BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
“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.” This is what the Second Amendment says. To the NRA and gun right advocates, it is like a Bible verse that must be obeyed just as a Christian would obey the Ten Commandments. It has become a subject of debate brought back to the limelight since the shootings at Newtown Connecticut, which led to the deaths of 20 children and 6 adults. Despite the magnitude of the killings and outcry for strict gun laws, the NRA and the Obama administration, are still at loggerheads in their efforts to find a common ground.
This week, the Gun Control Task Force headed by Vice President Joe Biden, met with members of the NRA and other groups advocating for the right to bear arms. The goal, to work on new laws that will ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and allow for a universal background check on would be gun owners, as proposed by the Obama administration working group on gun violence. So far, there is every indication the NRA is mobilizing for a fight and an ad campaign to help mount its opposition to any new law or recommendation proposed that would limit the right to bear arms.
After meeting with the Biden led task force, the NRA expressed its belief that the Task force is misguided on its approach to resolving the problems with gun violence in America. The NRA is of the view that pushing for gun restrictions and ban on assault weapons is not the solution but rather, would want the administration to focus on mental health issue and making sure guns don’t get in the hands of those deemed mentally sick. NRA President David Keene did not support background checks on buyers at gun shows. Though, he indicated that instituting background checks is an area where the NRA and the Task Force can reach a common ground.
The NRA may have missed the whole point. Though mental health is an area deserving attention, it is not the only solution to gun violence. The organization has also attributed killings to movies and America’s taste for violent video games. The point is America is not the only nation on earth where violent movies are watched. Kids in other nations of Europe, Asia and Africa are infatuated with violent video games but yet we record more deaths by guns than any other country. In fact, the recent killings should make one conclude that gun rights advocates may have misinterpreted the founder’s purpose for the Second Amendment.
The right to bear arms as envisioned by the creators should not be seen as the right to unreasonable collection of assault weapons and machine guns or indiscriminate ownership of high-capacity magazines. No doubt every American has the right to self protection and self defense. However, the recent shootings and killing of the innocent, is a testimony to how far some have gone to abuse the Second Amendment. You only need few bullets to protect yourself so, why have a cache of weapons or high-capacity magazines in a home when there is no reasonable purpose? Such weapons get in the hands of criminal elements as we saw in Newtown, where Adam Lanza used her mom’s guns to carry out a massacre.
The NRA has seized on the recent case of Donnie and Melinda Herman, as more reason why there should be no new restrictions on guns. In that case, an intruder named Paul Ali Slater had entered the Herman’s home in Loganville GA, while Melinda Herman was home alone with her two 9-year-old sons. She already locked multiple doors before taking refuge in an adjacent room attic. Slater had used the crowbar to break through the front door and Melinda could hear him coming closer to where she was with her children. On the phone Donnie Herman calmly instructed his wife about the use of the gun they had in the house. Clutching the 38 revolver, Melinda fired the six-shot revolver at Slater, hitting him five times and missing once. With his wound, Slater managed to flee in his SUV which he crashed on the way and he was arrested.
Gun rights advocates have seized on the Herman’s case, they say this shows that law abiding citizens should be allowed to buy their weapon of choice and as much ammunition or magazine clip they desire. The fact is Adam Lanza’s mom was a law abiding citizen who owned the guns his son later used to kill school children and their teachers. This is not a debate over the right to self defense, the right to protection is a settled principle of our law and no one including the administration dare take it away. The problem is there are too many guns in America and there should be some forms of restriction to prevent future harm. A universal background check on gun buyers, is a reasonable approach. It is ironic the NRA is against such initiative that could stop criminals from acquiring guns.
Melinda Herman was able to incapacitate Slater with just five bullets and the argument that she would have been in serious trouble had there been more than one attacker, is disputable. The fact that the home owner fired a gun is a deterrence that could have scared the intruder away nonetheless their number. The Herman case is a classic one of self defense but not sufficient enough as reason to own high-capacity ammunition. Since the Newtown shootings, there have been few other incidents the recent one in a High School which shows, how endemic and serious the problem is.
Based on a Kellerman led research for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted in the 1990s and reported by CNN, people who have guns in their homes are nearly three times more likely to be a victim of homicide and five times more likely to commit suicide. In fact, experts say that having a gun does not guarantee safety, as there are those who own multiple guns they can’t keep. Such guns fall into wrong hands and have been weapons of choice in crimes around the country including homicide.
This is the time to address gun violence in America. There are opportunities to find a common ground and unless the NRA and Biden find that middle point, the problem may never be resolved until the nation is woken to another shooting. The NRA must shed its blind policy on gun control and the administration must institute new gun control laws that will not infringe on the Second Amendment. Failure to reach a compromise will not be acceptable and in such case, an executive order by the President may be right to protect innocent lives from gun violence.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD} is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.