tip off

Constitutional gun argument holds no water

Crikey readers weigh in.

Sandy Hook massacre

John Penny writes: Re. “Rundle: Sandy Hook massacre pivot point in wretched gun debate” (yesterday). Another tragic school shooting in the United States, yet one can expect that little of substance may be done to deal with the gun addiction that underlies such tragedies. After what often seems just a ritualistic period of mourning, any serious attempt to deal with the problem will meet with ferocious claims of a constitutional right to own guns.

Such claims are based on the second of ten amendments to the original US Constitution. These amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, came into effect in December 1791. The Second Amendment says, in full: “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 for those far-off times when there were no federal armed forces, there seems an implication that arms would be held as part of some well-regulated group.

Consider that the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. That wording is unequivocal. Congress cannot legislate against publication of, to use an odious example, photographs of child p-rnography.

If we could question one of the framers of this First Amendment, he (all of them were men) might ask: “What is a photograph?”

The example shows how much the world has changed since 1791. To claim in 2012 that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to own high-powered weapons designed for mass killing is plumbing the depths of self-serving stupidity.

Ways have been found to overcome the limitations of a first amendment that was written for a bygone age. Ways could be found to overcome the absurd “rights” claimed from the second amendment, if only there were the political will. But both the addiction of the gun owners and the massive financial interests of the gun makers must be confronted.

Judy Bamberger writes: So many articles, opinion pieces and letters bemoan America’s “culture of violence”, blaming it for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

We in Australia have our own culture of violence — how our parliamentarians talk to (and about) each other. Whether at question time (as a provocation), during impromptu news conferences (trying to score points), in press releases (trying to look good to constituents and obtain a media moment).

Look at our own letters to the editor, often vilifying those with differing opinions, disparaging the person, talking down the issue, avoiding any recommendations for improvement.

My American-born side weeps at the gun violence that takes away our kids. Whether it’s inner-city kids killed by a stray bullet of gang violence or school kids murdered in their classroom by another kid, their precious lives are no more.

We, as a people, are poorer for that. My adopted Australian side weeps at how easy it is for us to throw stones at glass houses, as our own culture of violence flourishes.

In August 2010, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott promised “a kinder, gentler polity”. This year brought exceptionally little of that.

Please, Australians: let’s be kinder and gentler in all our dealings; let’s start now. Let’s ensure the Sandy Hook kids and teachers didn’t die in vain.

Phil Lusted writes: Guy once again with his writing articulates the thoughts of all right-thinking people.  His reporting on the ground of this latest tragedy refuses to shy away from a horrible truth. It explains the unexplainable and bears witness on behalf of us all.

Daniel Bond writes: Re. Gavin Greenoak’s revolutionary zeal (comments, yesterday). Greenoak points out that the colonial Americans won their freedom with guns. Which was all well and good when the patriots fought a loyalist force that was similarly organised, armed and equipped, but rather irrelevant in the 21st century. The USA now has the most powerful military in history.

The Cold War demonstrated that you couldn’t overcome that military while waving the USSR’s entire nuclear arsenal about, so why does Greenoak believe a few camo-clad mountain men with assault rifles will do any better? If the armed forces remain loyal to the government the revolution doesn’t stand a chance, and if the armed forces decide it’s coup time, they’ll hardly need the assistance of the NRA to clear out the tyrants from Washington.

In the meantime, apparently, we should just accept all of the murders, all of the accidents, and all of the destruction as mere collateral damage for the glorious revolution that will never come. Please, spare us this idiocy.

Oz v Simons

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “View from inside an Australian hatchet job” (Media briefs, yesterday). How dare the un-Australian propaganda grudge sheet try and bully people, including ethical journalists. What do they think these journalists are, weak-kneed politicians? It is notable that one of the cheerleaders from that publication is ex-Crikey Liberal mole Christian Kerr (Hilary Bray).

This is the man who betrayed the inner workings of his party when he was in a position of trust  and who now presumes to lecture others about ethics. Birds of a feather, so they say, flock together and Kerr has clearly found his natural home in Murdoch’s propaganda “newsletter”. Congratulations to Simons for standing up to that lot and rebutting the rubbish that they spruik.

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    CML
    Posted Thursday, 20 December 2012 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    @ Judy Bamberger - While the language and tactics used in our parliaments and news media are hardly exemplary, words don’t kill people.
    Your “American born side” would do well to concentrate on removing from US society what does: GUNS!!!

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