Nel's New Day

May 27, 2013

Memorialize Deaths from Gun Violence

Memorial Day is dedicated to those who fell during wars. But nowhere is the day to mourn those who have fallen because, after almost two centuries of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment came to mean that anyone in the country could freely own lethal firearms.

The Second Amendment reads: “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.” For two centuries, courts interpreted the amendment, divided into two ungrammatical clauses, as the right of state militias—not individuals—to own and carry weapons. The “militia clause” trumped the “bear arms.”

The reinterpretation came in the 1980s, thanks to President Ronald Reagan, Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), and the NRA, and the new theory became the law of the land. Not until the 21st century did the Supreme Court reverse the original position that the Second Amendment applied to state militias, and that decision was made by an extremist far-right court.

Even that court gave limits. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia  recognized that the right of the individual to own guns didn’t include all weapons:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose… We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

The court also recognized that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding … laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” According to a footnote,

“We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.”

The court concluded:

“Apart from the usual prohibitions of gun ownership by children, felons, illegal aliens, lunatics, and in sensitive places such as public schools, the propriety of which was not questioned in Heller, some states sensibly require that an applicant for a handgun permit establish his competence in handling firearms. A person who carries a gun in public but is not well trained in the use of firearms is a menace to himself and others.”

Gun obsession pervades the United States:

Adam Kokesh, who plans to lead 1,000 armed protesters into Washington, D. C. on July 4 in violation of the law, compares himself to Mahatma Gandhi who practiced nonviolent resistance to British rule in India. Kokesh has said that his march will be violent if “the government chooses to make it violent.”

Living Social offers experiences that mix alcohol and guns, some of them the type of assault rifle used to kill children in Newtown (CT) to kill children. Many of the deals include transportation on a party bus, and some have a meet-up points at restaurants that offer beer and burgers, giving buyers the chance to drink before the event begins. Living Social has claimed that it doesn’t intentionally promote drinking while shooting and they plan to be careful.

Starbucks might want to consider its willingness to allow concealed weapons. In 2011, a teenage girl in Cheyenne (WY) dropped her purse, causing her gun to discharge and the bullet to miss 43-year-old John Basile by about 12 inches. She had no training, including gun safety, but her mother encouraged her to point the gun at a “bad person.” This last week in St. Petersburg (FL) another woman dropped her purse and shot a customer in the leg. She said she forgot that she had it. Starbucks issued this statement:

“At Tyrone Square Mall, our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and store employees, and we are thankful that the injuries sustained are reported to be non-life threatening.”

Aurora (CO), the same place as the horrific movie theater shooting, was the site of an accidental shooting when an employee at Rangeview High School accidentally shot a student who was getting a ride with him. Missouri passed a law allowing school employees to carry guns as voluntary “protection officers,” but Gov. Jay Nixon has promised to veto the bill.

Showing off her brand-new assault rifle in Federal Heights (CO), 22-year-old Anastasia Adair fell. Her gun went off, the bullet hitting her in the head and killing her. In Florida, a three-year-old boy accidentally killed himself with a 9mm handgun that his uncle owned.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) is raising campaign funds through a gun raffle: “Enter the drawing to win a FREE Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, almost impossible to find in stores and the number one firearm on the gun banners’ wish list!” The winner will be announced on July 4, perhaps in time to carry it in the Washington, D.C. protest

Under the “what were they thinking category,” a Missouri theater hired actors to portray gunmen at the Iron Man 3 premier. People screamed and called the police. Manager Bob Wilkins said he was worried about safety but didn’t see anything wrong with the publicity stunt.

About District of Columbia v. Heller, former Justice John Paul Stevens said:

“While the post-decision commentary by historians and other scholars has reinforced my conviction that the Court’s decision to expand the coverage of the Second Amendment was incorrect, good things about the Court’s opinion merit special comment…. Even as generously construed in Heller, the Second Amendment provides no obstacle to regulations prohibiting the ownership or use of the sorts of automatic weapons used in the tragic multiple killings in Virginia, Colorado, and Arizona in recent years. The failure of Congress to take any action to minimize the risk of similar tragedies in the future cannot be blamed on the Court’s decision in Heller.”

The majority of people in the country support gun controls.

background check polls

They know they are not safer with the current situation of unlimited gun purchases. Countries with fewer guns, Australia for example, have less gun violence. There is a correlation between strong gun laws and lack of gun violence.

correlation gun violence and law

Forty percent of people in the United States want guns to “protect” themselves against the government. Corporations have pushed this idea in order to make money through selling weapons and ammunition. For example, the corporation-controlled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is pushing a bill in Nevada to allow the purchase of machine guns.   http://www.prwatch.org/node/12100

US-POLITICS-GUNS-NRALosing sales to adults, gun manufacturers are push sales to small children.   At the recent NRA conference, 3-year-old Elaih Wagan became the youngest member because of her grandfather’s $1,000 birthday gift for a lifetime membership. U.S. Practical Shooting Association’s magazine Junior Shooters is aimed at kids age eight and up.

cartoon adsGun makers produce child-sized guns and then market them to smaller children with cartoon ads, like this Crickett style that a five-year-old used to kill his two-year-old sister.

 

shooting rangeThe January 2013 NRA publication Insights, a magazine for children, gives directions on building BB gun shooting ranges inside their homes for fun during long winters. It recommends hanging targets. BB guns send 22,000 people to the hospital each year, they create fatalities, and they can be indistinguishable from other guns for young children.

Stricter gun control could have saved many of the 851 children killed last year in the United States.

Extremists want no background checks, no waiting periods, no required liability insurance, no age limits, no training. Voting is a constitutional right, yet conservatives support hundreds of laws for waiting periods, registration, photo IDs, restrictive limits on voting times, etc. Voting has age limits. But extremists read the Second Amendment as unlimited rights to wreak havoc.

There were approximately 4,385 gun deaths between December 14, 2012 (Sandy Hook Elementary School) and April 17, 2013.  I use the term “approximately” because conservatives have prevented the government from keeping any statistics on gun violence. About 300 of these were kids.

End Note: In the week leading up to Memorial Day, TSA agents confiscated a record 65 guns from passengers at security checkpoints, 54 of which were loaded. The previous record was 50 guns (45 loaded) the week before May 10. These 65 guns were in addition to three hand grenades, 12 stun guns, two razor blades (one hidden in a shoe and the other in underwear), two joke-bombs, and other stuff such as “firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things.” I appreciate the TSA!

 

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