Memorial Day, along with Veterans Day, are the days on which we honor the men and women in uniform who have given their lives to defend our nation. I have always had respect for those who wear the uniform. And I wonder if I would have been able to show their courage and dedication had I been called to do so.
I mean no disrespect, and I certainly hope our soldiers and veterans will not think ill of me, but I find myself moved to commandeer their day to mark another memorial and to write, for what seems the umpteenth time, about a mass killing in America. The twenty-one souls whose faces appear at the top of this columns died at the hands of an eighteen-year-old killer at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
They did not sacrifice their lives out of courage and dedication. They lost their lives due to the lack of courage and dedication on the part of our leaders to stop the reign of terror caused by the easy availability of weapons of mass destruction in our nation. And they lost their lives due to the failure of We the People, every single one of us, to insist our elected leaders enact reasonable gun control legislation or to vote them out of office if they will not.
Greg Abbot, Governor of Texas, and Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, are out on the front lines working to keep books they consider dangerous out of their schools. But guns? Neither is willing to protect the children. And it’s not that they can’t do it. They just don’t give a damn.
Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, New York, Laguna Woods, California, Houston, Texas, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Biloxi, Mississippi, Brooklyn, New York, Sacramento, California, Dumas, Arkansas, Milwaukee again, and that’s just this year! There’s a whole registry of these atrocities.
Guns killed more young people than cars for the first time in 2020. That analysis was computed by the Washington Post, which reported the change was caused by a 30 percent increase in gun deaths for people nineteen and younger in 2020. Gun deaths continued to outpace cars for that age group in 2021, The Post found, as the rate of gun killings increased an additional 8 percent.
The New York Times surveyed all 50 Republican members of the Senate to ask is they would support a pair of House-passed measures to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. The Times reported four are open or undecided, fourteen are opposed or leaning no, thirty-two declined to answer or dodged the question.
The Republican party is the pro-gun party, the pro-killer party. They are certainly NOT the pro-life party. They oppose a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body, but they have no concern for babies after they are born. No pediatric care, no day care, and no protection from mad killers wielding weapons of mass destruction and invading local schools.
The moronic Texas Senator Ted Cruz blames the school for not locking its doors. Florida’s nut case Senator Marco Rubio says there is nothing you can do about this problem. Texas Governor Abbott threw Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat who is running against him this year, out of a news conference when challenged about the shootings. Cruz, Abbott, and gun advocate Donnie Trump blamed the school for not being “hardened” and, of, course, he blamed Joe Biden. Trump and Cruz attended a national convention of the National Rifle Association in Houston. Abbott was afraid of the optics and at the last minute decided to skip the personal appearance. He sent in his pro-gun screed as a video recording. Unsurprisingly, when Trump was speaking, guns were prohibited.
I visited Houston a few years back, trying to land a teaching job at the University of Houston. I liked the school, the city, and the people I met. I was, however, a Chicago native living in New York, brought up short by seeing a sign at the entrance of a nice upscale restaurant, which had great barbeque. The sign politely asked patrons to check their weapons at the door. I learned Texans are allowed to carry a gun without background checks, licenses, or training. In 2015, Abbott tweeted that he was “embarrassed” to learn that his state was only number two in the nation for new gun purchases and urged his constituents to “pick up the pace.” Naturally, he tagged the NRA in the tweet. Texas is the home of the gun culture of America. There is no sign Texans will change their minds in reaction to this year’s tragic killings.
Other countries get it. Why don’t we?
Any day now, the right-wing Republican majority on the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in a New York gun rights case that expands the protections individual gun owners have when they carry a gun outside their home by striking down a century old state hand-gun licensing requirement.
The best remedy for this crisis, and it is that, is to repeal the Second Amendment. It is a relic unsuitable for the 21st century, as Justice John Paul Stevens said it after 17 died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The Court has for the last fifty years viewed the second amendment as if the opening phrase was just a smear of extra ink that could be ignored. In what Warren Burger, former Chief Justice of the United States, and a Republican, called “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen…”, the Court has chosen to ignore the opening words of the amendment, which reads in total, “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.”
The wording is clear. It guarantees the right of the “free state” to maintain a “well-regulated militia” separate from any army of the federal government. The state sets the regulations. There is nothing here guaranteeing individuals the right to guns not permitted by the state in which they live. At least that’s what it was understood to mean until about fifty years ago, when the NRA began to lobby for individual gun rights. And began making massive campaign donations to politicians running for office.
If, as expected, the Court strikes down New York’s one hundred-year-old law setting strict standards for the issuance of a permit to carry a concealed weapon, I wonder if it will still forbid the carrying of concealed weapons into its own courtroom during oral argument. Want to guess?