Op-Ed

Don’t let gun-obsessed fearmongers hijack our nation

I awoke one morning with an epiphany. A voice I imagine to be God’s said, “Richard, you know arming teachers is wrong. You know more guns, in more hands, in more places will worsen the problem — not solve it. You say you have faith, but why are you not exercising it, why are you not speaking up for what you know is right?”

And so, this is it: Forget gun control. “Gun gone” is what we need, except for law enforcement.

When the president and his party want to arm teachers, we’re through as a nation. When their final solution to evermore gun mayhem is more guns, America’s toast. That such absurdity is even given a second of serious consideration is a clear sign that we’ve gone completely off our rocker.

Teachers are souls who love and care for our children. Most have no desire, temperament or skill for guns, nor would we ever want them to. Do they really expect sweet Miss Sally to become a savage Ms. Marksman and blow away a troubled young student?

The one thing worse than gun proliferation is the gun mentality that we can shoot our way out of any problem. We can’t. Only by living with faith in ourselves, our institutions and the high values upon which our nation was established can we secure our well-being.

And we can. Gun control laws work. They save lives and foster a safer, more peaceful culture. Ninety percent of Americans favor them. Most of the world lives more peaceably under them.

But Republican-controlled Washington refuses to reason. And now they’re stuck in a vortex of their own making: The more their resistance, the worse the carnage, the more ludicrous their response. Do they really want as their credo “Be afraid, be very afraid?” What happened to America, “home of the brave, land of the free”? Hint: There can be no freedom in a constant state of fear.

Naysayers will shout: “Impossible, you can’t restrict guns. The Second Amendment won’t allow it — this is AMERICA!”

Yes, it is America. And the America I know, love and was raised in would never, ever replace the apple on a teacher’s desk with an AK-47. This is a grotesque distortion of our true character and foundational values. Wayward fearmongers like President Donald Trump have managed to hijack our nation.

But it will be a short reign. Generation Z will help bring America back. They are fired up with a zeal for truth and justice. From them, and like-minded members of older generations, will arise a new leadership that will reclaim the values of old.

Furthermore, the Constitution supports gun control. The Second Amendment says: “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 key issue is whether the prefatory clause limits gun ownership to the militia or whether an individual right to bear arms exists independently, as if the preceding clause did not exist.

In District of Columbia v. Heller The Supreme Court split 5-4 in finding that the individual right is not limited to a militia. But even then, the Court upheld gun control with Justice Antonin Scalia ruling that “… nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens noted that the founders conditioned the Second Amendment on militia service only. It was a 5-4 decision. Truth and sanity are but one vote away. We’ll get there, it’s just a matter of time.

Gun control is just one part of the solution. We must also invest in a government mental-health care system that identifies, diagnoses and provides services with care and compassion. Another benefit is that we will create many new jobs that will directly improve our greater welfare. Yes, government is good, and rarely better than when our resources are put to high public purpose.

We can make a braver, safer and happier America. It starts with you and me. We, us, the United States of America.

Richard Dawahare is a Lexington attorney.

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