OPINION: Is anyone surprised about the Navy Yard massacre? | PostIndependent.com

OPINION: Is anyone surprised about the Navy Yard massacre?

Jim Hoffman
Free Press Weekly Opinion Columnist

To no surprise to anyone, another massacre has occurred. To the surprise of no one, a gun was involved.

To no surprise to anyone, people jumped to the forefront with all the tired cliches of “guns don’t kill people,” “hammers kill more people than gun,” “it is time to exercise more control,” “don’t infringe on my rights”, etc. To no surprise to anyone, I come down on the side of what many call “common-sense” regulations — regulations that would limit the ability to kill scores without reloading, regulations that would better control the sale of weapons to criminals.

Those who claim that Abel was killed with a rock, that where there is a will there is a way, simply do not wish us to confront the facts. The facts are stark; guns are efficient instruments of death that allow mass killings in short periods of time. An assailant armed with a rock, hammer or knife would not likely be capable of fatally wounding 10-15 people prior to being subdued. Wounds resulting from attacks from those other weapons are significantly less lethal than those delivered by a gun.

The U.S. has a homicide rate approximately five times greater than that of Asia or Europe. And 67% of those deaths result from injuries inflicted by a firearm. When we factor in accidental deaths and suicides related to firearms, the death toll should alarm each and every one of us. It is inconceivable that we fail to recognize a correlation between the easy access to firearms and our staggeringly high homicide rate as well as our suicide and accidental death rates.

Many claim that any restriction on their right to own firearms is tantamount to tyranny and a usurpation of their rights. Rights come with responsibilities and with guidelines as to their proper exercise. The claim that the Second Amendment provides free access to firearms without any restriction or control ignores many obvious counterpoints.

One could only wish that these proponents of gun ownership were equally observant of our Constitution as a whole. Many of these same proponents applaud elected officials who, in violation of the Constitution, vow not to uphold federal and state laws they are legally and constitutionally bound to enforce. Many of these same proponents demand that “anchor babies” be denied the citizenship they are guaranteed by the Constitution. Many of these same proponents demand voting restrictions that infringe on the right to vote. Many of these same proponents seem to have no problem when some seek to curb the religious freedom of specific sects. The list could be more extensive, but let’s stop there. The Constitution is not a document of convenience which you may partially embrace.

The titular head of this loud group is Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. Following the deaths at the Naval Observatory he again bemoaned the lack of “good guys with guns” and noted the need for more armed guards at public places. He apparently failed to note that, in the same week, “good guys with guns” in the guise of NYPD officers fired on a suspect and wounded two innocent bystanders. How high would the death toll at the Naval Observatory or at Aurora grow if we had multiple, poorly-trained armed civilians shooting? OK, then the response to that question will be “train them.”

If it is necessary to turn our nation into an armed encampment so that those who chose to bear arms may do so, we violate the rights of many others and risk turning our free society into a militarized zone. Is that their vision for America?

Merely because “control” and “confiscation” each begin with the letter “c” does not make them synonymous. Those who believe that freedoms can be freely exercised without any control shall become their own worst enemy. At some point the majority of Americans who feel their freedoms are threatened will demand action, possibly knee-jerk reaction that will meet the expectations of the NRA in terms of severity. Maybe it is time to have reasonable conversation and reach reasonable solutions to bridge the chasm between the no restriction and the confiscation elements. We can all breathe easier if we do not fear the threat of big brother or our fellow citizens.

Jim Hoffman is a local Realtor and investor who, when not working, loves skiing, camping and fishing (in season). He may be reached at freepressjim@gmail.com.

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