As I See It: A Little Common Sense, Please | Opinion

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At 18 in this country, you can’t buy a six-pack of beers. At 18, you can’t buy a pack of cigarettes. At the age of 18, however, you can purchase an assault weapon.

This is madness.

In the original Constitution, citizens could own slaves. We changed that. In the original Constitution, women could not vote. We changed that.

In the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which was itself a modification of the original Constitution, citizens were guaranteed “the right to bear arms” (a well-regulated militia being necessary). We may also change or modify this.

Why?

We suffered a scourge of mass shootings – the last of seven participants in the July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, closely following 19 third- and fourth-grade students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, and 10 shoppers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. and that’s only recently.

What about the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” demanded in the Declaration of Independence? It’s hard to pursue this if you’re dead.

We lead the world in guns, gun deaths and mass shootings.

One might think that some action is in order. One would think that everyone would agree on this point. Yes, we’ve taken a bipartisan first step on background checks, but those assault rifles remain readily available.

Only from my ‘cold, dead hands’, the late Mr Heston said of any attempt to restrict guns.

How about cold dead children’s hands?

The original “weapons” were single-shot flintlock rifles. An assault rifle is an entirely different matter. Is there a limit here? machine guns? Howitzers? Hand grenades? Rocket launcher? missiles? Nuclear weapons? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

We could limit access to extreme “weapons”. We could set an age limit. We may require background checks and waiting periods. We may limit the types and quantities of ammunition. And, yes, we could pay more attention to mental health and “toughening up” schools.

So why not us ?

It is simply a question of common sense, conviction and courage. Forget the gun lobby. Forget the extremists. We’ll never get their votes anyway.

Shame on those who only offer “thoughts and prayers”. Shame on those who dare not defend what is right, what is necessary. Shame on those who would dare to risk the life of one more child, one more target group, in the name of individual rights.

Just do it.

By the way, this writer is a three-year veteran of the US Army, once a member of the “militia”, once trained to kill. I never felt the need to carry a gun to protect my freedom from my own government. It’s paranoia.

I also didn’t feel the need to carry a gun to protect my family from harm. In 79 years on the planet, I have yet to face such a circumstance. I’ll take the risk if it means less violence for others.

Also, as a teacher for 35 years, I oppose the proposal to arm teachers. This runs counter to the nurturing environment necessary for growth and learning. It shouldn’t be part of a teacher’s job description.

Should doctors and nurses be armed in the hospital? Should athletes and entertainers be armed at games and concerts? Should supermarket employees be armed while stocking the shelves? Should church leaders be armed while conducting services? Should lawmakers be armed as they go about running the country?

It would be the wild, wild west – a shootout at the OK Corral.

We can be better than that. We could all be safer (and freer) with new, common-sense legislation.

It’s time for Congress to stay on the case. It’s time for citizens to demand change, to hold Congress accountable, to speak out, to support campaigns, to vote their conscience.

This should be a position of strength for a party, not a position to hide from.

If we don’t act now, when will we?

Stuart Deane lives in Newburyport.

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