Published April 27, 2009
I heard gunshots last night, and the desperate gun violence of desperate people in Youngstown continues. I can only speculate that someone driven to murder has nothing to lose. And these are desperate times indeed, though this is perhaps not new in the Valley.
The NRA claims "Guns don't kill people; people do." Though, as the sage comedian Eddie Izzard points out, "Guns help." Since Obama's election, the conspiracy-minded have bought guns and ammunition by the case, in unwarranted fear that their right to own a gun will be squashed.
Does anyone really think the Second Amendment could be overturned? We can't even pass health care with 60 votes in the Senate. If you think a Constitutional Amendment rescinding the right to bear arms has a prayer, then you've been praying too much.
Obama is fine with you having guns, and no one is taking them away. It's just not going to happen. But can we agree that assault weapons are a fringe too far?
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jimmy Carter posts a pitch-perfect op-ed in the Times today:
I have used weapons since I was big enough to carry one, and now own two handguns, four shotguns and three rifles, two with scopes. I use them carefully, for hunting game from our family woods and fields, and occasionally for hunting with my family and friends in other places. We cherish the right to own a gun and some of my hunting companions like to collect rare weapons. One of them is a superb craftsman who makes muzzle-loading rifles, one of which I displayed for four years in my private White House office.
But none of us wants to own an assault weapon, because we have no desire to kill policemen or go to a school or workplace to see how many victims we can accumulate before we are finally shot or take our own lives. That’s why the White House and Congress must not give up on trying to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, even if it may be politically difficult.
An overwhelming majority of Americans, including me and my hunting companions, believe in the right to own weapons, but surveys show that they also support modest restraints like background checks, mandatory registration and brief waiting periods before purchase.
A majority of Americans also support banning assault weapons. Many of us who hunt are dismayed by some of the more extreme policies of the National Rifle Association, the most prominent voice in opposition to a ban, and by the timidity of public officials who yield to the group’s unreasonable demands.
Heavily influenced and supported by the firearms industry, N.R.A. leaders have misled many gullible people into believing that our weapons are going to be taken away from us, and that homeowners will be deprived of the right to protect ourselves and our families. The N.R.A. would be justified in its efforts if there was a real threat to our constitutional right to bear arms. But that is not the case.
Let's see some leadership in the White House and in Congress and prevent these weapons from killing our children and our police. It's time to get real with gun policy.