The Republican convention is underway in Tampa. It has been a little over shadowed in the news by hurricane Issac. The main issues that they are trying to push is the economy and their plan to fix medicare and healthcare in the country. However there is a huge issue that looms even larger, not only for Republicans but for Democrats as well. It is the issue of gun control. Out of all the amendments to the constitution, the 2nd amendment which gives us the right to bare arms, has never been challenged in nor interpreted by the Supreme Court. It is not on the front burner for either party but it is the huge pink elephant in the room. Eventually it needs to be dealt with for the safety and protection of our country. It is even more important than terrorism.
In the last few years gun violence has touched us all in a major way. It seems like almost every day some one is opening fire in a public place of going on a shooting rampage. The United States has become the most violent place on earth. More people have been murdered with guns on the streets of the United States this year than have been killed in Afghanistan and in every current war in the world. Back in the 1980’s the murders mostly involved gang and drug related activities. In today’s violent times even the upper class, wealthy, and privileged are not immune to gun violence.
In January 2011 Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head by Jared Loughner when he opened fire outside a grocery store during a meeting with her constituents, killing six people and wounding 13 others. In May of this year Ian Lee Stawicki, opened fire in a coffee house and left six people dead in Seattle, WA, a normally laid back city. In July in Aurora, CO, A gunman, dressed in tactical clothing, set off tear gas grenades and shot into a movie theater audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others, the highest number of casualties in an American mass shooting. The sole suspect is James Holmes, who was arrested outside minutes later and is awaiting trial. On August 5 Wade Michael Page opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee. He killed six people and wounded four others before he was shot in the abdomen during a firefight with police. In new York, Jeffrey Johnson killed former co-worker Steve Ercolino when he opened fire outside the empire state building. The result was two dead including the gunman and 9 people wounded. Officials said it could have been much worse. In Chicago on August 23 of this year 19 people were gunned down in one night.
These are just a few of the major incidents, involving gun violence, that have happened recently. There have also been incidents at schools where students have had guns on the school grounds and have murdered other students or committed suicide. We must also factor in the amount of accidental shootings and suicides using hand guns. According to the website gunpolicy.org there are 270 million guns in the United States. That is one gun per person. No other country in the world has that many guns. In 2010 there were over 14,000 gun related homicides which ranks number one in the world including countries where there are wars going on. In 2005 there were over 17,000 suicides using guns and each year almost 1,000 accidental gun deaths most of those involving children. We are not as safe as we think. In addition, the United States is the arms dealer to the world. The United States made 66.3 billion dollars selling arms to other countries in 2011. More than any other nation on earth. How can we continue to proliferate weapons upon ourselves and the world and expect things to get better?
The Brady bill which was signed into law during the presidency of Bill Clinton instituted background checks before guns could be purchased. That has not been enough. People have found ways around that law and there has become a tremendous black market for weapons especially assault and military style weapons. You can even buy Guns and other weapons on the internet. Clearly more needs to be done. The federal assault weapons ban that was also passed during the Clinton administration expired in 2004 and was never renewed. It faced strong Republican opposition. It was opposed by the National Rifle Association who’s membership is mostly Republican. It seems silly that they would be opposed to such a ban. You do not need a gun that rapidly fires multiple rounds in order to hunt or to protect your home. These assault weapons are made for war and for hunting and killing people.
When the second amendment was instituted the United States was a different country. It was wilderness and farms. There were no police agency’s or military to protect the citizens so people needed guns for protection. There was also homesteading and land claims going on and people had to protect their land. In our society there is no need for this type of protection. The only reason it is needed is because we have flooded the streets with guns. We have fostered a society that is more and more looking like the wild wild west of old and not civilization. As a man of God, I never like to see any one hurt or loose their life, especially when it is senseless. The bible says: And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:4. It is time to beat our guns into plowshares. How many more must die on the streets in the United States of America? The law makers must act on policy that is really a threat to our lives and safety. You won’t need heath care or a job if you’re dead.