By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com
It’s a year since the tragedy at Uvalde, emblematic of all that is wrong with the gun violence epidemic. It’s 10 years since Sandy Hook, five years since Parkland, a month since (fill in blank), a week since (fill in), a day since (fill in) – too, too many to keep track or count.
There have been more mass shootings than days so far in 2023; 120 people are killed each day. Guns are now the #1 killer of children. Process that a moment.There are more than 400 million guns in circulation now – more than there are people. The NRA insists only law-abiding people get guns, but clearly that is not true – guns are not only in the hands of criminals, gangs but someone who wakes up and just snaps that day, or who commits their first crime. It is the easy access to guns that is responsible for the epidemic of gun violence that is uniquely American, and only getting easier in places like Florida and Texas.For shame. Seven countries have now issued travel advisories against coming to the United States because of gun violence.
June 2 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and the beginning of Wear Orange Weekend to honor those killed and wounded by gun violence. It hardly seems to matter, even as more and more and more people now wear this badge because of their own loss. It used to be “just” the equivalent of a 9/11 each month, now it is a 9/11 every three weeks. 45,000 people killed by guns each year – 20 times the number of Americans killed in 20 years of war in Afghanistan - and tens of thousands more injured and likely living with long term or permanent pain, trauma, suffering, disability, costing society $557 billion each year. On Memorial Day, we remember the 1 million Americans killed in all of America’s wars since the Revolution, well, 1 million Americans have been killed by gun violence in just the past 25 years.
As Fred Gutenberg, who would have celebrated his daughter, Jaime’s, 20th birthday had she not been murdered in her Parkland, Florida high school, noted,20 years ago just before the assault-weapons ban was allowed to expire, In 2003 there were 200 million guns in circulation, 20 years later, more than 400 million guns; in 2003, 2% of gun sales were AR-15 style, in 2023, 25%. In 2003,there were 30,136 gun deaths; in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, 48,830 died of gun-related injuries, a record, according to the Pew Research Center.
I am so, so sick of the gun nuts reacting to any proposals for sensible gun regulation – banning weapons of war and high-capacity ammo from civilian use,requiring licensing, training, registration every five years; universal background checks, Red Flag laws to keep out of hands of would be murderers,insurance and Victims funds, safe storage laws and liability, end immunity for gun manufacturers and retailers, no online or straw purchases and for heavens sake SMART GUNS that can only be used by the person who has been checked,trained, registered and licensed. They robotically claim “2nd Amendment! 2nd Amendment! - conveniently leaving out the part,“WELL-REGULATED MILITIA” as well as the part about securing the safety of the state (as opposed to engaging in a violent overthrow).
Republican presidential wannabe Ron Desantis, kissing up to the NRA gunnuts,declared that guns [not votes] are the foundation that all other rights rest on. From a state known for Trayvon Martin, the Parkland school massacre, the Pulse Nightclub Massacre, where he quietly signed PERMITLESS CARRY just two days after the massacre at a Nashville Christian school, followed immediately by two in Louisville, another in Alabama, another in Allen TX, and a spate of shootings of young people who happened to ring the wrong doorbell,turn up the wrong driveway, approach the wrong car and go after a basketball that rolled onto a neighbor’s lawn. That’s in a state where people think they have the right to kill at will, because of the Stand Your Ground shield, that oddly, only seems to apply to white men who murder.
To suggest that guns protect rights is certainly a MAGA-pleasing line, but just the opposite is true: there is no free speech, free assembly,free religion, free and fair elections if you are intimidated, harassed,extorted by people carrying guns. Election workers are quitting; people are leaving elected office and those who might have run for office – from school board to health department to Congress - think twice. Just like abortion bans have nothing to do with ”protecting life” but rather are about controlling women, “constitutional carry” is not about self-defense but about offense.(Otherwise, the so-called “pro-lifers” would also be the biggest supporters of gun control.)
Might Makes Right has replaced the Rule of Law, which is the foundation of democracy.
I am sick to death of the claim there can be no sensible gun safety regulation because the 2nd Amendment “guarantees” the right to “bear arms” “shall not be infringed.” It does no such thing.
You know what isn’t in the Constitution? “Gun”. Certainly not “AR-15.” The word “arms” (not “guns” or even “firearms”) is used just once, in the 2nd amendment, at a time when “arms” meant swords, knives, bow-and-arrow, and single-ball musket (the rapid-fire gun or the bullet hadn’t been invented yet –take that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who wants the standard of“what existed in 1791” to rule).
In contrast, the word “vote” or “voting” is mentioned 15 times, but the guns-everywhere, women’s-rights-nowhere gang have no problem suppressing voting and subverting elections.
Can’t restrict “arms”? What about hand grenades? Machine guns (not that different from today’s assault rifles, which were in fact regulated in the 1920s)? Nuclear bomb – the small, suitcase-sized ones? Mines? These are all“arms” So are these allowed “by right” under the 2nd Amendment?
And there is no constitutional “right” to manufacture or sell guns, nor constitutional prohibition against product liability for the gun manufacturing industry, the only product in America that so far is shielded from product safety liability, or requiring insurance, or paying tax on the purchase of guns, ammunition, and paraphernalia. In fact, why don’t they ban certain kinds of ammo and equipment? And why don’t they impose some of those same limits on a constitutional right as they did on a woman’s right to access abortion, that is, in the 50 years before Dobbs?
(At this point, I always get the line that the Constitution doesn’t explicitly mention “woman” or “bodily autonomy” or “abortion”, women have no right to reproductive freedom. Actually, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted,“freedom” isn’t in the Constitution, either. Nor is “God”. Nor is“corporation.” Nor is “cash is speech”. Nor is the Supreme Court’s assumed power of “judicial review”.)
But here’s the thing: up until 2008, the Supreme Court had always said localities could impose gun control and that the 2nd amendment referred to self-defense IN THE HOME, not out in public. And throughout American history, including the so-called “Wild West,” guns were always restricted.
But the greater point is that no “right” is absolute:
Free speech? What about Truth in Advertising, fraud. And you can’t maliciously slander someone with falsehoods, as Donald J. Trump has finally,finally learned. And these religious fanatic gunnuts have no qualms about banning books, prosecuting teachers and censoring pediatricians from asking parents if they store guns securely.
Free press doesn’t mean you can maliciously, knowingly, purposefully spew harmful falsehoods (libel) as Fox has discovered.
Religious freedom doesn’t mean you can conduct human sacrifice, or (until now) discriminate against people of different races, religions, backgrounds by claiming “religious conscience”.
4th amendment protects against search and seizure (privacy) without due process (cause). But what happened after 9/11? They immediately enacted the cynically named Patriot Act, giving government the power to search your library book records without notifying, search phones, search your body every time you get on an airplane. And yet, people on the No Fly list can still purchase guns. And now girls and women are monitored, their cell phones tracked, their health information tracked, their medical records exposed and shared willy nilly so vigilantes can sue them or authorities charge them with violations of abortion bans or to expose their gender identity.
Also, the 15th and 19th say the right to vote“shall not be denied or abridged”. That sounds as forceful as right to bear arms “shall not be infringed” and yet, voting rights are being aggressively suppressed.
Actually, the founding documents say the mission of government is to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Protecting the purveyors of death, destruction and terror is not.
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