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Saturday, May 18, 2013
It’s a good thing automobiles weren’t invented when the Constitution of the United States was being written. Our Founding Fathers may have felt compelled to add an amendment outlining the horseless carriage’s place in our society. It might have read, “While recognizing these contraptions are unreliable and most likely a passing fad, the right of the people to own and operate Automobiles shall not be infringed.”
No doubt we would now have another N.R.A., the National Right to Automobiles, resisting any laws to regulate and control the use of motorized vehicles, now far more pervasive in our society, far more powerful, and far more lethal than in their infancy.
“What? Drive on the right of the highway?” “Wear a seatbelt?” “Speed limits?” “Pollution control equipment?” “Annual safety inspections?” “Driver’s education and testing to get a license?” “Mandatory liability insurance?” “Make us register our vehicles?”
“It’s that slippery slope leading to our cars and trucks being taken away from us! Not until you pry my keys from my cold, dead hands!”
This NRA would argue, “We don’t need to take drunks off the highway. We need more drunks on the highway. When we start realizing how many people are driving under the influence, we’ll start driving more carefully and defensively. Additionally, with more drunken drivers, we’ll become more adept at being able to spot impaired operators and learn how to get out of their way.”
Our Senate is unable to pass a law for meaningful background checks on gun purchases. We can’t blame just the Republicans. Somehow, for some reason, the majority Democrats have gone along with requiring more than a simple majority to pass legislation.
Now it takes 60 percent of the Senate. If the Senate gets 60 Democratic members, will that threshold be raised to, say, 70 percent? Will Democratic Leader Harry Reid say to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “Here, let me tie both my hands behind my back before we vote on that”?
Conservatives and the National Rifle Association argue that what we need is not gun control laws, but more good people out there with guns. Really? Well, I’m one of the good people. I own guns and have a concealed weapons permit.
Had I been at one of the horrific venues where someone went berserk — the New River Mall, Newtown, the theater in Colorado, Virginia Tech — I might have been able to stop the killing. I might have gotten the drop on the gunman and taken him out.
Wait, though, how do I know that armed person is the gunman? Act too fast and I might kill someone like me, another one of those goodpeople-with-a-gun that the NRA and conservatives have called for. However, wait a second too long, and if he’s the bad guy, I’m dead.
If those opposing a meaningful discussion on gun violence have it their way, there may be dozens of people like me on the scene — lacking identification, proper training and the skill to do what we think we are doing.
This dangerous situation worsens when the professionals get to the scene. Now, rather than being free to confront the gunman, they are confronted with numerous armed people who have to be identified and disarmed. Even if we are all quick to put our weapons down and get to the ground, valuable time, resources and personnel are now wasted on watching us.
The people of Boston got it right. Get off the streets and let the professionals do their job without a bunch of amateurs getting in the way, maybe killing the wrong people or being killed themselves.
Officers from federal, state and local police forces and soldiers of the National Guard were able to do their job. Despite their training, one officer, Sean Collier, was killed, and one officer, Richard Donahue, was gravely wounded. What would the toll have reached had there been a bunch of good-people-with-guns out there?
There’s an ironic footnote here. These heroes are pledged not to a fuehrer or supreme ruler, not to a president or governor or member of Congress, but to our Constitution. They are pledged to protect it — and us — from all comers, domestic and foreign. Yet the NRA and its ilk would have us believe we need to be protected — by being armed with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — from these very people if our government goes bad.
As if we’d need protection from these men and women. They are our defenders against evildoers, domestic and foreign.
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