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Linda Pletka is retired and lives in Orono.
Dr. Geoff Gratwick’s commentary in the Bangor Daily News is dead on when it comes to necessarily emphasizing “life-and-death” rights in the current argument over gun rights, adding unalienable rights — those of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — aka “living without fear.”
For example, who among us, nowadays, can enter any normal, daily public space — whether bank, restaurant, supermarket, drugstore, church, theater, nightclub and school, etc., or even drive along any road — without being acutely cognizant of recent deadly shootings? And this is America?
But our children know (and trust) the “grownups are in charge”? Yet, who among us would today ever want to go to school, facing the same life-or-death, public-school threats of our own children?
Grown-ups have empowered and look to (and trust) our elected government officials as the “adults” to properly make and apply the needed, appropriate laws, supposedly safe-guarding all of our rights.
First, don’t legal arguments always focus on “intent”? One learns in legal-talk “intent” is key in the fairness and application of all legal proceedings and laws. And yet, wasn’t the framers’ specific “intent” in writing the 2nd Amendment the musket-bearing force intended specifically in the case of a battle?
Secondly, aren’t the rights of one population group (gun-owners) equal to but not overriding the rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) of another? An alternate way to manage rights was clearly demonstrated by the ultimate huge defeat of the right of smokers to smoke everywhere. Surely, that battle rang clear: one’s public right ends when it destroys another’s.
Looking at the evolution of guns in America, beginning with the development of the ArmaLite rifle in the late ’50s, we rapidly progressed through the military’s upgraded M-16 to semi-automatics for public consumption. Indeed, the NRA so loves the “AR” that, with 16 million people owning AR-15s in the U.S., it has been called “America’s Rifle.”
But what of laws? What of the children? Or public safety? Except for a ban in 1994 on assault weapons, which expired in 2004, have our laws kept pace with easily modified, semi-automatic assault-style weapons, which are created and used to kill large numbers of people, very quickly?
While the Second and Fourteenth Amendments might be argued to trump those framer’s militia rights, might not the Fourteenth and Ninth — the same one claimed to give women, over men, the right to own and/or destroy their unborn babies — and the “unalienable rights” of “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” stipulated in the Constitution, be argued to secure the “right to not fear,” for all?
Other countries — Argentina, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand — have all successfully done gun buy-backs. America’s fathers could lead the way — for the sake of the children. Or, we could ban assault rifles, again. It’s well known through surveys that an enormous percentage of Americans favor reasonable gun control.
Americans should not be tied, as ever-increasing slaves, to fear — nor aided in prevailing and, seemingly, growing governmental distrust. Our government officials are entrusted to form laws ensuring the well-being of all. Perhaps by moving beyond our entrenched, archaic philosophy of “of, for and by the lobbyist,” they will ensure forevermore, Abraham Lincoln‘s claim at Gettysburg of one “of, for, and by the people.”