Letter to the Editor: Shootings won’t be stopped by adding more guns

Published 9:00 am Friday, May 27, 2022

It has happened again: another massacre of innocent people by a heavily-armed assailant. Predictably, there have followed the trite, ubiquitous comments by state and national leaders offering “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families.

Meanwhile, those directly affected and millions of others of us who have been shocked and disgusted by the events ask, as hundreds of times before, “Why did this happen? How can it be stopped or prevented?” We feel helpless to do anything about it.

Elected officials, especially those on the political right, trot out their standard solutions: arm teachers, more guards/police in schools and other public places, and fewer gun restrictions because “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Really? Since when is the solution to any situation with too much of something to add even more of it?

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The United States leads the world (many times over) in private gun ownership – and not surprisingly in the number of incidents of mass shootings and murders by gunshot. A relatively small portion of the U.S. population is obsessed with guns – and the “right to keep and bear arms.” It is guaranteed in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, they adamantly affirm without any thought to the historical context in which that amendment was written.

In the 1770’s and 1780’s when the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were being formulated, “arms” consisted of muzzle-loading muskets and pistols. The authors of those documents could not have imagined assault rifles with high-capacity magazines capable of discharging hundreds of high-velocity, high-powered rounds per minute. Given the deliberation and debate that accompanied the writing of those documents, does any rational person really think that the founders intended for the door to be left open for the carnage we see today?

I have a suggestion for anyone who wants to do something to help prevent mass shootings: When you vote in any local, state or national election, vote AGAINST any candidate who touts his/her positive NRA rating – or who proclaims his/her support and defense of the second amendment – or appears in a campaign ad carrying or using a firearm. Those candidates are never going to consider or support even minimal common sense gun control measures. In order to change the current gun culture, the people who have the power to make or change laws have to change.

— Steve Rinehart