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Well Regulated

Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. ~ John F. Kennedy

Like most reasonable people, I’m disgusted with what happened in Newtown Connecticut last Friday. Sadness and disbelief cast a pall over much of the office that afternoon. On Facebook and other social media, I started to see prayer chains, calls for peace and understanding. Nothing bad or offensive, but then I noticed a few outlandish items slowly start to creep in that bothered me. But for clarity and space, I’m only going to focus on one for this week’s column. 

 “If the staff had been armed this could have been prevented.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Arming teachers. In elementary school. Am I the only person who hears this and thinks, “That person must have been dropped on their head as a small child?” If you think that arming teachers is an answer to this issue, I’m not even sure you should be a part of the conversation that needs to happen.

Guns have never really been an "issue" of mine. I do not own any guns but neither do I live in fear of gun violence but enough is enough. We've had SEVEN mass shootings this year. SEVEN! I'm not in favor of repealing the Second Amendment but I am in favor of well-regulating it with severe penalties (including prison) and stiff fines if your legally obtained firearm is used in the commission of a crime where fatalities result. EVEN if the gun is stolen from you. If you are not responsible enough that you cannot adequately store your weapons, you should pay the price with criminal and civil liability.

I’m also in favor of registering all guns and closing the loop holes in the private gun market. Including mandatory classes and insurance coverage. Yes, I know that criminals will still use guns in the commission of crimes and they will be vigorously prosecuted like always. However, criminals are not going on mass shooting sprees. Seventy-five percent of all the guns used in the more than 60 mass shootings over the past 30 years were obtained legally. (Source: Mother Jones)

John Oliver summed it up best when he said, “One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our gun regulation.”

Not a single person died on that plane yet it spawned an over-reaction that still boggles my mind but we refuse to take action to prevent tragedies that involve firearms. Tim McVeigh blew up a building with fertilizer. Guess what? We now regulate and track the sale of fertilizer. For the love of Mike, I can't even buy the good Sudafed without having to show my license.

This right here:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, INSURE DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY, provide for the common defense, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Trumps this:

"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."

It doesn’t get more general welfarey than being allowed to not die in your classroom or your place of worship. Save the tired arguments about forks and pencils. They’re stupid. No one has killed a group of people by eating them to death nor has anyone died in a mass misspelling. I’m also pretty confident that no one has stabbed to death a room full of people with either a fork or a writing tool.

So this doesn’t get twisted into something it’s not, I AM NOT CALLING FOR A REPEAL on the Second Amendment. I’m calling for well-regulating it and if you can’t handle some regulation perhaps you’re not mature enough to be a gun owner.

Barbara Mulvey-Welsh is a mother, writer and blogger raising kids and a husband in Plymouth. Check out her blog at "Did I Say That Out Loud?"  Use caution when reading around the family, there is some strong language.

