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What Are My Rights?
6/22/2016 1:37:42 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

Yesterday, citizens were urged to call their Senators and ask them to support S.2934/Brady 2.0 legislation to Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016 which would expand background checks on all gun sales and S.551 Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 (Feinstein Amendment).

The vote failed. South Carolina Senators Lindsay Graham and Senator Tim Scott voted against the legislation. During the upcoming election, let’s not forget we have some work to do. If your legislators do not care about your safety, then resolve it at the polls. Both Senators Graham and Scott are from a state that has seen one of the most horrific crimes of this century and yet they voted against legislation that would help stem the number of victims killed during an attack by keeping assault weapons out of the hands of dangerous and unstable persons.

Senator Graham, who owns up to having an assault weapon, claims he would rather have an assault weapon than a shotgun. According to, Senator Graham told Attorney General Eric Holder that an AR-15/assault weapon would have been a better defense tool than a shotgun during Hurricane Katrina and Sandy.

One example he gave was in case of a natural disaster where you might have a lawless environment and gangs are roaming the streets. Well Senator, in case your head has been in the sand for the past 20 years, the lawless environment can be attributed to the climate, and I am not talking about the weather, in this country and failure on the part of legislators to act responsively.

In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the lawlessness resulted when the people were abandoned and left for dead. So, Mr. Senator, you feel that you must protect your family with an AR-15?

What do you think about the people in New Orleans who were just trying to survive that died at the hands of police officers? They were victims of a failed system.

Would you have gunned them down with your assault weapon? Would you have known the “good looters” from the “bad looters”? The good looters would be the ones trying to find food, medicine or some dry clothes for their family.

Let’s put things in prospective. Remember, Hurricane Katrina came ashore on August 29. It was hot as Hades then. The folks lost everything. And the government, who they trusted, abandoned them.

There was ample opportunity to get those folks out of New Orleans before the storm struck. Buses were lined up in school yards. Even after the storm, you had a private citizen who sent his plane in to fly the animals out. That’s how the poor is treated in this country.

Senator, do you really consider the people of New Orleans gangs? When government officials fail to act on behalf of its citizens, then citizens act to survive. Senator, you don’t need an assault weapon; you need a change of heart. No one needs an assault weapon other than the military but now that you have allowed them out there, do something about controlling where they end up?

What has happened in this country is the National Rifle Association has been running the country. Legislators are taking their marching orders from those that stand to profit from the sale of weapons. And legislators are taking more than just marching orders. The National Rifle Association is highly involved in politics. They carry a lot of power in this country.

S.2934 and S.551 are just reasonable attempts to save lives. Senators Graham and Scott, you have done your constituents a disservice by not taking gun control and/or reform seriously. It is important that you support legislation to reduce the number of deaths by assault weapons and to keep them out of the hands of terrorists and persons seeking to destroy the inalienable rights of others.

The little children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the church goers of Emanuel 9 and the LGBT party-goers at the Orlando nightclub are public places where we should feel safe. If we can’t send out children to school, go to church or enjoy an evening of fun, then you tell me Senators, what has America become?

Senators, I have been a law abiding citizen all of my life. What are my rights? Don’t I have the same rights to be protected under the Constitution that you swore to defend as the assault weapons crazies? If so, and you don’t think I am crazy, then do something about limiting access to assault weapons and increasing the “waiting period” to purchase a gun.

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