On February 22, 2018, Bill Rea, the Editor of the Caledon Citizen, published an opinion commentary on bullying, gun violence and gun control, titled “No Easy Answers” in which he asked a final question: “Who’s got a solution?”
Well, Bill, I have a really easy solution. And it comes straight from the student survivors of the Parkland shootings who witnessed the murders of seventeen of their classmates and teachers. Ban assault weapons and bump fire stock accessories, eliminate multi round magazines, improve and enforce background checks, and raise the age of purchase for any firearm to 21. For starters. Immediately. The students may not have had a solution to teenage angst and anger, but they sure had a solution to gun violence. Control access to the guns!
This will not eliminate bullying and psychopathic behaviour. That takes a societal change in parenting and mental health support. The underlying causes of what drives a person to commit acts of violence against others are rooted in poverty, isolation, depression, and anger that “the system” is rigged, the poor get poorer, my firing or expulsion is someone else’s fault, and I’m not gonna take it anymore! As author Issac Asimov so eloquently noted, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
The shootings took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. Seventeen were killed and seventeen wounded by bullets fired by a 19-year-old former student using an AR-15 style assault rifle that he had purchased the previous February. Over the past year, he had legally purchased ten rifles including the one he used to murder seventeen of his former classmates and teachers.
In the outpouring of national grief and calls for gun control that followed the murders, there arose a clarion call from The National Rifle Association (NRA) defending the right of Americans “to bear arms” as protected by the 2nd Amendment of their Constitution.
So, a little history lesson is in order. First, the Second Amendment was an amendment and needs to be amended for the 21st century. When it was written in 1791, the most advanced rifle of the time was the Kentucky long rifle. I say, let every American over 21 carry one of those – no questions asked. When they run out of their two musket balls they can beat each other.
Secondly, the amendment was also designed to give the American people a protective militia until such time as the colonies had a standing army. Last time I checked, the U.S. had formed a regular Army after they lost the War of 1812 to Tecumseh and the British. And the official U.S. Army we know today was formed in 1917 by the United States War Department. Today the U.S.A. has a National Guard and a standing military and no reason for every NRA loving American to carry an assault rifle. So, the need for the Second Amendment has come and gone – get rid of it. There’s a solution.
Thirdly, ban the NRA from any political lobbying and send Wayne LaPierre to Tai Chi classes.
On Friday, March 9, 2018, Rick Scott, the Governor of the State of Florida, signed into law a bill raising the purchase age for firearms from 18 to 21. Other provisions of the law include banning the sale or possession of bump fire stocks, giving law enforcement greater power to seize weapons and ammunition from those deemed mentally unfit, and additional funding for either training and arming select school teachers, or using those funds to hire more armed school resource officers.
The NRA, of course, promptly sued the State of Florida, citing the 2nd (right to bear arms) and 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (the 14th granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves who had been emancipated after the American Civil War – the NRA contends their “right to own property” covers assault weapons).
Some in Canada tried to characterize this as an Urban/Rural issue regarding gun ownership. Not so. No hunter or farmer in his or her right mind needs an automatic multi-round magazine military assault weapon to bring home the meat or chase away the varmits. You use weapons like this to kill people. Just be grateful, Bill, that the boy you bullied in school didn’t carry an AR-15.
That is entirely what this discussion is about and the solution is easy, Bill.
Skid Crease, Caledon
*Image of a Kentucky Long Rifle from medievalcollectables.com