There are times it is particularly difficult to find a starting point as far as discussing the Constitution is concerned in New Jersey. There is, despite an occasional minor victory, a lack of desire in both the Democratic State Legislature and the Republican Governor’s administration, to address issues blatantly spelled out in the Constitution, it is impossible to fathom how anyone can see things any other way sometimes. “…the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” is one of those. Those of us who believe strongly in the Tenth Amendment generally take the Second pretty seriously too, even people like me who do not own a gun (as opposed to citizens who do).
Just a short two days after the Aurora, Colorado shooting that left twelve dead and nearly five times that many wounded, New Jersey Honorable Senator Frank Lautenberg rushed to his desk with a speed of a man one quarter his age and blew the dust off his old bill from last year to ban so-called “assault weapons” at the federal level. Our Junior Senator, Bob Menendez, was all to eager to echo the call to ignore the Second Amendment. Guys, I know tyranny gets impatient at times, but couldn’t you have at least waited until the bodies were laid to rest first?
According to the Star-Ledger, James Holmes used a handgun, shotgun and an assault weapon with a high capacity magazine. The article, which originally failed to differentiate whether the “assault weapon” was a fully automatic, which is already illegal except for almost exclusively military and law enforcement use, or a semiautomatic lookalike. To their credit, they appear to have edited the article and specified the rifle was a semiautomatic military style weapon. For those who don’t know exactly what I mean and why there is a HUGE difference, please observe the following demonstration.
One area where the emotion gets in the way of the facts is the idea that banning certain guns will somehow result in safer streets and prevent incidents like this from happening, as if psychopaths, terrorists, gangsters or government ag…ahem…other violent types will somehow respect gun control laws. Even if gun control laws somehow kept Mr. Holmes from sneaking guns into the gun-free movie theater, he was likely smart enough, and somehow well equipped enough, to figure out several other ways to kill people, based on reports describing his apartment.
Holmes is no unique case, either. Timothy McVeigh killed fourteen times as many as Holmes without a single bullet. Do we call for a federal ban on fertilizers used in his bomb? The 9/11 hijackers had box cutters and a few flight lessons, and they killed thousands? Do we want the federal government to shut down all commercial flight schools and nationalize the airlines?
Is it possible someone with a gun could have stopped Holmes? The argument has circulated that it wouldn’t have made a difference, as the shooter wore body armor, a ballistics helmet, and throat guard. They fail to mention a bullet does not have to kill someone or even break the skin to stop someone. A person in body armor who is expecting a shot can still be incapacitated briefly.
Now picture someone not expecting it. Could it have stopped him long enough to disarm him? Others could answer far better than I, but certainly longer than the “window of opportunity” when a gunman intent on killing is changing clips after 100, 30, 10 or even 1 shot. So yes, Senator, it is true a duck hunter has no need for a 100 round capacity in a clip. But is that really what the Second Amendment is about? No, but don’t go by me; I wasn’t there. Go by the testimony of another witness to another tragic shooting, Dr. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp.
There was at least one man in the theater with military training, and at least two more with the courage to take a bullet for their loved ones. They might have been survivors if they had the opportunity to fire back. No guarantees, but it improves the odds.
Sadly, the New Jersey Legislature will probably rush to implement Senator Lautenberg’s agenda from Trenton before US Senate Republicans have had a chance to cave on a filibuster attempt. And speaking of Republicans, Governor Christie disappoints when he says our gun control laws are “sufficient” in the State of New Jersey. Sufficient for what? To keep us from defending ourselves in the event of a real need to exercise the Second Amendment? For Lautenberg’s bill, and for any other “conveniently prepared for the next crisis” legislation, our state legislators need to stop caving to the emotions and get to the facts…and perhaps have some nullification legislation at the ready in their desks.
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