To the editor:
In his recent editorial titled “Gun Grabbers Act without Logic,” Thomas Lucente claims any common sense gun control measure is “wholly un-American.” He argues a ban on high-capacity magazines, assault rifles, and automatic weapons like the one that expired in 2004 would be an infringement on the Second Amendment.
Mr. Lucente, we all know none of the rights granted by the Constitution are absolute. Take the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech. The Supreme Court has ruled that doesn’t include incitement to violence, or what we used to call crying fire in a crowded theatre. It doesn’t include slander or libel. It doesn’t include certain kinds of obscenity, even in art, and it doesn’t include disseminating child pornography.
The Second Amendment isn’t unconditional, either. The US Supreme Court has ruled we can be prohibited from carrying “dangerous and unusual weapons” and that legislatures can adopt “reasonable restrictions” on the right to bear arms. It has ruled states and municipalities cannot ban handguns entirely but specified this means the right to keep guns in our own homes for the purpose of self-defense. Businesses and public offices can in most places prevent concealed weapons on their premises.
Many Americans would agree to other “reasonable restrictions” on the Second Amendment. High numbers, as many as 92 percent of us in some polls, agree background checks are necessary. That includes large numbers of gun owners and even rank-and-file members of the NRA, though Wayne LaPierre and the group’s other leaders hotly disagree. Most NRA members even say they would be more likely to vote for candidates who support these checks. High percentages of Americans also want to close the loopholes permitting private, unregulated gun sales. The majority would agree as well to a waiting period for the purchase of a gun, enough time to weed out those with criminal records or a history of mental illness. And nearly seven out of ten Americans would agree to a ban on high-capacity magazines, assault rifles, and automatic weapons, even before they were used by a sniper in Dallas to pick off a dozen law officers this month. Those are the same weapons Lucente claims are guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Remember, the Supreme Court recently agreed with lower courts that ruled assault weapons can be limited, even prohibited.
Maybe our legislators haven’t seen these numbers, or maybe ordinary Americans need to speak louder than the NRA. For whatever reason, they haven’t acted. Not after Columbine or Newtown or San Bernardino or Orlando, or now Dallas. Not while American cities like Chicago, where fifty people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend alone, have turned into war zones.
This is not about red or blue, liberal or conservative, and it’s not about “leftists”—“cowards, tyrants, or partisans incapable of independent thought”—wanting to confiscate every gun in America, as the writer claims. No, it’s about too many gun tragedies large and small to list, too many guns in the hands of the wrong people. It’s about finding commonsense ways to regulate guns and reduce gun violence. Please stand up and speak out today and every day for common sense and constitutional gun laws.
Jan Schmidt, Sara Stewart, Norma Jones Mary Evans and Martha Gibson
Executive Board of the Scotland County Democratic Women