Guns and nonsense

To the Editor:

Joe Benning based a recent opinion piece ("Guns and Sense"; weekend edition, Feb. 24-25) on a very narrow interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. He seeks to minimize calls for stricter gun legislation based on his opinion that gun owners have a "constitutional right" to do anything they want with firearms.

It is only a relatively recent and myopic interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that gives ordinary citizens the "right to bear arms." The 2nd Amendment originated in colonial times. There was no centralized standing army. Individual states saw the need to protect themselves with state militias. Those times are past. We now have national armed forces, and National Guard units based in every state. Untrained citizen gun owners are not militias. Automatic, semi-automatic and "assault" weapons have no place in civilian life.

The 2nd Amendment was not always interpreted the way the NRA likes it to be. Until the 1970s-1980s, the courts interpreted the 2nd Amendment as giving the "right to bear arms" to state militias, not individual citizens. Then the NRA, funded by gun manufacturers, started exerting political pressure. Politics, not the law, created this arguable interpretation. It seems rational that the arguable "right to bear arms" should be always out-voted by three of the Constitution's reasons for existence: to "establish justice", "insure domestic tranquility", and "promote general Welfare". Modern gun lobbyists step all over those three more basic rights.

Also, Joe's argument is that we need to focus on only certain regulations that would keep guns out of the hands of some people. It is basically a re-phrasing of the worn out NRA slogan: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". Well, the truth is that IT IS PEOPLE PLUS GUNS THAT KILL PEOPLE. We should legislate to address both parts of the equation, the weapon AND the person.

Beware of public officials that suggest only legislation that deals with the "people" part of the equation. That reasoning is self-serving at best, funded by the NRA at worst. Beware of public statements saying "let's stop pointing fingers at one another." Check to see if that statement is coming from the gun lobby (the NRA) because there is one big fat and logical majority finger pointing at the NRA these days, for good reason.

Jon Wittenbecher,



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