Merriott column: He’s drunk, and he’s got a gun
Growing up in North Louisiana in the early 1960s those words — “he’s drunk, and he’s got a gun” — struck terror in my heart.
There was a gentleman who will remain unnamed, but who apparently every weekend would get into the whiskey and inevitably pull out his revolver and squeeze a few .38-caliber rounds harmlessly into the night sky.
One weekend me and a couple friends even ventured over to his trailer and, yep, there he was staggering around in his front yard. Having done a few 12-ounce curls ourselves we hollered at him, and all of a sudden there was a pistol leveled at us.
Not the night skies — at us. Well, we weren’t scared but did feel it was time to go. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in the world our kids now live in. So far, 15 out of the 19 weeks of this school year there has been a school shooting.
Since the massacre at Columbine High School 20 years ago, our country has seen more than 230 school shootings, not including colleges. That’s almost 12 a year; one a month.
But that’s not the worst of it. It’s actually getting worse not better, as 2018 was the worst year ever. Most of us are weary of the “thoughts and prayers” BS (for the record, I am a Christian, pray daily and both my girls have taken the concealed carry class).
We want real solutions from our leadership. Apparently, some of us have been numbed by the experience, as in the last shooting at Highlands Ranch where our local papers relegated the shooting to the proverbial back pages the day after.
One paper bemoaned the loss of a cherished bakery on its front page, while another offered a full-page layout of a new brew pub, which I thought especially strange — mainly because a valley teenager had just days before (while under the influence of alcohol while driving) killed one of his best friends.
WTH kind of message are we sending here? But that’s for another day. Clearly, there are too many crazy people with guns, not unlike the drunks of yesteryear, except that they don’t sober up. They usually just get worse without help.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2008 wrote that, “The right to bear arms is not unlimited and is subject to reasonable prohibitions and regulations.” Subsequent federal court rulings have upheld existing gun prohibitions and regulations. It has been written that the “individual rights model must yield to reasonable regulation.”
It is no more absolute than freedom of speech or any other right in the Constitution, or driving a car for that matter. No right is absolute; the government is always allowed to restrict the right if it can satisfy Constitutional strict scrutiny and the restriction is “narrowly tailored to promote a goal of compelling importance.”
It is my opinion that the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by a Committee of 5, including Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston, should have at least equal standing to the Second Amendment.
As you know, it reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.”
Certainly, we can all agree that the 20 six-year-old’s and six teachers at Sandy Hook were all deprived of the above by a deranged individual with a military style weapon.
Here’s what needs to happen ASAP at the federal level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be commissioned to make recommendations and/or issue regulations. As this an urgent problem, it should be two-tiered and we should have results in the short term (3-6 months) and (long term 12-18 months).
Everything should be on the table. Licensing all guns, banning assault weapons, training and arming teachers, and allowing nonviolent felons the right to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.
By the way, the CDC charge is to save lives and protect people from health, safety and security threats. If gun violence doesn’t qualify, then smallpox shouldn’t either. You might ask why this did not happen years ago, and I would tell you big money in politics. Congress, it’s past time to grow a pair.
If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
Frosty Merriott is a CPA in Carbondale and former Carbondale Town Council member. He is a registered independent and considers himself a fiscal conservative but an original tree hugger from Louisiana. His column appears monthly in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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