Readers comments 1.23.13

An open letter to Claremont gun owners

Dear Editor:

Let me agree at the start that there is a constitutional right for individuals to own and possess guns. However, having a right does not give one carte blanche freedom to exercise that right.

If a male is hired to do janitorial work at the high school and thus has as part of his job the right to enter the girls’ locker room to clean it, that does not give him the freedom to enter the locker room whenever he pleases.

We have the right to drive down Indian Hill, but that does not enable us to exercise that right during the Fourth of July parade. A full-fledged right to gun ownership is perfectly compatible with all kinds of regulations designed to provide for public safety.

Gun owners also need to be aware that there is no significant organization or individual holding that guns ought (in NRA language) to be confiscated. It is a fantasy of the NRA that those who advocate gun regulation have a program of forcible elimination of guns in this country. The NRA (and others) promulgate that claim in order to create fear among gun owners that any regulations are a step down the slippery slope.

The only issue of interest is whether we, the people, have the right to regulate gun ownership in the interest of the general welfare and public safety. There is no constitutional provision that precludes such regulation.

It is true that many of those arguing for regulation of guns are not part of gun culture. But, equally, many of those arguing for regulations on tobacco use are not part of smoking culture. It was not that they argue that tobacco ought to be banned—rather, the argument is that, as a matter of the general welfare, we the people have a right to regulate the exercise of smoking and to try to convince smokers that they ought not to be indulging. So, too, with guns: It is open to individuals and to the government to try to convince those in the gun culture that they ought to give up the dangerous habit.

Some percentage of gun owners are members of the NRA. They ought to give up their membership, as the NRA does not represent the sensible gun owner. Rather, the NRA is first of all a subsidiary of gun manufacturers: The gun makers are the ones who are overwhelmingly paying the bills of the organization.

The manufacturers who stand to profit hugely by the unrestricted trade in guns have entered into a symbiotic relationship with the NRA to accomplish just that.

Secondly, because of their lack of common sense, the NRA has also become a chief supporter, not of the individuals who own guns to hunt, for self-protection in one’s own home, for fondling or for sport, but of those groups who amass weapons to be used against their own government (and imaginary foreigner enemies).

If you wish to be aligned with such disreputable groups, the Timothy McVeigh Nut Brigades, then stick with the NRA. Otherwise, it is best to pull your membership and join with other sensible people in supporting gun regulation.

Merrill Ring



The killing fields

Dear Editor:

The recent tragedy at Newton is only the most recent example of how America has become the killing fields. Far too many of our fellow citizens die at the hands of gun violence. It is hard to imagine that 900 people have died just since the death of the 20 children and teachers at Newtown, Connecticut.

The time has come for common-sense gun safety and control. The proposals suggested yesterday by President Obama all make sense, and would contribute to the reduction of gun deaths in this country.

It is interesting to take note of the history of the National Rifle Association and discover that they too, sought restrictions on gun ownership and sought to have rules for gun safety. It is only in the last 40 years that the NRA has become more libertarian in their views.

In poll after poll, the American people have indicated a willingness to have thorough background checks, so that we insure that criminals don’t buy guns, and we should definitely work on having a data base with information so that people who have mental health issues do not have guns.

Guns that should only be used by the military are also weapons that should not be sold to the general public, because their reason for existence is not for hunting but to kill people.

The Second Amendment states that the right to bear arms is for a well-regulated militia. In the Federalists Papers #29, Hamilton speaks about the debate of the day for ratification centering around whether or not to have a standing army or a regulated militia of a state. They did not debate whether every-day citizens have the right to bear arms. Our history has had several examples of regulating the type of guns we can have. You may recall that after the 1930s, machine guns were eliminated from use by citizens.

 Government has the responsibility to see that we are safe. As a parent, I am tired of wiping tears from my eyes as a result of the death of too many innocent children. It is time to try to reduce these occurrences. Children have the right to grow up and have a life and not be deprived of the chance to fulfill their promise.

This has been described as an uphill fight to see the passage of any meaningful bill to provide for more gun safety. But we should not hesitate to fight for this cause, because it is a fight worth fighting for, for our children and for our nation’s future.

Gar Byrum




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