BHirsh December 19, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Jack, it's obvious that most of these well-intentioned people really haven't a clue about precedent and its effect on the government's ability to act. It is also obvious that they truly don't understand the intractibility of natural rights.
David Kent December 19, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Each and every law and every regulation in each and every country in the world represents a restriction of someone’s freedom. Each defines something that cannot be done or puts some limit on doing something. So, when it comes to deciding upon a new law or regulation, such as beefing up gun regulations, a cost/benefit analysis must be performed: Benefit: The magnitude of the benefit of the law or regulation to society Cost: The magnitude of the loss of personal freedom There should be no corner of society where a group can operate as it wishes with wanton disregard for the larger good of society. But that is exactly what gun owners demand when they oppose ANY new gun regulations out of hand. It is not necessary, they argue, to consider the needs of society when considering gun laws. Rather, by definition, ANY increase in gun regulation causes an unacceptable loss of gun owner personal freedom. So, by definition, ANY new regulation of firearms is OUT! Gun owners should not be allowed to be perhaps the ONLY segment of our population with enough muscle to elbow out consideration of the good of society. New regulations that would help keep military style weapons out of the hands of mentally disturbed mass murders would benefit society by making those people less lethal. And the cost to personal freedom? Gun owners can’t purchase military weapons. Not much of a comparison is it?
David Kent December 19, 2012 at 11:18 PM
BHirsh, Perhaps Barbara’s use of the two components of the constitution isn’t a good way to argue for gun regulation. I’ve got a better one for you: The landmark 2008 Supreme Court case that found, once and for all, that the possession of firearms cannot be outlawed – District of Columbia vs. Heller. This case and the MacDonald case that extended its decisions to the States, basically read the “militia clause” of the 2nd Amendment out of the Constitution, leaving a broad right to possess firearms. But the judges took great pains to emphasize that it iSVERY LEGAL to regulate the possession of firearms. In particular, this clause from the decisions is important in this discussion: “Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons”. So, the most important and very recent (2008) constitutional source on this says that we ARE allowed to prohibit “dangerous and unusual weapons”. Now reasonable people can disagree on the definition of “dangerous”, but to me an AR-15 with large ammo clips qualifies as “dangerous”. The sale of military style weapons CAN be prohibited.
Henry Bowman December 19, 2012 at 11:23 PM
"New regulations that would help keep military style weapons out of the hands of mentally disturbed mass murders would benefit society by making those people less lethal." If the mentally disturbed are too dangerous to be trusted with a weapon, then they should be incarcerated. The benifit to society is to remove the violent from society, not restrict a right further
David Kent December 19, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Sorry Henry, you can't make me fall for that one: I can hold more than one concept in my mind at once. Concept 1: As you say, society should do a better job of identifying, treating and if necessary incarcerating the mentally disturbed people who become mass murders. Concept 2: Since Concept 1 will never be implemented perfectly, we should also outlaw the sale of military-style weapons that enable disturbed individuals to kill people rapidly. Both are correct. Both should be done. But your emphasis of the former does not negate the correctness of the latter
BHirsh December 20, 2012 at 12:14 AM
David Kent, you wrote: "The sale of military style weapons CAN be prohibited." No, David, they can't. The Miller test specifically protects arms in common use (which they are) that bear some reasonable relationship to the preservation . . . of a well-regulated militia (which they also do). It is black-letter.
BHirsh December 20, 2012 at 12:17 AM
David Kent, you wrote: "Concept 2: Since Concept 1 will never be implemented perfectly, we should also outlaw the sale of military-style weapons that enable disturbed individuals to kill people rapidly." It can't and won't happen, for a number of reasons. The first is that there aren't the votes in the House to pass one. The second is that it runs afoul of constitutional protections set in precedent. David, the intent of the amendment is to place the people on a par with government troops viz small arms. Clearly, the much-demonized-because-they're-scary-looking-but-actually-quite-common "assault weapons" (sic) fit the purpose EXACTLY. You can't get there from here.
BHirsh December 20, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Yes, this. Exactly.
Patrick December 20, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Henry, Did this study take into account how many of those people had been threatened by black kids with skittles?
Patrick December 20, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Was never a cop in New England, but that's not important. What's important is that there is apparently some kind of big game in the US I'm not aware of. Tell me, Henry, what are you hunting that can't be brought down with a .30-06 or 12 gauge? Do we have elephants here?
Patrick December 20, 2012 at 12:26 AM
BHirsh, Not so! The second amendment, in it's entirety, states: 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 the whole thing. I thought I had missed something, but that's the entire thing. Tank please.
Patrick December 20, 2012 at 12:38 AM
AND you can't drive them on the highway, which infringes on my right to squish Priuses..Priusi?
David Kent December 20, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Oh come on BHirsh, you know darn well that military style weapons are not "in common use". Well, what we're debating here is that they are TOO COMMON but the weapons that are in common use are hand guns and guns used for hunting. You also avoided the term "dangerous" in the SCOTUS decision. Now, reasonable people can disagree on what's "dangerous" but I personally believe that military style guns with high capacity ammo clips are very dangerous.
