In Pittsburgh on April 4th this year, Richard Poplawski raged at his mother, she called the police, and four hours later he had killed three policemen and wounded another with his AK-47.President Obama reaffirmed his campaign promises to restore a federal ban on various semi-automatic assault weapons. On the other hand, White House spokesman, Ben La Bolt, stated, “The president supports the Second Amendment, respects the tradition of gun ownership in this country, and he believes we can take commonsense steps to keep our streets safe.” I do not believe this can be. With assault weapons rife, with gun control virtually non-existent, our streets are among the least safe on the planet. Common sense is completely absent when it comes to guns. America is the homicide capital of the industrial world. Guns clearly do not make us safe.But we Americans do love our guns. And, yes, President Obama is correct in acknowledging that gun ownership in this country is “a tradition.” That it is a nutcase tradition is, apparently, beside the point. Tradition is tradition. So in some countries female genital mutilation is a tradition. It’s nuts! But it is a tradition. Meanwhile the daily carnage goes on in America and more than 80 people per day are killed by guns and 200 per day wounded (www.brady.org). In the eyes of rational, sane people in other countries, our fascination and devotion to guns is insane.What is so disturbing to many of us is that we can’t even read our own 2nd Amendment accurately. The amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”Notice several grammatical and linguistic realities: One, there are three collective nouns referring to human beings – militia, state, people. All refer to groups of people not individuals.Two, the first clause refers not just to a militia, but a well-regulated militia. Two hundred and fifty million individuals – some nuts, many unbalanced, owning guns and shooting their neighbors, family members, school classmates, etc. whenever they get angry is not a well-regulated anything. It is an unregulated, chaotic collection of individuals.The framers of the constitution grew up in a historical period where British soldiers could walk into your home, eat your food, etc. without invitation. Hence, the right of the people – again notice the collective “the people” – to bear arms but to do so within the confines of a well-regulated militia.Well, we have such a regulated militia. It is called the Armed Forces of the USA – the Army, Navy, Marines and they, along with police forces provide “the security of a free state.” Random, un-regulated, erratic and volatile individuals actually rob “the people” of their freedom and security. We kill more of each other in this country every decade than the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. Our streets are neither safe nor secure and, hence, we are not free of fear or attacks by gun-toting head cases.Five members of the Supreme Court (June 26, 2008) – the five you would expect: Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito recently exhibited their inability to interpret the 2nd Amendment by rejecting D.C.’s ban on handgun ownership. They said, in essence, that even though the 2nd Amendment does not say individuals have the right to bear arms, they – the five – believe it does imply such. So, without any hope whatsoever that we will ever come to our senses, I offer yet another tilt at the American windmill.
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