Letter to the Editor / SOMETHING’S IN THE AIR

By Roger C. Kostmayer

The state of Florida and the entire US is about to confront a public health crisis that costs 33,000 lives in a year, compared to one or two hundred in other industrialized countries.  The killer is gun violence, and our ability as a society to save lives depends upon whether our elected representatives decide to serve the NRA gun lobby, or the majority of Americans.

The police, doctors, military, students, parents, teachers, and a majority of NRA members have expressed their desire for reasonable gun regulations that will save lives.   Comprehensive background checks for every gun purchaser, and a ban on military weapons and ammunition are at the top of the list of important reforms people are demanding.  The NRA vigorously opposes these solutions and their argument is both factually wrong and designed to induce fear: “They are trying to take away your 2nd amendment rights”.

The legal facts are these: The Heller and McDonald Supreme Court cases determined what the 2nd amendment means, and that it applies everywhere.  Justice Scalia in Heller said there was no doubt about the legal ability to: prohibit the possession of firearms by certain people, like the mentally ill; forbid firearms in sensitive places; impose conditions and qualifications (such as background checks); and prohibit “the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons”.  This means individuals have a right to bear arms, and society has a responsibility to limit that right  – just as there are limits on free speech and other Bill of Rights provisions.

Listen to the people and you’ll hear something different this time.  Student victims are articulate, passionate and politically savvy.  People are destroying their guns.  Corporations are cutting ties with the NRA.  Politicians from both parties, including Trump, realize the people are speaking up, including the young, and most are determined to vote this year.  

When asked what action she proposed, a 16 year old Parkland survivor said –  “Rename the AR15 the “Senator Rubio”, because they both can be bought so easily.”