The Second Amendment: The Amendment that Supersedes All Others
The recent debate on legislation to prevent gun violence provides a clear contrast in the ideologies of the right wing agenda and the rest of the country. In loud strident voices warning of a federal government that ultimately plans to invade homes and seize all guns, the right wing throws reason and logic out and focuses on the fears of a small base. The gun lobby acts as if the Second Amendment were the final words from a much higher authority and that those words declared all citizens should be armed. They should be armed with anything that they want - large magazine clips, military-assault type weapons, armor-piercing bullets and lots and lots of guns.
When asked about the First Amendment, which speaks to liberty and life, the Second Amendment trumps that. It does not matter if most Americans want to feel safe in malls and theaters and if most Americans want children to be safe in schools; only the gun matters. Background checks which might prevent the mentally ill, criminals, or known violent domestic abusers from having guns are an infringement on their rights. It would appear that this only applies to guns. Most people submit to background checks for a new job or a mortgage. Most people even submit to giving airlines their personal information. But the gun lobby decries a federal registry as part of a "slippery slope" for the government to track innocent citizens. What about the GPS in your phone? Your EZ Pass? Of course, few mention that it against current federal law to even have a gun registry, making the whole argument a red herring.
Senators Manchin and Toomey, along with Senators Kirk and Schumer, have co-sponsored a bi-partisan amendment to the gun violence prevention bill which will begin debate this week. It is weak, but it is a start. However there are proposed amendments by some that would make the bill a pro-gun bill. Senator Graham wants an amendment saying those who are mentally ill can still own weapons. He also believes that those on the terror watch list should be able to buy guns. Other amendments being discussed would allow active service military personnel to purchase weapons at their legal residences as well as where they are stationed. But the one that scares me the most says if a person has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in one state, they can carry that weapon in a state where it is prohibited - called concealed reciprocity. As a resident of NJ, I do not want to see our very tough laws weakened. And therein lies the conundrum - is any law better than none? Is it a victory or a loss?
This week and next will be a display of bravo on the part of the Second Amendment absolutists. They will fill the air waives with false statements and try to score points with a small base led by gun groups.
The only counter to that is our voices. We must continue to call and email Congress. If you have time, go to DC or find a local demonstration to show that you want to protect your children, your fellow citizens and yourselves. Stay with JAC as we support legislation that will begin to work on the violence in America. Everyday 33 people are shot by guns. Can any of us afford to stay silent?