On one of our recent talk radio shows, broadcasting live on CURRENT (Rapid Radio Network) the discussion centered around gun law reform, primarily because of the terrible events that unfolded at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC the previous Monday morning. Co-host and DC are public affairs correspondent BB Lawson, guest John F. McMullen and I talked about the rights and wrongs of gun law reform. Gun control, responsible gun control, doesn’t have to curb anyone’s constitutional rights. Gun rights activists toss the Second Amendment around with impunity, choosing to read into the simple sentence that they have an almost God-given RIGHT to bear arms. Here it is, unedited, direct from the Library of Congress:
THE SECOND AMENDMENT
The Second Amendment, one of the ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States comprising the Bill of Rights, states: “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 meaning of this sentence is not self-evident, and has given rise to much commentary but relatively few Supreme Court decisions.
Indeed, interpreting this one sentence seems beyond the capabilities of a majority of Supreme Court justices, which baffles me. That amendment was written in 1791. I take no issue with my fellow citizens being allowed to bear the arms of 1791, given that they would have been individually crafted by a gunsmith, and equipped with rudimentary rifling. Loaded through the muzzle, a single shot would have been fired with a flintlock. I do have issue, however, with my fellow citizens being allowed to bear the military-level arms of 2013 – automatic weapons that can kill and maim multiples of people in minutes. The question arises as to whether a document written in 1791 can be interpreted to mean that ordinary individuals who are not part of a “militia” are granted the right to “bear” high-capacity semi-automatic military weaponry.
THE WASHINGTON NAVY YARD DEAD
Police have now identified all the fatalities resulting from the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington. The shooter, a 34-year old from Fort Worth, Texas, called Aaron Alexis, managed to fatally shoot twelve people and seriously injure another eight before he also was killed that morning. The shooting is one of the worst massacres in living memory at a U.S. military facility, and one of the deadliest single events ever in the nation’s capital. The dead have been identified by police as:
Arthur Daniels, 51
Mary Frances Knight, 51
Gerald L. Read, 58
Martin Bodrog, 54
Richard Michael Ridgell, 52
Michael Arnold, 59
Sylvia Frasier, 53
Kathy Gaarde, 62
John Roger Johnson, 73
Frank Kohler, 50
Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46
Vishnu Pandit, 61
As we go to press, we are still waiting on a list of the injured, estimated by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray as being an additional eight people. Gray reported that the injured include a D.C. police officer, Scott Williams, shot in the leg while responding to the tragedy. While there are no guarantees, his doctors say they hope Williams will be able to walk again. I wish him well, and hope his recovery period is not too long.
AMERICANS FOR RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS
Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, expressed his and Gabby’s condolences on Monday for the Navy Yard victims saying “Gabby and I have been there.” Kelly is a retired Navy pilot and NASA space shuttle commander, who has, along with his wife, co-founded the PAC “Americans for Responsible Solutions.” Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman in 2011 while meeting with constituents in Tucson, Arizona. Since Giffords stepped down from Congress last year, she and Kelly have become ever more vocal and involved gun control advocates. Today, Giffords and Kelly said that “Responsible gun owners should feel outraged when criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can get their hands on guns and use them to harm children and families. While Congress may be divided on how to stop this problem, Americans simply are not.”
SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
It seems like yesterday that the name Adam Lanza was foresront in everyone’s minds – on December 14, 2012, he armed himself with ten 30-round magazines for his Mother’s semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle and bullets for two handguns and a shotgun, all purchased by his Mother. Lanza didn’t make it home alive that day. Nor did the 26 people he murdered, 20 of them school children ages six and seven. He shot them dead in less than five minutes, every two seconds firing a bullet. That was the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, CT.
MENTAL INSTABILITY AND PARANOIA
Aaron Alexis was reportedly suffering from paranoia and armed with several weapons, at least one a concealed-carry handgun. My co-host BB Lawson read that Alexis legally purchased a shotgun; was not allowed to purchase a handgun in the state of Virginia; and that the handgun he used in the Navy Yard was one he found there. Even so, the Navy Yard is a secure military facility with armed guards posted throughout. Police regularly patrol the perimeter, yet Alexis was able to take twelve lives and destroy countless others indirectly. With a history of emotional and mental instability compounded by violence and several arrests, it is puzzling indeed as to how he qualified for a concealed-carry permit in Texas, and more so, that he was able to purchase weapons and ammunition.
THE DO-NOTHING CONGRESS
Monday’s tragedy raises the question again of why Congress is not taking appropriate action to tighten the loopholes in our country’s existing gun laws. Mass shootings are taking place all over America and we are doing nothing about it. A brave few are standing up to the gun lobby, receiving very little support in political circles. Our lax gun laws were created with the assistance of the gun lobby, and unless real change occurs, we are all at risk. Our children and our grandchildren are at risk.
NO MORE NAMES
Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, is now the nationally-recognized face of gun control and gun law reform, whether that was his intention or not. He pulled together a group of like-minded mayors to found Mayors Against Illegal Guns, who work to reduce gun violence. As an organization of more than 1,000 mayors, the group actively campaigns for new gun control measures. The Mayors have specifically targeted senators who voted against a bipartisan measure to expand background checks on gun sales. They have taken to the campaign trail this year, with the No More Names rally traveling across the country. They claim to have visited twenty five towns in each state, reading the names of the more than 9,000 Americans who have been killed by guns since the Newtown shooting last year. At each stage they have been joined by local officials wanting to highlight the need to reduce gun violence in America. Today’s rally in D.C. was the culmination of the No More Names tour, where the members got to meet their members of Congress and Senate.
GUN LAW REFORM - ACT NOW
When it comes to talking about gun reform, now is the time to act. The painful prospect of yet another mass shooting is just too awful to contemplate, and we must not stand by doing nothing.
For all the lives we can save going forward, for all the pain and suffering that can be avoided, stand up for gun law reform now – DO SOMETHING!
By Margaret Mulvihill - Twitter @LawsonMulvihill