Opinion | Susan Knopf: Doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity
We have freedom of speech, but you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. At 18 you have the right to vote, but you can lose that right if you are convicted of a felony. Our constitutional rights are not guaranteed nor unrestricted.
For the record, the Second Amendment to the Constitution 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.” Until 2008, the right to bear arms was understood to be a collective right, the right of a state to have a militia.
According to Cornell University Law School, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the court changed its position of 70 years and then held “the Second Amendment established an individual right for U.S. citizens to possess firearms. The Court carved out Miller as an exception to the general rule that Americans may possess firearms, claiming that law-abiding citizens cannot use sawed-off shotguns for any law-abiding purpose.”
Let’s get this straight. The concept that the Second Amendment conveys individual right of gun ownership was not established until 2008! That right does not pertain to any weapon that does not have any clear “law-abiding purpose.”
Donna Clark, a retired school teacher and local member of Colorado Faith Communities United, told me “Nobody needs an AR-15.” I agree. Colorado Faith Communities United works to end gun violence.
We know from multiple mass shooting incidents, there isn’t any real “law-abiding purpose” for a citizen to possess an AR-15, or any weapon with such a large ammunition magazine, nor destructive explosive ammunition.
As we consider gun legislation and mental health regulation, let’s stick to proven strategies that work.
Think of the Las Vegas shooter. He seemed like a regular guy. He had close family ties. He legally owned guns. With sharpshooter precision he killed 58 people and injured nearly 500.
You know what would have slowed him down and saved lives? An assault weapons ban and a ban on large capacity magazines. He fired more than 1,000 bullets! You can’t do that with a regular hunting rifle. You can only do that with a high-powered weapon, large magazines and high velocity ammunition that have no “law-abiding purpose.”
We had an assault weapons ban. Some think it was successful. Some disagree. There are some disturbing issues with recordkeeping, and thus in comparing incidences.
According to 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelley some variation of an AR-15 was used at the Uvalde elementary school; the Buffalo supermarket; a Texas Walmart in 2019; a Parkland, Florida high school and a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018; a Texas church in 2017; and Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
Pelley says there are 11 million AR-15s in circulation in the U.S., making it the most popular rifle in America. The ammunition travels three times the speed of sound. The ammunition has a tumbling motion when it hits the target, which is regarded as very destructive to people, but not as destructive as hollow point ammunition. A very interesting discussion of the AR-15 is found in The Atlantic.
A 2020 study published by the American Psychological Association revealed two interesting findings: 1. “State laws requiring a permit to purchase a firearm were associated with 60% lower odds of a mass public shooting occurring”. 2. “Large-capacity magazine bans were associated with 38% fewer fatalities and 77% fewer nonfatal injuries when a mass shooting occurred.”
My suggestion: let’s stick to things that work. I’m in favor of mental health supports. Let’s focus on what keeps people safe in schools, churches and grocery stores.
Local law enforcement generally agree some ideas being considered, already enacted in Colorado, provide tools to deter gun violence: the red flag law, safe storage, local regulation of firearms.
Clark says, “Other countries have created a culture that nobody needs these guns,” a sentiment echoed by those who have witnessed the recent carnage at Uvalde. Aren’t children’s lives worth more than guns? You can protest gun violence today with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Sara Grossman, a gun violence survivor. The walk will meet at 5:45 p.m. at Shelter M in Clement Park, 7306 W. Bowles Ave. in Littleton, near the Columbine Memorial. Wear orange.
Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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