It’s Time to Re-Evaluate Assault Weapons on the Streets of America
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on January 12th, 2013
The recent mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., both rattled the senses of America in 2012.
Twenty-six people – 20 first-graders and six teachers and school officials in Newtown, were murdered in the elementary school on Dec. 14 when a troubled 20-year-old man shot his way into the building and systematically blasted students and staff with an assault rifle.
In Aurora, 12 people were murdered and 58 others were wounded last July 20 when a 25-year-old former doctoral student armed with a shotgun, pistol and semi-automatic rifle entered a movie theater during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie and randomly shot innocent movie-goers inside the theater.
As always after such tragedies, there has been a public outcry about gun violence, particularly involving assault weapons that are often involved in these kinds of mass killing incidents.
After the murders at the elementary school in Connecticut, President Barack Obama said that it is truly time to do something to stop these tragedies.
Vice President Joe Biden is now at work holding a series of meetings to explore the issue so that he can put some serious proposals for action on the president’s desk soon.
The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, already has shared its views that the guns are not the problem in this country. Part of the problem, says the NRA, lies in our inadequate mental health system which allows dangerous people who need treatment to be out on the streets. To prevent school shootings, the NRA reports, we need to arm our teachers and train them about how to use guns to protect themselves and their students in their buildings, according to a story on CNN.com.
That’s just preposterous.
Instead, it all starts with the U.S. Constitution, which includes the Second Amendment, the one that says that Americans shall have the right to own and bear arms.
Here’s what the Second Amendment says:
“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.”
And therein is the problem.
Many people say that the Second Amendment is simply a broad right that allows unrestricted gun ownership with no other caveats.
But we disagree.
The right to bear arms is not absolute. The right to bear arms does not universally and automatically mean that someone can have as many assault weapons and hollow point bullets as they want to own. The Second Amendment says no such thing, and obviously, such weapons of immense power didn’t exist when the Constitution was written and adopted.
Those who refer to the Constitution to support this idea or “right” are just not correct.
This idea that the Constitution is some sacred document that was written long ago and does not adapt to changing times is ridiculous.
The idea from some that owning assault weapons is a “right” because of the Second Amendment is inaccurate. Such ownership is not a God-given right. Guns are not a God-given right in any way.
The Constitution is a living document for this nation, and when its wording needs to be changed to meet new challenges and times we should consider making changes as part of the evolution of that sacred document.
On the issue of gun ownership and the Second Amendment, we are long overdue to finally take a look at what it means in 21st century America. We are not the same nation where citizens needed to be armed for a militia every day.
Instead we are a nation where people have the right to walk down their streets and in their neighborhoods and in their schools without fear of being shot or murdered.
This country is the most violent developed country in the world. No other country has the high number of deaths by handgun that we have here.
A major part of the reason for such gun violence is that guns are so prevalent and available in our nation. Criminals can easily get them. And yes, mentally-deranged people can get them, too, and use them to kill.
But if guns weren’t so easily available, such assaults, where dozens of people are killed in seconds by bad guys with rapid-fire weapons that blast out dozens of rounds very quickly, couldn’t happen.
It’s time for this nation to re-evaluate this difficult issue deeply and make needed changes. The mere fact that we have more gun-related deaths as a developed country than anywhere else in the world cries out that we need to take some steps to stop the carnage.
The Sandy Hook school shootings really hit the nation hard due to the ages of the student victims, first-graders, whose young lives were cut so short. Some states are looking at stricter gun laws in reaction to the killings at the school, according to a report in the Whittier Daily News.
New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo “isn’t waiting for a presidential task force on gun control to make its recommendations before making his case that New York should take strong action on its own,” the paper reported. “In a fiery annual State of the State address, the New York Democrat called on the legislature to enact tough restrictions on semiautomatic weapons. ‘No one hunts with an assault rifle,'” said Cuomo, according to the story. “No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer. End the madness now.”
Similar sentiments are being heard around the country since the shootings. In Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley recently “predicted his state would ban assault weapons and argued they are not the types of guns used for hunting animals, but to ‘kill human beings,'” the paper reported.
In Newtown, where the school shootings took place, a group of local residents is preparing to launch a national grass-roots initiative that will fight to reduce gun violence and to work to prevent more tragedies like the one that tore the small town apart, according to a story in The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
There is no question that this is an emotional, difficult, tough issue for us all to discuss in order to eventually reach some consensus about what to do.
But discuss it we must. We cannot stand by and do nothing any longer.
Yes, people kill people, but whether gun advocates like it or not, guns kill people.
And it’s time that high-performance killing machines such as assault weapons should no longer be freely allowed to be sold and owned in the United States. There is no defensible argument for their existence.
We need a civil, open, involved and honest discourse on this issue and we need it today.
Sadly, the tragedies of Sandy Hook Elementary and the Aurora movie theater killings give us the opportunity and the platform to have these discussions today.
Our thoughts and prayers will be with all of the families and loved ones of the victims of these crimes for years to come.
May we somehow be brave enough in this nation to find ways to prevent similar horrors while maintaining our freedoms and our way of life in this great country.
God Bless the United States of America.