David Kent December 20, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I"m afraid, BHirsh that you'll have to explain "it runs afoul of constitutional protections set in precedent". And to do that usefully, you'll have to be specific. I have been specific by quoting the Heller Decision that expressly states that the ownership of guns CAN be regulated. As to interpretation of "the amendment": I don't need to rely upon your interpretation because the Heller and MacDonald SCOTUS decisions have done that that for us very recently. And they say that gun ownership can't be banned but it CAN be regulated, including prohibiting types of weapons. I'm sorry BHirsh, it's all in Heller and MacDonald and that's the current law of the land, i.e., current constitutional interpretation.
Jack Burton December 20, 2012 at 03:07 AM
And there's not a dimes worth of difference between jailing an innocent person who had his gun stolen and used for bad things and jailing an innocent person who had his car stolen and used for bad things other than you don't like guns.
Jack Burton December 20, 2012 at 03:08 AM
That's the best that Patrick can do, eh...
Jack Burton December 20, 2012 at 03:10 AM
shouting match = winning with logic, facts and questions that make pro gun control people look foolish
Jack Burton December 20, 2012 at 03:13 AM
David... EVERY gun is dangerous. I don't know of a one that isn't, and that even includes Daisy air rifles. It doesn't say "dangerous OR unusual" it says, "dangerous AND unusual" by your own admission. Since there are millions upon millions of ARs and AKs in the hands of law abiding citizens who are not using them to harm anyone it is going to be a tough sell claiming that they are either especially dangerous or unusual.
Diane December 20, 2012 at 04:09 AM
I am just a common citizen - I work, have two kids and go about my business. I do not own a gun but have no issue with other folks owning them for hunting or home protection or target practice or other such things. I am extremely alarmed however by the tone of the gun advocates here. Quite frankly I have not paid much attention to the gun control debate but rather than winning me over the pro-gun folks here may have frightened me into action. I am amazed at the arrogance of those writing and the ascertian that owning as many or whatever kind of gun and ammo is a sacred right handed down by God and not to be questioned. I believe the inalienable rights are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Of course I understand that the right to bear arms is a Constitutional right but to argue that that right extends to all weapons and no one may challenge it is frankly frightening. If this is the vision the NRA and the gun lobby continue to put forward I would hope that Americans like myself, that perhaps have been complacent for too long, will stand up and demand common sense gun control. I plan to write the president and my congressmen and further investigate how to support gun control efforts (maybe the Brady Foundation). I should thank you folks for opening my eyes and spurring me to get involved.
HiCarry December 20, 2012 at 04:38 AM
The test in Miller stated (incorrectly) that the short barreled shotgun was NOT an arm the military used and therefore was not protected. Therefore, arms used by the military, such as select fire assault rifles, should, under that ruling be legal. If those arms are legal, then surely the semi-automatic versions cannot be illegal. Secondarily, the AR platform rifles are the most common rifle in use today in America. Furthermore, if not for the NFA of 1934, fully automatic firearms and short barreled shotguns would be much more common. As for who needs these firearms, just ask the Korean merchants who, during the LA riots, when abandoned by the police, used these types of firearms to protect themselves and their stores.....
Patrick December 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Ok, Kleck's survey got to 2.5 million by asking 5000 people and 'extrapolating' which is sciency-talk for 'If 1 out of 5 says they like blue in 5000 people, then 1 out of 5 people must like blue in the rest of the 300 million people here.' The reason Henry is citing a study done in 1993 is because every study (that I could find in the 10 minutes I gave to this) done since then says that guy was full of crap. This sums it up well if you feel like reading. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10881&page=112
David Kent December 20, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Wow Diane, it can't be said much better than that! As the "vision of the NRA" you're seeing it here in the attitudes of gun advocates. NO LIMITATIONS WHATSOEVER. The heck with the good of the country! We DEMAND our guns! Full stop.
Charlie December 20, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Really Barbra you started it when you said “That person must have been dropped on their head as a small child?” because they had an opinion different than yours. While it is a knee jerk reaction to a tragic occurrence, arming teachers may or may not have averted several horrific tragedies from occurring across this country recently. My daughter's middle school has an armed police or resource officer in her school. That's OK? Because he is a sworn peace officer? Police are people also just like teachers. I can think of as many reasons where this can go bad as well as not. What if the teacher was a sworn peace officer also? What would be the difference? What if the teacher had specific training and stringent mental health requirements? My resource officer was simply picked because he had seniority in the department. He may consume alcohol with lunch for all I know. He may despise being stuck in a school full of kids. Maybe he moonlights and is half asleep during the day. Probably he is a competent, caring trusted individual just like a vast majority of my daughters teachers. While I currently don't believe arming teachers is the answer I am certainly open to an intelligent discussion on the pros and cons of the matter.
