By Brian Niegemann
In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, there have been a few letters to The Herald opining that the solution to gun violence is not stricter regulation. Rather, the writers feel that raising children with greater respect for law and order, better parenting and/or more religious faith will solve the problem.
These writers have a point. If every parent raised their children to be better citizens, there might be less crime and violence generally. And if every human being on earth believed in God, love, peace and justice we would scarcely need police departments at all. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a utopia. Nor is it likely to happen anytime soon.
We do live in a country whose founding fathers believed that “a well-regulated militia” was necessary to preserve our freedoms. But gun owners today are not a “well-regulated militia.” To be sure, most gun owners are law-abiding citizens who just want to protect their homes or go hunting. Let me say clearly that I believe every citizen has a right to own suitable weapons for such purposes. Our government has the power to better regulate firearms ownership without infringing on the rights of responsible citizens. That’s all I want.
But many gun owners are mentally ill (gun suicides claim 18,000 lives each year). Many are criminals for whom guns are just a tool of their trade (gang violence takes thousands more lives yearly). Some are psychopaths, terrorists and other types who get their thrills from murder and mayhem.
Yet literally anyone, no matter how unfit, can get a gun, even a rapid-fire rifle with a thousand-yard range. They can be bought at gun shows, sometimes with no questions asked.
There are 200 million guns in our country. Nobody has any idea where most of them are. Is this a “well-regulated militia”? Our government is failing miserably to protect us, due largely to the lobbying power and propaganda of arms manufacturers. So unless those who want better control of firearms fight a lot harder, there is going to be another Las Vegas. And another, and another.
And for those of you who don’t know the origin of the phrase “well-regulated militia,” it is found at the beginning of the Second Amendment. Thanks for listening.
Brian Niegemann lives in Everett.