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Nineteen children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas are now dead. I cannot imagine the depth of grief those parents and families are feeling.  

If, however, anger is part of what they are feeling I can identify with that. I am angry, too, angry at a country that allows a minority of its political leaders to prevent the passage of sensible gun ownership laws because they don’t possess the common sense or common decency to do so.

The inaction of politicians to do what they can to begin changing the national environment is justified by three persistent, albeit tired and worn-out, arguments.

The first is that such acts as what happened in Texas and Buffalo and across the nation are done by individuals who are either criminals or mentally unbalanced, neither of which gun ownership laws will deter.

The fact is, Salvador Ramos who killed those children and their teachers legally bought two AR-15 rifles because the law allowed him to. A more responsible law would have prevented him from doing so.

In addition, there is a reason the United States is the most violent Western nation in the world, that none of our allies have the level of gun violence, murder rates, and mass shootings we have. They have gun ownership laws. We don’t. They have all the social, political, mental, and personal problems we do.

What they don’t have is “guns on demand” like we do.

A second argument opponents of gun ownership laws make is that such laws will violent Second Amendment rights. In reality that is a political argument, not a legal one.

Let’s begin with the fact that the Second Amendment is only one sentence: “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.”

That’s it.

What is more, we have a reasonable degree of assurance that we know what the founders meant when they wrote it. They were protecting the right of individual states to maintain a military force, a militia. Today’s equivalent would be the state police and in some states a State Defense Force.

The right of states to maintain militias already existed under the the Articles of Confederation that was the nation’s first Constitution. That right had nothing to do with individual ownership of guns (or muskets) because virtually every American already had them.

The question was solely about state militias that were beset with numerous problems, from insubordination to lawlessness to drunkenness to states with large militias threatening smaller ones. Under the Articles the federal government had no power to tax and, thus, no money to maintain an army. That left the resolution of conflicts to the States.  

The new Constitution with which the founders wanted to replace the Articles of Confederation would change that because the federal government would have the power to tax and, thus, could establish an army. To win ratification, though, they had to ensure the right of states to keep their militias. Thus, the founders put in the Second Amendment.

Was it intended to protect individual ownership of guns? We don’t know. Was it intended to prevent any laws that limited individual ownership? We don’t know. Did the founders believe maintaining a state militia depended on individual gun ownership when the state could provide weapons to militia members? We don’t know.

The point is, an argument can be made for answering Yes or No to these questions, with either one being a matter of interpretation. So when someone says we cannot do anything to violate Second Amendment rights, the response should be, according to whom?

Moreover, engaging in interpretation in an attempt to apply a statement written in 1787 to the realities of 2022 should be a given. In truth, original intent means nothing when it comes to applying the Second Amendment. Those who advocate for it end up arguing against themselves because they are doing precisely what they say should not be done. They are applying their interpretation of what the founders meant because of the changed circumstances.

That is what must be done. The idea that Americans living in the 21st century should not interpret the Constitution in the context of the immense body of scientific knowledge accessible to human beings today is both absurd and irresponsible.

The only responsible position our nation can take in regard to gun ownership is to enact laws that balance ownership and safety.

The third argument used against common sense gun ownership laws is that once the government starts restricting gun ownership of any kind, it will eventually want to take away all guns.

What those making this argument don’t say is that there has never been a single piece of legislation introduced that would ban individual gun ownership at the federal or state level. Not one.

It’s nothing more than a scare tactic very much like the phony Republican claims about voter fraud.

But the fact that arguments against gun ownership laws make no sense and in large part are disingenuous won’t change the position Republican lawmakers in Washington are already staking out.

The day after the shooting in Texas Rep Senator Thom Tillis of NC had this to say:

“It’s horrible. And you know what we need to avoid is the reflexive reaction we have to say this could all be solved by not having guns in anyone’s hands. We can always talk about reasonable measures, but we also have to talk about better situational awareness.”

What he meant was, let’s talk about “reasonable measures” as long as we don’t restrict gun ownership. He said as much when he was asked if there was a component of guns that could be part of the solution for the problem of mass shootings in the country. His answer was “no.”

He’s all for taking non-gun regulations steps which means he’s in favor of the status-quo.

It is not being unfair or overly critical of people like Tillis to say they refuse to believe there is any connection between unrestrictive gun ownership and the killing of school children.

Texas Governor Greg Abbot offered thoughts and prayer for the those killed Wednesday and their families while having recently signed into law a bill that allows anybody in Texas to carry a concealed weapon without having a permit. Not only that, but in 2015 he actually employed Texans to buy more when he found out California had higher gun sales than Texas.  

It’s time for all of us to get real. There is one thing and one thing only that accounts for the failure of any and all politicians not passing sensible gun ownership laws – MONEY

The debate is not about the Second Amendment. It is about gun and ammunition manufacturers giving the NRA millions of dollars of which they then give a portion to politicians who support their profit making at the expense of our children.

It’s just that simple, sinister, and sick. So why do Republican voters keep voting for the people who refuse to do anything to protect their own children?

What they say is that they disagree with them on gun laws but agree with them on other issues. Here is the question they need to answer: “What law, policy, or political position is more important, or even as important, as doing whatever it takes to protect our children from gun violence?”

The answer is not complicated. In fact, none of it is. Right and reasonable actions that can start our nation moving in a different direction on this issue are already known. Which is why the words of theologian Miroslav Volk who teaches at Yale University should stir inside all of us:

“There is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem you are unwilling to solve.”

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