Forum: Feb. 22: The Second Amendment No Longer Fits

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Second Amendment No Longer Fits

The Second Amendment was written when there were no assault weapons with high-capacity magazines like the AR-15 capable of killing people in rapid succession. Instead of parroting that owning a gun is our “inalienable right,” let’s stop and think.

Our nation once prohibited alcoholic beverages. That ban was repealed. I suppose it is now my inalienable right to drink alcohol when and where I want. Yet we are thoughtful people. We realize that drinking alcohol and driving a vehicle don’t go together, especially after I indulge my “right” to drink as much as I want. We passed laws to curb drinking and driving and to prevent senseless accidents. No, those laws aren’t magic; horrendous accidents still occur from drunken driving. But at least we try to protect the public from drunken drivers. Why don’t we do the same with gun violence?

We once allowed slavery, and we once kept women from voting. And then we moved on, recognizing the horror of slavery, agreeing that women have the right to vote. We reviewed the issue and made choices consistent with the world we live in today.

We need to do the same with firearms. What normal human being needs a military-style weapon like the AR-15? In the hands of the wrong person, a firearm kills. Has training citizens and schoolchildren to deal with an active shooter become the new normal?

There is no longer a fit between the Second Amendment and the firearms available today. The argument that universal background checks won’t work and criminals will get their hands on a gun doesn’t fly. That thinking suggests we shouldn’t impose any limits because some people won’t obey them. For the sake of our children, for the sake of the right to be in public without fear of a person shooting an assault-type weapon, let’s acknowledge that gun violence is a public health crisis and respond accordingly.

Dena B. Romero


Support Vt. Gun Safety Measures

We need to move beyond “thoughts and prayers.” The latest horrific school shooting in Florida, and the arrest of a man in Fair Haven, Vt., on suspicion of planning a school shooting, has once again created a chorus of, “What should we do?” and “What can we do?” and “There is nothing we can do.”

There are concrete, yet simple, steps Vermont residents can take today to reduce gun violence.

Contact your Vermont legislators and ask them to support these bills currently in the House and Senate: S.6, regarding universal background checks; H.422, to remove weapons from a person cited for domestic assault; and S.221, regarding “extreme risk protection orders.”

Here is the link to the legislative website with the names and towns for all Vermont legislators: https://legislature.vermont.gov/people/search/2018. From that site, it is easy to find and email your legislators.

Email Gov. Phil Scott, who has said he is ready to consider gun safety suggestions, and ask him to support these bills. Go to: http://governor.vermont.gov/contact-us/message.

In 2016, a reporter for Seven Days purchased an AR-15 in a parking lot in South Burlington, for cash, no questions asked. This is the weapon used to murder 17 students and staff members at the Florida high school. The arrest in Fair Haven, coupled with the ease of access to automatic and other weapons in Vermont, highlight issues that legislation can improve. We need to raise our voices, along with our thoughts and prayers.

Christopher and Terri Ashley


Guns Are Killing Machines

The Second Amendment says: “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.”

When read with an elementary-school knowledge of sentence structure, the right to bear arms is only in the context of “A well regulated Militia.” The only well-regulated militias in the United States are the state-level National Guard.

All attempts to place any restrictions on gun ownership are met with the inevitable response that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” To this I say, guns are tools created by people to kill other people. The deterrence factor of guns lies in their capacity to kill people. Guns are killing machines.

We are told that banning assault rifles and military-grade weapons won’t prevent mass shootings. However, I must draw attention to Australia, which banned all automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the aftermath of a 1996 mass shooting that killed 35 people. Since that ban, there has not been a single mass shooting in that country. Is it the ban that is responsible, or are Australians simply better people?

Mark R. Allen


Recalling a Sad Party in Newtown

In 2012, my partner, Denis, and I were driving down Interstate 91 heading toward Cheshire, Conn., to celebrate the fifth birthday of Denis’ grandson. We were in a celebratory mood. At some point I noticed that people in the cars next to us seemed to be crying. I immediately turned on the radio and heard the shocking news about the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Cheshire is about a 30-minute drive from Newtown. As you can imagine, we were immediately concerned about family and friends and all the children living in the neighborhoods and towns near Newtown. When we arrived, no one had a dry eye. The next day, the party went off as planned. Almost 60 parents and children arrived to enjoy a mobile petting zoo. The children, and the adults, needed to hug small animals to ease their pain. I’ll never forget the look in the eyes of the parents. I never want to see that look again.

When will people with the authority to stop this murderous carnage admit that the problem is not deranged people? The problem is that people have broad access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

All societies will always have members with mental health problems. Not all societies have easy access to assault weapons. President Trump: Stand up, get a backbone, stop enabling the murder of America’s schoolchildren and other innocent people. We don’t want to hear that you are “sorry.” We want to hear that you care enough to take action to end this tragic darkness enabled by your political and business colleagues and partners.

Judith Kaufman


Let’s Try Civilizing Society First

It’s both richly ironic and utterly typical that those at that end of the political spectrum that poses a more or less constant threat of mob violence can’t understand why anyone else might think it prudent to own something like an AR-15.

Three of the premises under which these deep thinkers labor are that the rights of others ought to be dependent upon the behavior of goblins and the delicate sensibilities of poltroons; that those who might resist the depredations of said goblins ought to be hobbled in order to conceal, compensate for and justify the unwillingness of others to do so; and that the keys to preventing violent crime are a general assumption of guilt and the imposition of a sufficiently draconian degree of prior restraint on the endeavors of the depraved and the decent alike.

Unfortunately, it’s as useless to explain to them the moral, legal and political implications of their assumptions as it is to try to make them understand basic economics.

Perhaps we, as a society, should spend more time civilizing our children and less time protesting the inevitable and predictable results of having failed to do so.

Anthony Stimson


Put the Blame on Liberalism Itself

A generation or two ago, madness was rare but dealt with more promptly than today. Religion was integral with a culture that supported parents’ efforts to decently raise children. Through self-censorship, the entertainment arts supported the culture. Radio and television were not vehicles for pornography or for the gratuitous violence that is vicariously equivalent to the gladiatorial entertainments of pagan times. Children’s games were age-appropriate and parents had adequate control of what their kids could access.

The 1960s swept much of that away. The state is agnostic, if not yet atheist, and people live as if there is no God. We seem better at inculcating madness than in treating it. Liberals want to blame inanimate objects, but the blame is really on liberalism itself.

Bill Walsh