By Paul Helmke
To those of us who think we make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous guns, this is a somber week ahead.
Friday marks the third anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech. Thirty-two innocent lives were taken by a dangerous young man who had easy access to guns. Four days later, Tuesday, April 20 marks the 11th anniversary of the deaths of 13 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, because two young men had easy access to guns.
Sandwiched between these painful anniversaries, two gun lobby gatherings are planned in the Washington D.C. area on Monday, April 19 – on the anniversaries of the battles of Lexington and Concord, the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building and the conflagration of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas. Organizers say they’re fighting to restore gun rights in America.
At this time in our history, gun toters can go into a Starbucks in more than 40 states with a loaded firearm. Brady background check records must be immediately destroyed. Congress is poised to eviscerate all of the gun laws in our nation’s Capital. Gun victims’ access to the courts has been curtailed. And Wayne LaPierre, the president of the NRA, says “the guys with the guns make the rules.” Nevertheless, the gun extremists say that gun rights in the United States are facing tremendous threats.
It’s hard to consider this paranoia about gun privileges being at risk with a straight face. We need civility in our gun policy debate in America, and I make a concerted effort to be polite and open to those who disagree with sensible gun laws every day. But in America, the guys with the guns don’t make the rules – and that, whether Wayne LaPierre likes it or not, is one of the foundations of our democracy.
Gun privileges at risk? Lori Haas helped nurse her daughter, Emily, back to health after she was wounded at Virginia Tech. Does Lori think gun rights are at risk in America?
“Are you serious?” Lori responded. “When firearms sales have skyrocketed in the last 18 months? There is absolutely nothing that prevents law abiding citizens from purchasing firearms. There is no threat. On the contrary – they, along with criminals, the mentally ill and others who are legally ineligible from purchasing firearms can walk into any gun show in most states and buy all the firearms they want – no questions asked. I can’t quite fathom those so-called law abiding citizens wanting people the law has deemed unsuitable to be able to purchase firearms. It makes no sense.”
The organizers of the “Second Amendment March,” near the Washington Monument in Washington and the armed “Restore the Constitution Rally” make a point of assuring us that they don’t intend to use their events as a springboard to a violent assault on the U.S., Government. “If we planned to overthrow the government,” wrote one of the organizers of the Virginia event, Daniel Almond, “we wouldn’t invite so many of them to join us here on the lawn, we wouldn’t announce our intention beforehand, and we wouldn’t meet up on the wrong side of the river.”
If you want to simplify this issue, read these names.
Friday is the anniversary of the deaths of Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Ryan Clark, Daniel Perez Cueva, Caitlin Hammaren, Emily Jane Hilscher, Matt La Porte, Jarrett Lane, Henry Lee, Juan Ortiz, Mary Karen Read, Reema Samaha, Leslie Sherman, Maxine Turner, Erin Peterson , Jeremy Herbstritt, Daniel O’Neil, Brian Bluhm, Michael Pohle, Austin Cloyd, Waleed Shaalan, Julia Pryde, Matthew Gwaltney , Nicole White, Rachael Hill, Lauren McCain, Partahi Lombantoruan, Minal Panchal, Christopher James Bishop, Dr. Kevin P. Granata, G.V. Loganathan, Dr. Liviu Librescu and Jocelyne Couture-Nowak.
Tuesday is the anniversary of the deaths of Rachel Scott, Daniel Rohrbough, William David Sanders, Cassie Bernall, Steven Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend and Kyle Velasquez.
I urge everyone to remember Virginia Tech and Columbine. One of the reasons all the victims died was our lack of sensible gun laws to keep dangerous people from getting dangerous weapons.