Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Weinstein Moment in School Shootings

Every major societal change has its defining moment, that time when dithering is no longer possible and action unstoppable.  

Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a Dream, the self-immolation of Tunisian shopkeeper Mohamed Bouazizi that began the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement that rose out of the Harvey Weinstein revelations and now, finally, the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are all such defining moments.

They have in common that their injustices failed to be addressed over the long term, were unsustainable in their specific areas of society and were the result of decades, sometimes centuries, of largely political inaction. 

We find ourselves at just such a moment. The adult world has failed our kids and the kids are taking action into their own hands. God love them, they are wiser than the dithering grownups helpless to come to their defense and are taking matters into their own hands. David Hogg is their amazingly powerful student-speaker at the moment.

So let’s have a discussion about that misconstrued Second Amendment issue that has America not only divided, but frozen in its tracks.

First of all, I absolutely support the American right to bear arms. But we ought to take into account the times during which that amendment was added to the Constitution, which is its defining document. Forget the fact that it guaranteed those rights in a time when ‘arms’ were muzzle-loading and capable of firing (at most) a couple of rounds per minute. Forget the fact that it specified a ‘well-regulated militia’ as well. 

Those are a couple of pretty important things to forget, but listen-up you gun toters, we are not coming to take away your weapons. So, relax a bit and join the conversation.

What we (and these kids) are coming to take away are your military-style fast-firing AR-15 and Glock 15-shot weaponry. You don’t need them to protect your person, your home or your fear of government. Having access to them hasn’t prevented a single mass-shooting.

Just as you are disallowed from owning a hand-grenade, rocket-launcher or missile-to-air weapon, this simply makes sense in maintaining safe communities. The Second Amendment does not allow you to purchase a Toyota pickup with a machine-gun bolted to the truck-bed. 

Bear in mind that the Second Amendment is just that; an amendment to our Constitution. But the Declaration of Independence, our founding document guarantees all Americans the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those inalienable rights have been taken from our kids in a mindless fear of the very government that guarantees them.

In just the past 18 years, there have been more than 188 shootings (#shooting) at schools and universities, killing more than 200 students injuring at least 200 more. Those lives are gone, those liberties erased, the pursuit of their happiness taken away forever. Every one of our kids has to wonder which school is next, which friend will die and will it be me. 

Certainly the odds are against that, yet their parents still buy lottery-tickets.

Additional barriers for gun ownership to the mentally ill or emotionally unstable simply will not do it. The FBI knew about Nikolas Cruz, but dropped the ball. No one can accurately predict a mass-killer, so we ought just remove the mass-killing weaponry.

A national law is needed, stating that ownership of weapons capable of extended clips and rapid fire are illegal. All owners of such weapons must turn them in for reimbursement or take the risk of arrest, which would include a mandatory fine and imprisonment for a statutory period.

Enacting such a law is simply too important to be left up to the states.