Stand up to the gun lobby

The Sandy Hook Elementary School victims had barely been laid to rest when NRA honchos came out of their bunkers to issue their usual bogus “talking points,” expressing the view that everything should be blamed for the Dec. 14 tragedy but high-powered firearms. Taking his cue from these NRA “fatwahs,” the Pennsboro writer of a Jan. 6 letter to The News and Sentinel says “guns are not the problem.”

To prove his “point,” he provides alleged statements from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to imply these founders favored the idea of a “fully-armed nation.” They didn’t! In 1776, both of these men promoted “a well-regulated militia” to fight British oppression. However, once the nation was established, they considered the notion of “armed insurrection” to be “sedition!”

President Washington personally led an army into western Pennsylvania to put down gun-toting, anti-tax rebels during the 1791 “Whiskey Rebellion.” In 1807, President Jefferson ordered the confiscation of a cache of firearms stockpiled by Aaron Burr supporters at a place called Blennerhassett Island. These examples from history might give latter-day promoters of “Second-Amendment solutions” to (in their view) “Obama’s out-of-control government” something to ponder . “Sedition” is still “sedition!”

Mental-health issues and violent video games are certainly part of the equation, but the inescapable fact is that these increasing attacks by “lone wolf” psychos would be less frequent if laws were passed (or existing laws merely enforced) requiring universal background checks (i.e. closing the “gun-show loophole”) and/or restricting easy-access to assault-weapons and high-capacity magazines and clips. Yes, Americans have the “right to bear arms” for hunting, sports, or self-protection, but other Americans also have a right to feel safe in public places. All “rights” come with responsibilities. The Newtown shooter’s mother legally bought the weapons her son used to kill her and 26 others. Should “law-abiding” gunowners be allowed to keep deadly firearms within reach of family members who are known to be mentally ill?

A month has passed since the tragedy, and many (i.e. W.Va. Sen. Joe Manchin) are suggesting that really little can be done to stem the tide of unregulated weapons. I disagree. If we forget what happened at Sandy Hook, we are dismissing these innocent victims and their grieving families to ensure continued profits for the makers of what are, in essence, not “harmless toys for aging boys,” but deadly weapons-of-mass-destruction.

Fred O’Neill