Friday, February 16, 2018

Common Sense

Mass murderer, Nikolas Cruz and his stash of guns 
‘Guns don’t kill people. People do.’ ‘If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.’ ‘Every Jew a 22.’ The logic behind the first of these two popular phrases is inescapable.  The second one rings true as well. The 3rd one (coined by Rabbi Meir Kahane) makes sense too in light of the persecution Jews have faced at the hands of fellow citizens throughout history. The argument is that if Jews would have been armed during the Holocaust, they could have better protected themselves and saved many lives. But I dispute that argument in this country. More about that later.

When I am in Israel, I can hear that argument. Military personnel that are so pervasive in Israel obviously carry weapons. As do the police.  But it is not only them. I am amazed at the number of civilians that carry unconcealed weapons. As I am surprised at the type of people carrying them – religious Jews.  While it is mostly Religious Zionists or Dati Leumi Jews that carry guns, it is not exclusively them.  

I suppose that in Israel, Rabbi Kahane’s argument might make sense. There are threats lurking behind every corner. Terrorists abound. I admit to feeling a sense of comfort and security in Israel when I see a religious Jew carrying a gun. (Although sometimes I wonder how many of these gun toters  have actually been trained in firearms use and safety. Or how some of them might freeze during an actual event requiring a quick response. Or worse killing an innocent bystander by mistake out of sheer nervousness. But still…)

What about America? Should I feel that way here? No. First some background.

The reason I bring all of this up now should be obvious to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to the news. On Wednesday at about 2:00 PM Eastern time, 19 year old Nikolas Cruz walked into the South Florida school he once attended armed with a legally purchased semi-automatic AR 15 assault rifle and proceeded to slaughter students and teachers totaling 17 people. With many more being injured. He was apprehended and caught. He is now in custody – charged with 17 counts of premeditated homicide and related charges.

Observing the reaction of victim’s families actually brought me to tears! Just as it did last time something like this happened.

It seems as though mass shootings in schools are beginning to happen on a regular basis. Innocent children are indiscriminately shot by people with mental issues. People like Nikolas Cruz can easily obtain weapons and with ease - cut people down in the prime of their lives in a matter of seconds.

It is my considered opinion that this kind of thing can be curbed if not eliminated by common sense gun legislation. While such laws are on the books, there are too many loopholes. For example I recently became aware of guns being sold on line that are missing a working part and cannot be fired without it. They can be purchased by anyone of any age. They contain no serial number or any identifying mark. The missing part can also be purchased on line along with instructions on how to put them together to create the perfect untraceable weapon. All legal.

Automatic (rapid-fire) military type assault rifles are illegal. But they may be sold legally if the automatic feature is disabled. Which can be easily restored or modified after purchase.

There are other laws designed to prevent  gun sales to criminals and the mentally disabled. But these laws have giant loopholes, too.

All the loopholes need to be closed! There needs to be much stronger gun legislation in this country. The less guns there are, the less people will be killed. Study after study has shown this. And yet this simple truth is ignored by gun enthusiasts and by the politicians in office that support them. Politicians that cater to the gun lobby – led by the NRA (National Rifle Association) one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. 

The NRA is led by Wayne LaPierre, a man I consider to be a Rasha! …and indirectly responsible for what happened Wednesday. As well as all the previous mass murders of this type in this country. I’m sure we will be hearing from him shortly (if he hasn’t already commented) touting the second amendment to the constitution. Which states: 
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. 
The purpose of this amendment is to assure the existence of a well regulated militia. The US has that in spades. Soldiers need to be fully armed. Do we really need private citizens that have no intention of being part of the military to be armed? But I am not here to argue for repeal.  I am arguing for controlling access.

What about arguments like ‘Guns don’t kill people.’ People do.’ True there has to be a person pulling the trigger for the gun to kill. But without a gun, it would be much harder to kill anyone. Guns make it infinitely easier to do that. The more loopholes we have, the more people that will be killed. Had Cruz come into those classrooms with a hunting knife, I seriously doubt that 17 people would have been killed.

It is also true that if guns were outlawed, law-abiding citizens would not have any. But criminals would easily find ways to have them. Which is why I am not supportive of outlawing guns completely. But I am in favor of outlawing assault rifles like the AR 14. There is NOTHING in the second amendment to prevent such a law. The right to bear arms will still be in place.

Forbidding semi automatic assault weapons (which as noted - can easily be converted to automatic mode) will also reduce the carnage. What possible protective value is there in an assault weapon, anyway? The purpose of these weapons are to kill as many people as quickly as possible – a useful tactic in battle. But private ownership is insane. It can only appeal to gun enthusiasts. What kind of obsession is that, anyway?! It is the gun enthusiast that converts them back to automatic mode.

Then there is the mental health issue. It appears that the motive in many of these mass shootings by a young person is  in reaction to being constantly bullied by fellow students.  Their built up rage makes road rage look like child’s play. There needs to be a concerted effort by schools to end this phenomenon. I know it’s hard to detect since much of it takes place on hand held social media. But that does not free anyone involved from tackling this problem. It ought to be a priority.

Administrators, principals, teachers, advisors… and just about anyone involved with schools needs to brainstorm and figure out ways to eliminate this scourge from our schools. But it starts with better parenting. Parents need to be in control of what their children do on social media.

It is also imperative to create legislation that would prevent people with any kind of mental health issue (like Cruz) from the ability to purchase any kind of gun.  There should be no possible way to buy a gun under any circumstances without a thorough background check. Both with respect to criminal records and to any kind of mental health issue. It would also be wise to outlaw online purchases of guns as well. Even those that are missing parts so that cannot be fired!

It ought to be much harder to buy a gun than it is now. If this latest tragedy doesn’t teach us this, nothing will. Unfortunately I believe this to already be the case. Mass shootings like this that have happened in the past – have resulted in nothing.

Nothing will change by what I write here today, unfortunately. I doubt that any politicians read my posts. And even if they did, it probably wouldn’t sway them. But the truth needs to be told.