Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

July 3, 2014

High court unwilling to back armed citizenry

— In 1968 I stood behind a mounted M60 machine gun while patrolling the Berlin Wall. The weapon was empty and the locked ammo box was on the floor of the jeep. Back at McNair Barracks fellow soldiers walked around the post without a right to either open carry or concealed carry of weapons. On the other side of the world soldiers were carrying weapons because they were in a war zone.

Fast forward to 2014 and Republican-controlled legislatures are enabling citizens of all ages and backgrounds to walk down main street with rifles slung over their shoulders, guns on hips or concealed in shoulder holsters or purses. They are in lockstep with the NRA and won’t rest until all of this country has an armed citizenry.

Last I looked, Oakland and Cumberland didn’t fit the tab for being in a war zone. Not Baltimore, either, unless you want to sell drugs on the wrong corner. It is my strong belief that most people would be unsettled walking into a restaurant where numerous customers had their rifles hanging over the backs of chairs like they did recently at Chipotle’s in Dallas or walking down the aisle at Kroger’s supermarket in Charlottesville and seeing a 22-year-old with a loaded AR-15 or see standing on a corner in his pajamas with a rifle strapped to his shoulder a man like Joseph Houseman of Kalamazoo, who was venting his anger at the government by yelling epithets at motorists and police.

He wasn’t ruled a danger and he kept his rifle. If your son is involved in a schoolyard fight and you want to discuss the problem with the father of the other boy, don’t venture up his driveway in Florida or you may not hear the shot legally coming.

Recently, a Christian evangelist wrote a commentary in this paper, “So where will Mayor Bloomberg wind up,” June 3. He wasn’t content with disagreeing with the mayor’s campaign to take on the NRA but had to disparage the man’s Jewish faith by accusing him of lying about gun statistics thus rendering him un-Christian and worthy of hell.

Jesus was even moved into the NRA corner since he must have approved of Peter’s open carry of a sword, the ancient substitute for a gun. Of course gun statistics are hard to come by. Some folks still quote from John Lott’s book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” but that work has been thoroughly debunked. Can’t look to government statistics because the NRA’s point men in Congress slipped in provisions in 1996 and 2011 that effectively prohibit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health from doing research on guns and violence. Perhaps the evangelist’s facts are also questionable and his soul’s fate, too, according to his logic.

Like the other 26 amendments to the Constitution, the Second Amendment is not open to individual interpretation. Only the Supreme Court has the final say and this extremely conservative court has only said that a handgun can be kept in the home for self-defense.

Challenges to state laws prohibiting open or concealed carry have been turned away and straw purchases were recently ruled illegal by this court.

So even an activist court like the present is unwilling to give a green light to an armed citizenry.

William Tunney

Bel Air, Cumberland

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