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Gun Control



Beverly Gadson-Birch


            While this country is reacting to the recent tragedy at the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado during the opening night of Batman, I am fuming and America should be too.  While some shootings of the Aurora magnitude can be reduced through gun control, realistically it is difficult to completely eliminate weapons but even one life lost that could have been prevented is too much.   I am generally a well grounded person but America has leaned too far to the left when it comes to gun control.  I try not to let folks rustle my feathers but Congress has failed to put adequate measures into place that would reduce easy access to guns.    It boils down to one thing—politics.  No one wants to tackle the elephant in our nation not only because of his size but because of his influence. 

            How did this country get so far off track with guns?  Well, somewhere in the beginning, it appears that it was an inherent right.  Slaveholders used guns to keep their slaves under control. Guns were also used to hunt animals one of the man’s main source to provide food for his family.  And, finally, guns were used for protection.  While many think the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms, it merely protects that right.

            I am a part of the baby boomer era so I call things as I see it.  Guns became a hot commodity during the advent of the drug trade.  Tons of illegal guns were bought and sold in this country more commonly called the black market.  Illegal weapons fell in the hands of drug lords and young drug dealers in the hood for protection.  Drugs and guns went hand in hand.  Today, it seems like everyone has a gun.  Crime in this country has really gotten to the point where folks who never thought about owning a gun are obtaining one to protect themselves and their homes.  Home invasions are on the rise.  So, do citizens have a right to protect themselves, I say yes; but, even homeowners protection should be limited to one or two weapons—not an arsenal.

            And what have we to say about weapons in public places.  Let’s take the church for instance.  Do church goers have the right to bear arms in church?  During my research, I came across a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that is just unbelievable. A federal appeals court in Atlanta rejected a minister's argument that gun carriers had a constitutional right to bring side arms to worship services, leaving in place Georgia's 2010 law that bans guns in churches, synagogues and mosques.  Here you have a minister not a congregant arguing for the right of church goers to have guns in service.  We have had some random acts of violence in church just like any other public place, but do we really need guns in our churches? Do we carry them on college campuses or ballparks?  Here do we draw the line if it’s not in the church? It just goes against my principles of Christianity to sit in church armed or have someone next to me armed.

            While I was collecting my thoughts for this article a friend called and told me her 77 year old aunt shot and killed her 79 year old husband with a .357 magnum. Apparently she snapped.  She kept his body in the house for two days while still cooking for him and wondering why he wasn’t coming to the table.   The couple had been married for 50 years and he had been abusing her for most of those years.  The gun belonged to her husband.  Does abuse give us the right to kill?  I can’t answer that because all I know is yours truly ain’t taking no abuse. Like the old folks used to say, “you can’t make me over”.  Murder for spousal abuse happens and is still a highly debatable topic.

            As the nation watched the red haired deranged killer make his first appearance in court, I just couldn’t muster up any sympathy for this guy.  I don’t know if he was faking it or just plain ole crazy but crazies just don’t carry out premeditated sophisticated multiple murders.  Most crazies just snap and carry out spur of the moment acts of violence.  Crazies don’t purchase one gun at one location and then another at another location to avoid the seller reporting multiple gun sales to the same person.  

            Lawmakers are quick to throw a brick and hide their hands on gun control because guns lovers make big contributions to many of their campaigns. The National Rifle Association is a powerful network.  They have big time lobbyists.   H.R. 822 on the NRA site “recognizes the significant impact of the landmark cases, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), which found that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms and that the protections of the Second Amendment extend to infringements under state law. Today, 49 states have laws permitting concealed carry, in some circumstances. Forty states, accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. population, have right-to-carry laws. Thirty-six of those have "shall issue" permit laws (including Alaska and Arizona, which also allow carrying without a permit), two have fairly administered "discretionary issue" permit laws, and Vermont (along with Alaska and Arizona) allows carrying without a permit. (Eight states have restrictive discretionary issue laws.)”

            The gunman, James Holmes, 24 years old and intelligent by most accounts was able to move around within the system to obtain everything he needed including an AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon. He wasn’t crazy enough (and I am sure that will be his defense) to not purchase protection for himself.  He did not want to die.  He just wanted to kill.   In one of the news coverage, it was reported that one of the guns Holmes carried could shoot off 100 rounds. I checked the AR-15 out and the automatic could fire up to 800 rounds.  I don’t know if the automatic has been approved for citizens but according to my research the AR-15 semi-automatic was approved for civilian use since 1963.  Why on earth would anyone other than the military need an assault weapon that can fire off 100 rounds other than the military?  Legislators, shame on you for approving assault weapons to be used by citizens for carrying out these horrific and multiple slayings.  You are just as guilty as the crazies who purchase these weapons to kill.  There is not much we can do about the weapons already on the streets but we can put in place laws that will regulate which guns are legal and which are illegal and the punishment for being caught with illegal guns should carry a stiff penalty.

             I plan to call on my legislators to introduce legislation to ban assault weapons by citizens.  These are the first type of weapons crazies go after because they can kill multiple persons without stopping to reload.  Legislators, let me leave something for you to ponder.  Are the lives lost by deranged gunmen carrying assault weapons worth your political contributions?  Yesterday, someone else; today, it could be YOU.  And to add insult to this madness, taxpayers have to foot the bill for the trial.  Are you legislators snoozing or what?

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