View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Virginia Tech and gun control

I am a community blogger for our local newspaper. Last Friday I was contacted by one of the editors to write a piece for a "face off" (people on opposite sides of an issue) on gun control for the print edition.

She said to limit it to about 300 words.

Phew. Being a verbose sort, that was tough.

I managed to get it down to 327 words.

Here's the piece I submitted. It was changed a bit after the newspaper edited it. -- --

The terrible Virginia Tech tragedy has inspired an outpouring of support, concern, and tributes.

One fitting tribute would be to revisit the issue of gun control.

Consider what happened: A mentally ill-young man legally purchased handguns at a gun shop, ammunition at a store, and ammunition clips on-line.

There are federal laws, a limited federal instant check system, and a hodgepodge of state laws.

The Virginia Tech shooter got through cracks in that flawed system.

Ideally, we would ban all non-work related handguns and certain kinds of rifles, and would put stricter controls on all other firearms.

Realistically, outright banning is not likely. Instead, we should focus on implementing stricter national controls with which states must comply.

The instant check system should expand to include mental health categories and more crimes. We should consider greater limits on the kinds of weapons one can buy, longer waiting periods, required safety courses and licensing, banning of internet and mail purchases of weapons and related items, and annual registration of all firearms.

The gun lobby will oppose such measures. They will cite the myth of the “Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

As courts have declared, however, there is no such right for individuals. The Amendment actually says: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The point of the Amendment was ensuring that we had a “well-regulated Militia” for national defense, not that individuals have an unlimited right to own guns. Individuals needed weapons because the states at that time did not regularly supply them. State militias have been supplanted by National Guard units – and the government supplies their weapons.

Against the Second Amendment myth we have the reality of the Virginia Tech deaths – and the thousands of other deaths each year because of gun violence.

A more rational gun policy would be a fitting memorial for those many victims.


Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

Ideally, we would ban all non-work related handguns and certain kinds of rifles, and would put stricter controls on all other firearms.

(1) Why? (2) By what authority?

8:16 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Why? Public safety.

By What authority? - the Constitutional powers given to the Federal Government (since the states have done a poor job of it).

5:31 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

The Constitution does not give the federal government the power to disarm the populace; quite the contrary. Moreover, even if it did, we would be joining a dubious club that includes Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, and Castro's Cuba, among others.

2:25 PM  

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