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Letter to the Editor: Common Sense Measures Necessary to Reduce Wanton Gun Violence

letter to the editorThe Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which was ratified in 1791, reads as follows: “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.”

In the aftermath of the latest mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, once again the meaning of the Second Amendment has become the topic of heated debate in the US. On the majority of fiscal issues and some social ones, I consider myself right of center. But not on gun issues. Starting with assault weapons that have but one purpose – to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible – and what purpose they serve in the private sector. As I read and listen to conservative commentators, I hear opposition to any effort by the government to limit citizens’ access to firearms, including the imposition of common sense reform such as universal background checks, the need for a license to operate a firearm, and a ban on weapons and accessories that turn firearms into the most lethal form of killing machine. Most galling is the slippery slope argument made by some conservatives, that by allowing the government to impose any limit on the population’s access to firearms, it creates a slippery slope that will inevitably lead to government confiscation of everyone’s guns. This absolutist argument is spurious, and in my view anyone who makes it lacks mind, heart and soul.

It is time for all of us in Scarsdale and elsewhere to step back and ask why US society has, by far, the highest rate of homicides by firearms in the world. As for the intent of the Second Amendment, one needs to consider the context in which it was adopted in the late 18th century. It was written in the context of a society still deemed at risk from exogenous forces that threatened one’s property. That’s to say the least a different world than the one we live in today. Most of all, the right to bear arms does not equate to an absolute, unconditional right, much as the right to drive a car, or to become a teacher, lawyer or doctor requires that one obtain a license to do so. With mass shootings in the US now occurring with frightening regularity, it is time for everyone to get on board in support of a legislative approach to prevent mentally unbalanced people from gaining access to firearms, for assault weapons to be made illegal except for military and law enforcement use and for other common sense measures necessary to reduce wanton gun violence to become law

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