Helen of Marlowe's Blog

The Right to Avoid the Presence of Guns

Posted in "North Carolina" by helenofmarlowe on July 2, 2015

E. J. Dionne says “we need to insist on protecting the rights of Americans who do not want to be anywhere near guns.” Lots of us have been thinking that for a long time, but maybe we needed someone of prominence to articulate it. But, as Dionne goes on to say, as long as the National Rifle association and its allies claim a monopoly on arguments about individual rights, reasonable gun regulations will be ground to death by the Washington Obstruction Machine. We need, as Dionne says, a public service offensive on behalf of the health and safety of all of us.

Dionne quotes Guy Molyneaux , “The evidence is overwhelming that having a gun in your home increases the risks of suicide, domestic violence and fatal accidents, and yet the number one reason given for gun purchases is ‘personal safety.’ We need a public health campaign on the dangers of gun ownership, similar to the successful efforts against smoking and drunk driving.”

The NRA has kept the conversation focused on “rights” – the “rights” of Americans to own guns. No one has succeeded in changing the conversation to talk about the rights of those of us who want to walk and shop and attend meetings in gun-free places. Who will speak for parents who want to take their children to play in a local park, but don’t want their children playing in the presence of guns?  Kids in our country are at least sixteen times more likely to be killed in unintended shootings than in other advanced countries. The NRA positions itself as a defender of freedom, and yet they even curtail the freedom of medical practitioners with their “physician gag rule” which punishes doctors who talk to their patients about gun safety.

The NRA positions itself as a defender of rights, and yet wants to curtail the right of restaurant owners to ban guns from their own restaurants.  They say that owners of bars where alcohol is the main course should not be allowed to restrict guns.   And they get a pass on their Orwellian claim that they are the defenders of individual freedoms.

I hope E.J. Dionne’s recent column in The Washington Post will start a new conversation, one about the rights of people who want to go about their lives without being surrounded by guns. The American conversation about guns does not have to be about what the 2nd Amendment means, it does not have to be about whether our constitution allows you to have a gun, but about whether you should have a gun.

As Molyneux said. “This is not about the government saying you cannot own a handgun. This is about society saying you should not have a gun, especially in a home with children.”

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Under-Ocean Travels By Way Of the 2nd and 14th Amendments . . .

Posted in Politics by helenofmarlowe on October 17, 2013

. . . For a Vorsteg Family Reunion

Last week we traveled (twice!) over and through  one of the Seven Man-made Wonders of the World.     

But at the time, I didn’t know that. I just thought we were driving through a scary under-sea highway in the middle of a 28-mile bridge on a very windy day (20 mph, gusts at 28 mph).  Later, in our Virginia Beach Hampton Inn room, I learned from wikipedia of the interesting history of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. While driving the tunnel, it did not occur to us to wonder how it looked from above. But now, thanks to google, we know:

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

So, we have just returned from a drive from western NC to Virginia’s outer banks, for a Vorsteg family reunion at David & Molly’s vacation home (photo top right).  We had planned to visit some national wildlife refuges, including The Great Dismal Swamp, but all the national parks were closed for our latest infamous government shutdown.  We did get to the Wild Fowl museum in Virginia Beach, and the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, which are state run and hence were open. NorfolkBotGrd  We went to Chincoteague, but missed the ponies.  The best part was seeing Bob’s brothers and sisters, and some extended family.

All of which got me to thinking about those Republicans who shut down the government, whose major goal – in their own words – was to make sure the Obama Administration fails. For the most part, those are the same Republicans who insist that any regulation on guns in America is a violation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Would that they were as loyal to the 14th amendment.

But – in the Second Amendment, the word “gun” is never used. 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.”

Nothing there about guns. Should we be able to carry hand-grenades into parks and playgrounds? Is prohibiting box-cutters on airplanes an infringement of our right to bear arms? Should I be allowed to keep and bear a jar of anthrax for my protection against gun-slingers? Who decided that the 2nd amendment’s reference to “arms” applies only to guns? Can’t be because that was the kind of arms people used in those days.

Next time I hear one of these almost-always-Republican self-appointed constitutionalists from the tea party defend the 2nd amendment, I’ll ask them if they also believe in defending the Fourteenth.

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions … shall not be questioned.

And I would like to see  President Obama  just tell the world that, since our constitution requires it, he will promise to pay the bills.  I hope he will do that next time.

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