- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
It was predictable, of course. The National Rifle Association, which has gotten really good at this sort of thing — they’ve had a lot of opportunities to practice lately — issued a statement on the day of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., that said, “until the facts are thoroughly known, NRA will not have any comment.”
And it seems that manna from heaven was not long in coming to the NRA as the press reported that the murderer had behavioral problems and may even have been on medication. Case closed. Not our problem.
Except that it is.
For a moment, let’s imagine some alternative press headlines. For example: “Unstable person kills 26 people at Newtown school with an ice pick.” Or “Man with six-shooter murders 20 children and six adults.” Not impossible, perhaps, but not terribly likely, is it?
The NRA and those of like mind will, with righteous indignation in their voices, mount the usual knee-jerk defense by proclaiming their “constitutional right to bear arms.” But the number of murders of the innocent has long passed the point where there should be a national debate on the questions of what arms do you have a “constitutional right” to bear? And to what purpose?
In part, our government was established (if you read other parts of the Constitution than the Second Amendment) to facilitate domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense. This requires that government have the ability to apply force. That’s why we have sheriffs’ offices and state highway patrols and an army and navy. The weaponry available to these organizations is appropriate to their levels of responsibility. That they are so equipped relieves each of us of the need to be similarly equipped; unless, it seems, you’re of like mind with the NRA.
How anyone can, with a straight face, justify private ownership of weapons like assault rifles and the semi-automatic pistols that seem to be the weapons of choice for today’s fashion-conscious mass murderer is beyond my ken. But I’m willing to be educated, so please enlighten me.
If we could get the folks who so staunchly defend this “right” to agree that such weapons would be turned only on others of their persuasion, then the problem would be largely self-correcting. But it made me sick to read a characterization of the murderer’s deceased parent as “a responsible collector.” If she were the only one who paid the price for her “responsible” collecting, then it would be just another news story. But, you see, there’s this matter of 20 children under the age of 10, and six adults, and all those families.
If the NRA and its supporters, vocal and silent, want to sacrifice their children on the altar of their “constitutional rights,” I say, have at it. But they have no constitutional right to sacrifice the lives of others.
In the names of those innocents and the adults who perished with them: enough.
Robert Volland, California