun lobby and their advocates continue to lie as well about President Obama’s previous Executive Actions regarding guns.
Here is the actual list of those Executive Actions none of which harm gun owners in any fashion. Again we can see the paranoia of the extremists among gun owners.
The ban was indeed lifted two years ago on the CDC doing gun research but yet they continue to hesitate. Why is the question. Is it fear that Congress will cut their funding? At present Congress is blocking what is called dedicated funding for such research. If the CDC pulls funds from other areas it is possible Congress will cut those funds from them as well.They must have no desire to become the target of the ravenous gun rights advocates in the United States House of Representatives where all funding is initiated. They are not blind and can see what the crazies in our government are trying to do to Planned Parenthood.
What a terrible perversion it is that the CDC can not do the research required to aid Americans due to a powerful gun lobby and a recalcitrant Congress. It is both disgusting and disquieting to people of reason. Another excuse the gun lobby uses is look at the crime rate in big cities like Baltimore. They have many gun deaths and strict gun laws. But the question is where do those guns come from? They are trafficked to those cities from states with lax gun laws. Laws that are weak and without teeth or lacking all together such as assault weapons being without restriction in Oregon.
In links four and six we see Democrats calling for stronger gun safety measures. Especially that weapons trafficking be made a felony which at present it is not. If you look at link number three directly above you can see that individual only received 3 years in prison for trafficking. Anyone who traffics guns illegally knows that they will be used in crimes and will potentially kill people. Weapons trafficking should be a felony with a very long hard prison term of at least 10 years. A second offense should be life in prison and the third life without parole in our opinion. How many Americans have to die before we finally see the truth?
The Think Progress article concerning the Australian viewpoint of our reaction to the Umpqua Massacre perhaps says it best. We are supposed to be that ‘Shining City On A Hill’ as Ronald Reagan so elegantly called us. We are supposed to be the beacon of hope and democracy the world looks to in troubled times. At other times for inspiration and strength. Yet how can that be when within our own nation our citizens are neither free or safe? We are being consumed by the scourge of gun violence. How can a nation be considered great when-
Children can not go to school in NJ without being killed beside their teacher. Children can not go to a movie theater in Colorado and enjoy a movie without being killed in a hail of gunfire. Good Christian people can not go to a bible study and invite a stranger to join them without having their lives ripped away by a racist. Where gentle hearted Sikh worshipers can not escape the ravages of a second racist with a weapon either. Where young men and women along with a few older students can not go to school in Oregon without facing a young man with evil in his heart and a multitude of weaponry bent on carnage. A hero came forth to try and stop him and was shot himself. Someone who had already been a hero by serving his country. Then two hero police officers arrived and shot Mr. Mercer. In a cowardly act unable to endure having done to him what he had done to others he killed himself. But heroes can not always be present and it is stronger laws that will safeguard us not dependence on the valiant deeds of our fellow citizens. These are only a few examples.
How then can other countries look to us and still call us ‘great’? The Australians faced their demons and defeated them. After a spate of eleven mass shootings culminating in the infamous Port Arthur massacre they did the right thing and passed comprehensive gun safety measures.
How they must look upon us as the article states with disgust. That we are not strong enough to defeat our demons. That we prefer dead citizens to perhaps curtailing anyone’s rights or privileges. We refuse to even take the actions that will pass Constitutional muster. Such as closing the gun show loophole. Passing a law making trafficking a felony. Strengthening background checks. Funding the CDC to study gun violence. How cowardly we must appear to them. Or at least our elected leaders must. We can learn so much from them about reaching down deep and finding the courage to do what is right for our nation. For our children’s future and the good of our society.
We must all stand strong and demand change before America devolves into a nation so wrought with gun violence that there is no hope for change or betterment. We can not continue on this path. We must not be cowed by those extremists who threaten nullification. That threat sounds so much like the old days of revolution and secession. We can not abide that type of blackmail we must reject it utterly. Those in positions of authority who voice it should be arrested. Nullification is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause and those engaging in it should be treated accordingly. Any law conflicting with federal law is considered void. If a sheriff refuses to aid in an arrest of someone involving gun laws they disagree with and federal authorities are present that sheriff should be immediately taken into custody.
The United States Of America was meant to be that ‘Shining City On A Hill’ with the beacon of hope glowing around the world. But it can not be seen as such until we resolve our own internal issues. There are more and more of these mass shootings and gun violence in general. It must end. It is not the entire problem of course the roots of the issues run deep. Poverty, racism, poor housing, joblessness, drugs, mental illness left untreated are all pieces of the problem. Gun violence is the outward manifestation of the anger and resentment created by the root issues. Issues that must also be solved. But those are long term projects not short term occurrences.
Sometimes the manifestation must be dealt with first in order to calm the situation. Why? Because it covers up and hides the other issues and has become an issue in its own right that has taken on a life of its own. The gun problem must be dealt with first while the others are being worked on. We must take all the measures the Constitution allows us to in gun safety measures. At the same time as a society work towards resolving the issues of poverty that breeds hunger and suffering. Joblessness that breeds hopelessness. Drug addiction that brings death and despair. Mental Illness that brings confusion and pain to both the affected individual and their family. Racism that is in itself hatred and breeds hatred in return. Are we not so great a nation that we can not resolve these issues.
We of the Den believe we can if we choose to. But too many extremists are now in our society who do not want to resolve all of these matters. Who refuse to give up one iota of their ‘liberty’ as they see it in narrow minded terms. First we must begin to change Congress electing a more reasonable group of legislators. We must take back state houses wherever we can and pass laws beneficial to the populace as a whole. We must keep a Democrat in the White House to ensure that the Supreme Court eventually has more liberal justices appointed. We must talk and educate until more and more citizens understand the seriousness of this problem. Together if we work hard those who see a future America free of this awful violence will prevail.
See more if you wish at the following- Here