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We the People: For safety’s sake, gun regulation is needed

New York with the strictest gun regulations in the nation passed the New York Safe Act to make it more difficult for a person to purchase high capacity or military style guns after the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut.

However, our hodge-podge of state laws and the active intervention of the NRA keeps accessibility to guns easy so whatever individual states do to protect citizens is rendered ineffective. Determined sociopaths can get a firearm where regulations are loose and then go wherever they want to fulfill any murderous desire.

How the NRA conned America into believing that a loose construction of the Second Amendment was good for citizens is mind-boggling. It was no good for the hundreds of thousands of American families who have lost loved ones to gun violence in the past 20 years. Sensible people interpreted “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” as it still should be interpreted, as a right to have a well-regulated armed militia for the protection and defense of the nation. How did it go so wrong?

The current conservative interpretation was foisted on the people and cemented into place by the Supreme Court after the modern conservative movement made unrelenting arguments to the courts, including the court of public opinion, that the courts, in the past, misunderstood the amendment and that it had to be corrected. However, why would the language “well regulated militia” be included in it if it had no meaning? The amendment fails to include language “individual right of a citizen.” Instead, it actually says the right is “the right of the people” and connects that to “a well regulated militia.” That is the way the Founding Fathers intended the right to be exercised.

Conservatives let the NRA and gun manufacturing corporations fund and push their arguments to reinvent the Second Amendment over the past 40 years until they successfully changed the correct and sensible understanding of the Second Amendment. It is not an unfettered and fundamental right of any individual to keep and bear arms.

NRA and corporation money pushed the agenda and we inherit daily mass shootings as the fruits of their efforts. Senator Orrin Hatch, when he was chair of the judiciary subcommittee, penned a report that claimed the courts were all wrong about the Second Amendment. The Conservative Republican movement pushed its “new” interpretation forcefully, consistently and persuasively until the Democrats just gave up on fighting the issue.

The Supreme Court reversed decades of precedent to enunciate the new and expanded idea of the Second Amendment as an individual right with the District of Columbia v. Heller case. Well, anything old can become new again. If the Democrats elected to office cannot fight as forcefully, consistently and persuasively as the Conservatives and Republicans of post-Reagan America did to reinterpret the right under the Second Amendment back to its “old” interpretation, then the people need to elect different Democrats committed to getting it done.

The effective federal gun regulations that need implementation include: a comprehensive background check (criminal, civil, employment and mental health), a drug test, a domestic violence background investigation, a physical examination, completion of a certified firearm qualification course, comprehensive gun registration, gun registration fees and periodic requalifications.

The regulations must be uniform throughout the nation with all information accessible to law enforcement agencies. There should be sensible restrictions on high capacity, assault and military style firearms or ammunition. The micro-stamping of shell casings to deter criminal use should be included, especially since the legislature in New York has balked on it.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the white knight of public integrity for New York, is rumored not to be finished cleaning up in Albany. He has won nine out of 10 cases against Albany lawmakers since taking his oath of office.

He has been even more successful in winning corruption cases on Wall Street. He has garnered more than 80 convictions and guilty pleas in white collar and insider-trading prosecution. He has set the bar high for enforcement during his time as the chief law enforcement figure in the region but the police officers on the street are the law enforcement upon whom we rely for daily service and protection. Implementing effective federal gun regulations would make that job easier and safer.

The overwhelming majority of members of our law enforcement community spend every working hour protecting the lives and preserving the rights of their fellow citizens. The high-profile investigations of the actions of police officers around the nation should reinforce our confidence in a justice system that works since it shows that the police are not above the law.
We must take care not to allow the wrong actions of any police officers mar the reputation of the 99.9 percent of hard-working officers who may be called upon to be a hero on any given day. Sensible federal gun regulations will make their difficult job a little less dangerous.

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