Connecticut massacre: Cant it be a turning point on gun control debate?
By Roger Adhikari special to N24:
As, last of the Sandy hook elementary School victims being placed in the final resting ground, the country is searching for an answer for this senseless killing by the deranged young man.
For the first time in over several decades, the incident has put the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the supporters of the gun right on defense.
However, it is yet be seen whether the Newtown tragedy is going to be the impetus in passing a meaningful gun control law, specifically banning the assault rifle and high capacity magazine, solely designed to kill maximum number of people in a shortest possible time.
The pro gun supporters wrongfully believe that the intent of the Second Amendment was to allow individual bear arm for fighting against the government tyranny, not in context of the well organized militia in case of the foreign invasion, as framers had intended.
Despite championing the States right and individual rights there is no indication whether even Thomas Jefferson and other federalists were supportive of the second amendment for the reason believed by the pro gun supporters.
In1939, US vs.Miller, the Supreme Court made ruling that “The Second Amendment must be interpreted and applied with a view to its purpose of rendering effective the Militia.”
Again in 1980, in Lewis vs. US, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the 1939 ruling made by the “Miller court” that “the Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have “some reasonable relationship to [445 U.S. 55, 66] the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”).
Yet, thanks to the NRA and their hard knuckle politics, most people still seem to believe that the individual gun ownership is guaranteed by the second amendment.
One week After the Sandy Hook massacre, Wayne Lapierre, the NRA Leader addressed the killing in a hyperbole press conference, by defending the gun ownership and blaming the Killings on everything else but gun.
Outside the Fox Brigade and Rush Limbaugh, Lapierre’s comment, generally, received a very swift and negative reaction. Even Republicans distanced themselves from his cold comment.
Each gun incidents, from Aurora to Wisconsin has brought a new vigor on gun ownership debate, particularly high powered gun and high capacity magazine, yet most conservative politicians have remained quiet and congress has been incommunicado on the matter that takes more lives in one month than September 11, 2001.
Therefore, despite early strong reaction against the incident and demand for a sensible gun control law by the public, many people fear that Republican Congress may continue to stonewall for any meaningful changes unless public pressure continues to mount.
As a father of two School age children, President Barack Obama’s tearful reaction to the devastating incident was natural. His formation of “Gun commission” lead by Vice President Joe Biden is the first of such commission on gun control issue in recent memory. And, knowing Mr. Biden’s track record on the matter, one may expect to see sensible recommendations.
From Columbine to Connecticut, each massacre seem to have two common denominators; access of high powered gun and mental health issue.
Despite insurmountable influence by the NRA and pro gun lobby in the congress, passing the gun control law – restricting automatic weapons and unlimited ammo – may be relatively easier than legislatively addressing the mental health issue. The mental health has been the most neglected part of the healthcare system, significantly underfunded by the congress and overlooked by the general public with no personal mental health experience.
While, accessibility of the providers is the forefront of the Mental care issue, the legal guardianship of the mental health patients, which under the current law, is difficult to change, is also an important factor causing some mental health patients free to commit violent crimes.
While, we cherish the individual rights granted by the constitution and must keep defending those rights, no right is more important than right to live.
Therefore, Congress must look at the gun violence in totality and find a right balance between the individual rights to live and right to own gun.
We must show the same urgency to address this madness as we have shown the determination to stop the terrorist attack after 911. Congress must do its duty to protect its citizens by passing the law which has a reasonable chance to stop senseless violence.