I am admittedly, not the smartest person, but one thing I do know is that insanity or being insane has been defined in many ways; one iteration is “doing nothing and merely hoping that the same thing won’t happen again”….in this case as on Thursday, a 26-year-old male stood outside a classroom and opened fire at students and teachers inside, killing at least nine before he was gunned down by law enforcement.
This time the insane mass murder was at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, a recovering timber town of the type where community college is held out as the path to a brighter future. But unlike after the University of Texas tower shooting, 20 years ago!! in 1966 — the first mass campus shooting in America — the country knew the drill this time: Roughly 45 minutes of respectful mourning, grief, and wild speculation, angry finger-pointing, then nothing happens which could possibly stop this from happening again.
Nobody wants these shootings to happen, and nobody wants to politicize them — or at least be seen blatantly politicizing them. But maybe President Obama is right, that after the mind-numbing number of these mass shootings — at least one every calendar week since 2012 — they are “something we should politicize.”
Like everyone else, we want these murderous rampages — mostly by young white men — to stop. Like every other time, we hear proposals but no sure solutions. America already has so many guns, it would be just as impossible to take them all away — even if there was legislative will to do so — as it would to deport every immigrant living illegally in the U.S.
Now here is where I’m traditionally supposed to start pressing for a particular agenda. But I would like people to be able to legally hunt, shoot skeet and target-practice with non-military-grade long guns, pass down heirloom weaponry to our children, and probably even keep a handgun for the protection of themselves and their families, if they think it would keep them safe.
Like a majority of Americans, I would also like sensible, reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, including universal background checks on the sale of guns and ammunition. Is that really so outrageous? Does the 2nd Amendment really imply that SENSIBLE measures should not be employed when allowing for armed militias? Really, do we really think that?
I would like not to worry whenever I hear sirens that there is an active-shooter situation at my grandchildren’s schools — parents have enough demons to fight without that tragically plausible fear hovering around their ears.
And, frankly, I would like the the National Rifle Association…the Bribers-in-Chief, The Supreme Court of all bribery standards, the Amazon of political bribery… to just go away — even though I’m fully cognizant that it won’t happen.
Let’s be honest, The NRA doesn’t represent gun owners. It represents the $12billion-a-year gun industry. America doesn’t usually give this kind of power to a lobbying group with such extreme views. The NRA doesn’t just get its muscle from its large membership, fat coffers, and impressive legislative knuckle-cracking — it draws its authority from a claim to be the main protector of the Second Amendment.
So let’s be an originalist for a minute. Adopted in 1791, the Second Amendment says this:
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.
It wasn’t until 2008 that the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, interpreted that enigmatic, curiously punctuated sentence to mean individual Americans have a constitutional right to bear individual weapons of mass destruction. It doubled down on the “individual right theory” in 2010, in another 5-4 vote.
Now, far be it for me to argue with the learned constitutional scholars on the Supreme Court — at least the five that overruled 70 years of Supreme Court precedent — but sometimes experts can’t see the forest for the trees. The Framers of the U.S. Constitution created a brilliant system of government that relies on checks and balances, because, after all, the U.S. was founded on rebellion from perceived tyranny. They weren’t communitarian hippies, but they were wary of too much power being held by any one person.
A lot has changed since 1787, of course. Some of the Founding Fathers had slaves but none had a flush toilet. Also, “arms” in the 1880s meant muskets and cannons and blades, mainly, none of which could be described as weapons of mass destruction. Today, pretty much anyone can buy armaments that would have given the Framers nightmares, kill a dozen or more strangers in a few seconds, and terrorize a whole nation.
Would James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and the other gentlemen who wrote the Constitution have wanted to give such tyrannical powers to single lone American nutcases or fanatics like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine) , or Luke Woodham (Pearl High School, Mississippi) or Adam Lanza(Sandy Hook Elementary School)?
I doubt it, but I can’t be sure. What we can be certain of is the dream the Constitutional Framers laid out in their foundational document’s preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. [U.S. Constitution]
Make of that what you will. Given how polarized our national war over guns has become, you probably already have.
But this is just another in a long line of insanities that we as a country seem to ignore :
- It’s ok for Kim Davis in Kentucky to deny marriage licenses to Constitutionally-protected gay couples, but if a Kim Davis denied a gun permit to a known mental patient the NRA would spend however many millions of dollars it would take to get the Republican Congress to have her water boarded.
- Republican politicians will openly support Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay millions of dollars of grazing fees on federal land, which under federal law he owes, but will call starving families “welfare queens”.
- Republicans that voted to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program bill also call themselves Christian while in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, there are literally hundreds of injunctions to welcome strangers, feed orphans and widows, and care for the sick and indigent so that justice — justice,mind you, not charity — can roll down like living waters. The prophets and Jesus consistently champion the marginalized and powerless. Jesus punches the point home by saying that whatever we do to the least among us, we do to him.
- Since the day it was passed, the Republican House of Representatives has tried 48 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act that attempts to protect previously uninsured Americans in favor for the insanely rich health insurance industry which, in this last quarter the nation’s six biggest for-profit health insurers made $3.4 billion in combined profits. The chief executives of the 10 largest insurers took home $228.1 million in total compensation in 2009, more than doubling their average pay from the year before.
And in each of these areas, the Republicans continue to ignore the fact that 70% of the bridges in this country that they, their children, spouses, grandchildren and friends travel on daily are deemed NOT SAFE.
They continue to not just ignore, but dispute the overwhelming science that says we are literally destroying the same planet that they and we share with the rest of the world….and we are the ONLY civilized country in the world that does so, despite the fact that it is our children and grandchildren that will suffer the bulk of the awful consequences!
If the Republican House of Representatives doesn’t represent the largest group of federally-subsidized members-only insane asylum, what in God’s name does?
Harvey A. Gold