Commentary: We must change

I am on the right side of history.

I am told that it is wrong to discuss gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy.

I am told that the Second Amendment, and whatever current interpretation accompanies it, is a “God-given right” that somehow trumps my most fundamental right to life.

I am told that law-abiding citizens should not have their rights infringed.

And I am told of a decision by our President to unwind the Obama-era prohibition on gun sales to the mentally ill. And then I am told of yet another unspeakable and senseless massacre of innocents, and of the “thoughts and prayers” extended by a sizable group of politicians who have one thing in common.

What they have in common is money from what must be rightly acknowledged as a domestic terror organization, the National Rifle Association.  Several years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown massacre, I and my fellow Weston selectmen Dennis Tracey and Gayle Weinstein began discussion of a basic, common sense ordinance that would have addressed safe storage of guns and a record of gun ownership so that the Police, if called to respond to a domestic incident, would know if there was a gun in the house.

The response from the NRA was in keeping with what one would expect from a terror organization. They published our home addresses and contact information on their website, triggering an avalanche of communication and at least two threats serious enough to involve the FBI.

Times and technology change, and so too must our laws and our understanding of what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Second Amendment. Written in a time when muskets were in use, the Amendment can no longer apply to today’s weapons of horror.

A significant majority of the American electorate agrees that our current laws must be changed, but those in power, largely unified by their membership in the Republican Party and by their acceptance of consistent and large donations from the NRA, do little but send heartfelt but empty messages to victims and their families.

After Newtown, after Orlando and now after Las Vegas, I had hoped that politicians would somehow find the courage to begin taking the little steps needed to move us in the right direction.  But apparently thoughts and prayers are once again getting in the way.  The NRA suspends political advertising (until Oct. 10). And a bill to legalize silencers gets put in the back burner until emotions are less raw.

The satirical publication “The Onion” carries a headline “‘No way to prevent this,’ says only Nation where this regularly happens.” We Americans have allowed the construction of a wall of irrationality, paid for by the NRA and maintained by politicians who care more for their political survival than the lives of their constituents. When do we begin chipping away at this wall? When the NRA and its poison money are acknowledged as anathema to our founding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I saw few people celebrating these basic rights in Newtown, at the Pulse Nightclub or outside the Mandalay Bay Casino. We must change.

Because we are on the right side of history.

David Muller is a former selectman for the town of Weston.

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  • Michael Schlechter

    Winstone Churhill once declared, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few,” in reference to wartime service during the Battle of Britain. nnToday, in the context of addressing gun violence, we are forced to reverse the paradigm. Never have so many suffered so much because of so few! The NRA, and local organizations like the CCDL (Connecticut Citizens Defense League – a darkly ironic name, if ever their was one), have advanced a guns everywhere agenda with religious fervor and deadly consequences. Each time there is a terrorist massacre, perpetrated by another citizen exercizing their right to arm themselves to the teeth, the share prices of the gun industry hit new highs, while the gates of heaven are lined again with the souls of the innocent, papered with the prayers of the mourning.nnThere is so much great and good and unique about this American Experiment we inhabit. Our ingrained belief in justice, equality and dignity are weaved throughout our founding documents, historical speeches and pledges of patriotism. As we have grown and evolved across 241 years, so to have how we interpret and enable those principles. No longer is a black person 3/5s a citizen. The meaning of “speech” has expanded to expression in non-spoken venues like the internet. Freedom of religion encompasses the freedom to be stoically non-religious. Equal protection under the law now extends to marriage equality. nnAs our rights have expanded to make traction from the friction of modernity, the Second Amendment stands alone as adhering stolidly to a 18th century concept of armament and defense against tyranny. nnSo, again with hearts broken, lives shattered, and prayers lost on the deaf ears of so many elected officials who are bought and sold like so much chattel, I thank Mr. Muller for his well put sentiments, and wish add my own. nnWe are due, as citizens, the right to pursue life ahead of the liberty to own an arsenal. I’m not calling for a ban on gun ownership; quite the opposite. I’m calling for a modern take on the rights to own a gun, to decide who shouldn’t own a gun, and what types of weapons belong solely in the hands of the military.nnOf course, you have the right to disagree with me, and the vast majority of the voting public. Sadly, the organizations like the NRA and CCDL have purchased a loud speaker to amplify their self-serving agenda above that of the people government is meant to serve, and the most fundamental rights; those of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  • Ch Fr

    Thank you David. There are many earnest people who have conflated gun ownership with patriotism and freedom–and so they have an automatic emotional response against a gun control conversation. They see this as curtailing their rights or part of a Liberal agenda. It’s incumbent upon these people to see the effect of NRA/Republican propaganda on their beliefs and presumptions; to understand that the Constitution is a living document and that they have operated on a singular politicized reading of the 2nd Amendment; to prioritize the rights of liberty, security, and pursuit of happiness are more important than right to arms; to value lives over antiquated law and weapons; and to open their heart and mind to common sense and compromise where there desire for safety and freedom are met not through a society of armed citizens but through a community that values one another and sets limits to the instruments of destruction. There is well-reasoned regulation that will help curb the violence and protect the 2nd Amendment, but you must be willing to compromise and see this issue in fresh, empathetic terms.

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