Pat Griffith: Gun violence more than just a Second Amendment issue

In 1969 I was the age of the students in Parkland who were massacred on Valentine’s Day. My friends and I didn’t fear for our safety in school or in the community we lived in. Mass shootings were unthinkable. The NRA promoted gun safety and sporting competition. As a youngster I attended their gun safety class. I learned how to handle a gun safely and they gave me a neat little card with my name on it. I had a fun time.

So what the hell happened? When did the NRA start giving the politicians millions of dollars to promote a false notion of the Second Amendment?

They lied to me. They told me if assault weapons are restricted, the gun in my night stand to protect my home is next. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water! As the students say in Parkland, “BS!”

They lied to me. They told me unfettered access to firearms is our “heritage.” Again, I say BS! Their interpretation of the Second Amendment is a 21st century phenomenon. Prior to 2008, our society accepted common sense regulation of firearms for our safety. The NRA, our courts, our Congress, and our citizens abandoned that common sense approach in favor of a liberal legalistic interpretation of the Second Amendment. This intellectual judicial experimentation toward gun regulation has failed us all.

Many who ascribe to this modern notion are now promoting arming teachers and making them responsible for protecting the students. I actually heard a politician discuss arming students! This isn’t what our educators trained for and it’s not what the students signed up for. This is not a common sense approach. Again, I echo the students who saw their friends die, BS!

Last year saw the most devastating loss of life from mass shootings in the country’s history. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as four or more deaths, not including the shooter. Current statistics on gun violence worldwide are being reported in the media as they always are following one of these avoidable tragedies. They basically point out the more guns in a society, the more gun violence. This is real. It’s frightening. And it’s unnecessary.

When a parent loses a child it’s profound. There’s no closure. No healing. Your heart breaks forever. You would do anything in your power for another chance to keep them safe.

They lied to me. By my reading of the Second Amendment this dire situation we find ourselves in isn’t a Second Amendment issue. It’s a safety issue. Kids being slaughtered in school isn’t part of our “heritage.” It’s a life and death issue. When we read the Second Amendment, we need to read the whole sentence. Not just the part we like. Yes, it’s only one sentence, one contiguous idea.

The Second Amendment reads: “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.”

When James Madison authored the Second Amendment it was in the context of a new government with no real standing army. To ignore the 18th century concerns of the author is to ignore our 21st century reality.

Kudos to the students speaking out in Parkland. They know better than anyone. They’re the latest witnesses and victims of gun violence. The kids are right. We’re wrong. This is their world, not ours. The politicians should be fearful of losing their privileged stations. These students will be voting soon. Some this year. Many more by 2020.

When I look back on that optimistic summer in 1969, I can only hope these young citizens persevere with more tenacity than we did. I’m sorry we didn’t keep you safe.

Pat Griffith is a Carson City resident.


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