The Transylvania Times -

Time To Act

 

Last updated 12/19/2012 at 12:18pm



“It’s time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common-sense discussion and move in a reasonable way. Every child should have a safe place in their life.”

-Joe Manchin, Democratic Sen. From West Virginia and lifetime NRA member.

The facts are undeniable and rather staggering. When it comes to the most fundamental reason of having a government – protecting our citizens, including children – the United States has failed. The facts are staggering and undeniable.

• Gun violence kills 10 times more Americans each year than died on Sept. 11, 2001.

• In Newtown, Conn., 20 first grade children and six adults were killed, each being shot between three and 11 times.

• In 2008, there were 12,000 firearm-related homicides in the U.S. That year Japan experienced 11.

• In the same year, 587 Americans were killed by guns that had been discharged accidentally.

• America’s gun laws are the loosest in the industrialized world and our rate of gun-related homicides is the highest, by far, in the world. Of the world’s 23 richest countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times as high as that of the other 22 countries.

It would be quite different if such violence occurred throughout the world on a daily basis. Then we could honestly say that this violence is an intractable problem. But this violence is not a problem in the rest of the world. All of the other industrialized countries seem to have figured this out.

Japan is probably the best example. One year the Japanese had just two gun-related homicides. Their highest number in recent years has been 22 gun-related homicides in 2007. The Japanese have very strict gun control legislation and requirements. Yet, they also enjoy the same fundamental rights we Americans have: the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, the right to own private property, the right to pursue their dreams. They also have the great privilege of being able to send their children to school without worrying that they will be murdered and they can travel any street in their country day or night and not worry about being shot.

Part of the American character, or at least it used to be, is the belief and willingness that we can overcome any obstacle. We’ve made great strides to combat the spread of AIDS. Every year we hold a Relay for Life to raise money to fight cancer. We have put men on the moon. And yet, when it comes to gun-related homicides and massacres, we throw up our hands and basically say “there’s nothing we can do,” when, in fact, other freedom-loving people seem to have greatly minimized – if not solved – this problem.

Gun-related homicides have become so commonplace in our culture that they do not register with us unless there are several people killed. When that occurs, politicians and other leaders pray for the victims and their families, offer condolences and talk about the evil and deranged individuals who commit these horrific acts. But they take no action to prevent these acts from occurring again. As the president said Sunday night at the memorial service in Newtown, that needs to change, and at present some other politicians seem to agree.

There will be those who claim that the Second Amendment is absolute. No amendment is absolute. The First Amendment speaks to Congress making “no law … abridging freedom of speech” but there are laws to prevent libel and slander. There are laws that restrict people from owning certain arms; otherwise, we could all own grenades, flamethrowers, bazookas, surface-to-air missiles, etc. Government has not only the right but the responsibility to weigh individual rights with the public good. And when we discuss the Second Amendment, we should discuss all of it, including the clause “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

Almost no one in this country wants to ban weapons used for hunting or six-shot firearms that individuals might use to protect themselves from an attacker or intruder. The concern is the legality of guns whose primary function is to allow an individual to kill dozens of people quickly.

All those who were killed in Newtown, Conn; Aurora, Colo.; and the other mass murders in this country lost all of their rights – the rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and their freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly. They lost them all.

If we cannot protect the primary right, the right to life, then all of the other rights are meaningless.

 
 

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