Heads up! This might be one of those "boring columns" because I am not going to speak to the Olympics, although I do send my congratulations to all who represented the United States, whether or not they won a medal. And, Mitt Romney has finally selected Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate, congratulations to Mr. Ryan.
Of course there is the latest jobs report that shows we actually are at 8.3 percent unemployment (nothing and no one to congratulate here). Today, however, I want to focus on guns, gun control and the lack of a comprehensive gun control law due to a "do nothing Congress" and a broken government.
I believe that too often we look at what is happening around us with "rose-colored" glasses, and I believe that is what is happening in our country today. It is easy to hear only what we want to hear and see only what we want to see, making it possible to believe only what we choose to believe. Sometimes it is the process of this "selective" hearing, seeing, and believing that places us in untenable situations and intractable positions. The right to bear arms is just one of those things that clouds judgment with emotions and skews perceptions of reality.
According to the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Even if you are wearing rose-colored glasses, you must admit that at the time this amendment was written the authors were speaking about a "musket" and the "Militia." I don't think they had a clue that future persons would interpret their words so as to allow for an individual to possess assault weapons, or to shoot and kill unarmed persons watching a movie or worshiping in their Gurdwara or Mosque. It is necessary, however, to stop for a moment and remind those reading this column that while we have suffered these heinous acts of violence recently, there are also millions of gun owners who have never shot or killed anyone. But these law-abiding citizens are not the problem.
Regardless of the reasoning of the writers of the Constitution, or our current laws, bad people always have and will continue to do bad things - unless we tighten up our laws as they pertain to buying guns - of any type! There needs to be a data base that allows psychiatrists and psychologists to provide information to the FBI when they see a problem - yes, I am speaking about the "right to privacy" being compromised to some degree.
One of the things the most recent shooters had in common was a history of problems with socialization. In the case of the Colorado shooter, his mental health provider had notified the University Administration that there was a problem. The Sikh's murderer had been released from the Army with less than an honorable discharge and was a known white supremacist who participated in activities of hate and discrimination against minorities. And yet, both of these individuals were able to legally buy guns of their choice.
Again, we see a broken system and a lack of urgency to fix it on the part of our government. Where do President Obama and Candidate Romney stand on gun control?
According to the Aug. 6 Bloomberg Business Week, the president told reporters he would "examine additional ways that we can reduce violence." His spokesman, Jay Carney, when asked about the President's position indicated that, "there will be no new legislative initiatives from the White House and that Congress has shown no sign of acting on the issue."
When Romney was asked about his position on gun control in a 2007 taped message to the NRA's Celebration of American Values, he responded "Let me speak very directly and candidly about where I stand. I support the Second Amendment as one of the most basic and fundamental rights of every American. It's essential to our functioning as a free society, as are all the liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights ..."
I am not advocating taking guns away from law-abiding citizens. I don't want to stop the hunters from being able to hunt. But, when it comes to assault weapons, I have to agree with my husband, Richard; assault weapons belong in the hands of military or law enforcement personnel. The most recent shooters had assault weapons at their disposal.
When an individual can order guns and weapons of their choice, and ammunition on line, that's a problem. When an individual can be a known White Supremacist or considered mentally suspect, I want the FBI to have that information so they can be placed on a "NO WEAPON" list. I realize there will always be illegal transactions when it comes to weapon sales and trafficking, but if we can just do a better job of controlling to whom firearms are sold, we will at least have a better chance of saving a life - a life that may be our own or that of someone we love.
Where are we when it comes to guns sold legally to known dangerous persons? How much longer can we allow ourselves to be governed by a broken government with no legislative initiative to fix the problem? What's the answer?
Have a great day.
Vicki D. Westling is a Dunkirk resident, a published author and an advocate for children and freedom.