It’s past time for this nation to put aside petty, partisan politics and unite to curb the wholesale slaughter of others by assault-style weapons that have no place among civilians in a civilized society.
I say that as a gun owner who grew up in a hunting family, holds a concealed carry permit, and has used guns for recreation, home protection, and professionally over the years. I also owned an AR assault-style weapon for a while but go rid of it after I came to my senses and realized it had no place in our home or lives.
The mass murders in Boulder, Colorado, and too many other such horrid attacks clearly illustrate that the easy availability of assault-style weapons for violent crimes against citizens. The 21-year-old charged with killing 10 in a Boulder grocery store-bought an AR Ruger weapon shortly before the murders.
We also need to strengthen our laws on gun purchase and ownership. Virginia’s concealed carry law is a joke. It does not require anyone to prove the know-how to handle a weapon. At least the short-lived allowance of using a computer to fully apply for such a permit is gone and the law again requires at least minimum on-person training or proof of military service.
Time on a gun range to show a least a little competence with a deadly weapon? Not required.
The only thing that the 21-year-old charged in the Colorado massacre had to do to purchase an AR-base assault-style weapon was reach that age and pass a minimal background check via computer or phone.
It is time to stop believing the gun-nut fantasy that adopting common-sense laws and regulations somehow violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment says citizens cannot be forbidden to own weapons in order to serve in a “well-regulated” militia to help protect the nation during an insurrection. That about it.
The militias described by the Founders who wrote the Constitution were talking about state militias that have evolved into the National Guard, not the ragtag wannabes who little our landscape today as self-declared “citizen militias” that are groups like the Proud Boys that are charged with organizing the riot in our Capitol earlier this year that also killed a police officer.
Floyd County has such a “militia.” Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Branscom calls it nothing more than “a gun club” with self-proclaimed roles that don’t exist. Virginia law allows only “militias” recognized and controlled by the Governor and they are the National Guard units. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring calls the growth of such militias illegal and adds the “Second Amendment Proclamations” passed by localities, including Floyd County, “worthless” words that aren’t worth the value of the pieces of paper that contain them.
“The Founders never intended to create an unregulating individual right to a gun,” writes Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice. “Today, millions believe they did.”
Former Supreme Justice Warren Burger called misuse of the amendment as a justificaion of widespread ownership of guns “a fraud on the American public.”
The Brennan Center for Justice works with the New York University School of Law and Waldman notes:
The Second Amendment consists of just one sentence: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today, scholars debate its bizarre comma placement, trying to make sense of the various clauses, and politicians routinely declare themselves to be its “strong supporters.” But in the grand sweep of American history, this sentence has never been among the most prominent constitutional provisions. In fact, for two centuries it was largely ignored.
Today at the NRA’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, oversized letters on the facade no longer refer to “marksmanship” and “safety.” Instead, the Second Amendment is emblazoned on a wall of the building’s lobby. Visitors might not notice that the text is incomplete. It reads:
“.. the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The first half—the part about the well-regulated militia—has been edited out.
In 1981, Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in 24 years. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch became chair of a key Judiciary Committee panel, where he commissioned a study on “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” In a breathless tone it announced, “What the Subcommittee on the Constitution uncovered was clear—and long lost—proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.” The cryptologist discovering invisible writing on the back of the Declaration of Independence in the Disney movie National Treasure could not have said it better.
“If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns,” the gun fanatics claim. Current laws do nothing to stop letting murderers and wannabe soldiers obtain the firepower they desire to kill at random or in planned, merciless attacks.
AR proponents claim they use such weapons to kill “pests.” You can do that with a 22 rifle or a pistol. You don’t need a rapid-fire assault-style weapon based on a military arm with one goal: To kill enough of an enemy to win a conflict.
Time to take away such deadly toys. They are the weapons of choice in too many mass shootings and have no real role in civilized civilian life.