The Republican Party, for a long time, has tried to justify its policies by suggesting that it is trying to “protect us.” They seek to protect “family values,” “protect the unborn,” "protect children.” Words are cheap when they aren’t followed by bold action. If last week taught us anything, it is that we need bold action on guns.
“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”—the 2nd Amendment
This is the one-sentence constitutional amendment that divides our country and continues to result in senseless tragedy and the deaths of many of our citizens.
Does the Amendment say that we can own any weapon we want? No.
Does it say we can’t limit guns in any way shape of form? No.
Can a small child legally own a gun? Of course not!
Can we take a loaded gun onto a commercial airplane? No.
Can we own a gun that shoots nukes? Probably not—I’ll have to check with Tennessee or Texas.
The point is that the Amendment permits sensible exceptions to our rights under the Constitution, folks—sensible gun control is not unconstitutional.
This simple truth does not prevent overzealous gun rights advocates from arguing otherwise, while innocent citizens continue to die.
In addition to the rise in mass shootings in this country, made possible, at least in part, by easy access to dangerous weapons, we are also seeing a rise in irresponsible gun ownership and use. Over the past few days, we have seen:
In upstate New York, a 65-year-old man is charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly shot and killed a 20-year-old Saratoga County woman Saturday evening after she mistakenly drove up the man’s driveway.
In Kansas City, MO, an 84-year-old white man is charged in the shooting of 16-year-old black kid who was shot in the head after knocking on the wrong door. He was picking up his brothers and accidentally chose the wrong house. The kid sought assistance from three homeowners before one assisted him.
In Austin, TX, A 25-year-old man has been arrested after two cheerleaders were shot, one critically, after one of them mistakenly got into the wrong car, according to police and the owner of the gym where they trained.
Did these children present a threat to these gun-toting citizens? Of course not. But these incidents are foreseeable, illogical consequences of our nation’s obsession and refusal to regulate guns.
Would it be “sensible gun control” to have required these three shooters to enroll in and complete a gun safety and self-protection program? Of course not! While gun rights advocates in Congress or state legislatures do nothing about gun violence, citizens are senselessly and needlessly dying or suffering grievous injuries.
Why? Here’s why:
“We are becoming a heavily armed nation so fearful and angry, and so hair-trigger anxious that gun murders are just the ways in which we take out our frustrations.”
Senator Chris Murphy, one of the few impassioned legislators willing to tackle the gun issue, spoke these words on the Senate floor. He is correct. Irresponsible rhetoric and political cowardess have combined to return our country to the wild, wild west, where petty disputes were resolved by gun battles in the streets. Neighbors shoot well-intentioned trespassers first and ask questions later. Add a racial component, like the one in Kansas City, and the possibility for violence increases.
“Minor slights and indiscretions, small arguments, even simple wrong turns are becoming potentially deadly.”
Murphy is right again. My wife and I own a black minivan. My wife is constantly walking up to the wrong, but identical car, pulling on the door handle, then realizing it’s not ours. We laugh about it. She claims that “they all look alike.” She’s not wrong, many of today’s popular cars look alike.
Today, in America, we must now have a new version of “the talk,” because choosing the wrong vehicle can get you seriously hurt or killed in this country. Think I’m exaggerating? Let’s ask the families of two young cheerleaders.
Mark M. Bello is an attorney and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series, ripped-from-the headlines, realistic fiction that speak truth to power and champion the rights of citizens in our justice system. These novels are dedicated to the social justice movement. They educate, spark discussion and inspire readers to action. One of these novels, Betrayal High, was written in response to school shootings. For more information, please visit www.markmbello.com. Mark also hosts the Justice Counts podcast with Lean to the Left editor & publisher Bob Gatty, presenting bi-weekly interviews focused on social justice.