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Jenifer’s Journal: Rights and wrongs

Semi-automatics have only two purposes. One is so owners can take them to the shooting range once in a while, [and] yell yeehaw … at the rapid fire and the burning vapor spurting from the end of the barrel. Their other use — their only other use – is to kill people. — Stephen King

Two weeks ago we were in the middle of Memorial Day weekend and, less than a month from today, it will be the 4th of July. The former commemorates the deaths of those Americans in military service who have laid down their lives for their country. 

And then we have people — old people, innocent people, very, very young people who are needless victims of pandemics, or criminal injustice, or wholesale slaughter in the name of “gun rights,” who have died because of America.

That can’t be what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they crafted the Constitution. Imperfect men, they had a perfect vision of a nation of free and equal citizens whose rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would always be protected.

In the face of millennia of monarchies across the globe, those men were fighting for a patently revolutionary idea. However, I think the last thing such men would’ve imagined would be that what they created, along with its first 10 amendments, would remain, nearly 250 years hence, essentially unchanged.

Those men, those revolutionaries, living 50 years before the modern bullet became widely used, would survey the carnage wrought by the indiscriminate use of modern assault weapons supported — some claim — by that Second Amendment they’d penned over two centuries ago and say, “Something must be done!”

When the leading cause of death now for children in this country is gun violence, yes, they would probably agree with a large, bi-partisan majority of Americans who support common sense measures like background checks, red-flagging and the banning of military-style assault weapons.

But the fact is, there’s nothing logical in the furious refusal of a relatively small group of citizens to even consider those measures. They seem convinced that the government is out to disarm and eventually destroy those who must defend themselves against such tyranny. As with “voter fraud,” these people fiercely adhere to “solutions” for problems that don’t exist. Tyranny does exist, however. Along with the tragic epidemic of gun violence this nation continues to suffer, it’s a sad irony that it’s actually the tyranny of the minority that puts all of us, men, women and children at risk.

No one is suggesting that the importance of the Second Amendment should be discounted, least of all me. It, along with the other nine amendments that form our Bill of Rights, was ratified in 1791, fulfilling the promise the founders had made to the states in exchange for their having ratified the Constitution two years earlier.

Only a mere half-generation away from straining under the yoke of a monarchy, the new Americans had a vested interest in insuring their right to “a well-regulated Militia,” as well as “the right to keep and bear arms.” Though both the basic substance and spirit of those rights remain inviolable today, the Founders could’ve never have envisioned what the unregulated bearing “arms” would come to mean, any more than they could’ve imagined the toxic implications that have accrued from the now-superannuated “freedom of speech” they enshrined in the First Amendment.

Our Constitution must be strong and supple. If it is not a living document, then our nation is already doomed to “perish from this earth.”

On May 30, 2022, the California Broadcasting Company interviewed Richard Small, “a member of the National Rifle Association for over 25 years. In the aftermath of the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., he decided to turn in his AR-15 rifle to police …‘One of those kids in the pictures reminds me of my grandson right now who’s the same age. They could have been twins,’ said Small ‘and when I saw him on the TV with the news, I told my wife…’Look, he could be William…’”

Like I said, the Fourth of July’s only four weeks away. If Memorial Day is a sober recognition of sacrifice and death, then certainly our nation’s birthday is a celebration of life, or so it should be. My youngest granddaughter’s birthday is in July, too. She’ll be 7 and can’t wait for 2nd grade. Her brother turns 9 in August and he’s looking forward to being a 4th grader in September.

Please, dear God, protect them from harm.