David Kent December 20, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I have no problem with schools having a designated, uniformed, armed officer. I'm a teacher and have seen that in multiple schools. Since this person is obviously a security officer and since he or she is trained as such, this is fine. Perhaps that's one of the takeaways from Newtown. Beyond that, however, I cannot see it. First, there is plenty of data out there that shows that more guns means more gun violence. If we make guns prevalent throughout schools, we'll have more not less violence. Second, principals and teachers must remain focused on teaching and NOT be asked to become security officers themselves. Finally, can anyone envisage a class with a teacher at the front of the room with a loaded handgun at his/her hip?
David Kent December 20, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Jack Burton says: There are “millions upon millions of ARs and AKs in the hands of law abiding citizens” Hmmmm… not according to the Congressional Research Service… http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32842.pdf … which says of the United States in 2009: “By the year 2009 the estimated total number of firearms available to civilians in the U.S. had increased to approximately 310 million: 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns” … “data are not available on the number of ‘assault weapons’ in private possession or available for sale, but one study estimated that 1.5 million assault weapons were privately owned in 1994.” Let’s see: 1.5 million out of 310 million: That’s less than a whopping one half of one percent Jack! Now, the assault weapon estimate is pretty old. Why don’t I give you the benefit of the doubt and double the assault weapon percentage to 1%. I’m sorry Jack, but Americans don’t own “millions upon millions” of assault weapons. Assault weapons most definitely ARE unusual.
mark cool December 21, 2012 at 12:24 AM
David - you wrote: ... there is plenty of data out there that shows that more guns mean more gun violence. ~ I won't disputing that. Yet I truly don't thing think that's the fundamental argument. Rather, I think the fear of those law abiding, God fearing, good people out there, bearing witness to the developing societal chasm of differences, don't want to be left defenseless against the "bad guys" that have uninhibited access to "unreasonable" firepower. Do you think for one second, any of those Fathers in Newtown, if witness to the horrific deed on their child, wouldn't have wishes he had been there with a bazooka to defend his child? In simplest terms, I believe all would go to the nines to defend family or home. The true question is whether it's "appropriate" to place a disadvantage on those that would defend wives, sons or daughters? If folks would answer honestly, without the echoes of "jumbya" filtering their instinctual response, I think the the answer would be clear. We started this conversation with more guns translating into more violence... and I agree. More violence would be on those law abiding, God fearing, good people out there that utter words of temperance and misplaced trust in enforcement of current law. I pray none of us have such an ordeal, but if the ordeal is ever realized, I pray I (if not others) am not the sheep confronted by the wolf.
BHirsh December 21, 2012 at 12:39 AM
David KEnt, you wrote: Jack Burton says: There are “millions upon millions of ARs and AKs in the hands of law abiding citizens” Hmmmm… not according to the Congressional Research Service… http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32842.pdf … which says of the United States in 2009: “By the year 2009 the estimated total number of firearms available to civilians in the U.S. had increased to approximately 310 million: 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 86 million shotguns” … “data are not available on the number of ‘assault weapons’ in private possession or available for sale, but one study estimated that 1.5 million assault weapons were privately owned in 1994.” Let’s see: 1.5 million out of 310 million: That’s less than a whopping one half of one percent Jack! Now, the assault weapon estimate is pretty old. Why don’t I give you the benefit of the doubt and double the assault weapon percentage to 1%. I’m sorry Jack, but Americans don’t own “millions upon millions” of assault weapons. Assault weapons most definitely ARE unusual. _________________________________________________________ Irrelevant. The Miller test is: that they are in common use (they are); that they bear some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia (they do) THAT is the only thing that counts, per precedent.
David Kent December 21, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Come on Mark, do you really think that people are buying AR-15s with large ammo clips to protect their families? No way man! Those types of weapons are being purchased by collectors and by guys who just love the feel of a bad a** weapon in their hands. Have you ever heard of a home invasion by people armed with military-style weapons? Perhaps you have, but let’s be sensible here: That’s EXCEEDINGLY rare. No, hand guns are the dominant weapons of choice for home invaders, that is, by people who threaten families. So a hand gun, or perhaps a conventional rifle, is the appropriate weapon for someone looking to protect his/her family. There’s no need for them to arm up as if they're patrolling a dangerous sector of Baghdad! Now, even if home owners DID employ assault weapons, that wouldn’t be a problem if a side effect of that didn’t exist: The fact that they’re also available to mentally unstable people like the Newtown shooter. But, as we see over and over, that side effect does exist. So, allowing average citizens to overarm with assault weapons is bad for society.
David Kent December 21, 2012 at 01:05 AM
One half of one percent is common BHirsh? Not very I'm afraid.
BHirsh December 21, 2012 at 03:23 PM
David, I don't know what dimension you inhabit, but down here in the three we're familiar with, military-pattern semi-auto rifles are (and have been for quite awhile) de rigeur. That's just a fact. Besides handguns, what rifles have been flying of the shelves over the last decade? (rhetorical, but I'll answer it anyway) The very rifles you say are not in common use. I guess since they're buying them but not using them, they got them as investments, right? [eyecross] Please. You're in denial.

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