The Sept. 1 New York Times report of another random act of gun terrorism (this time in Texas killing seven people and wounded 22 ranging in age from 17 months to 57 years) is a brief but profound summary of our failure as a nation.
It is a study of our failure as a nation to deal responsibly with the presence of weapons of war in our communities and the use of those weapons to express rage at a civilization that worships and advertises lives of endless privilege while actually providing endless disappointment for the vast majority.
Most of that vast majority ignore the disappointments and make do with readily available rewards: family, friends, hard work, community service and occasionally, a road trip to the mountains or the beach.
But a few (mostly young males) take advantage of the availability of weapons of war to make their disappointments and frustrations public. And they usually die in the process.
What can we learn from this brief summary of national failure in the New York Times?
1. There is no rational reason for making weapons of war available to anyone who happens to have the cash and the desire to own one. We have learned far too often the availability of weapons of war to the public is an invitation for the use of those weapons by any frustrated person who is able to obtain one by whatever means are necessary.
2. Some will argue that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees this right. But the actual language of the Second Amendment states the “right to bear arms” is founded solely on the need for the nation to quickly assemble an army if one is needed. But that need no longer exists. We already maintain millions of men and women in duly constituted Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reserve and National Guard units. Any justification for individuals in the public to own or possess a “weapon of war” like the AR-15 based on the Second Amendment, is without foundation.
3. Despite its no-longer rational foundation, use of the Second Amendment to allow the presence of weapons of war in the hands of the public has proved itself a deadly menace to the people of the United States. All private ownership of weapons of war like the AR-15 should be outlawed.
4. The NRA and our elected officials are the biggest single obstacles to achieving the above objective. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (Republican) and the Republican majority Texas Legislature are excellent examples. The Texas Legislature and the governor recently loosened gun laws in Texas, “for the purpose of making our community safer” and “protecting your Second Amendment rights” in the words of Gov. Abbott, who is reported by the Times to be a longtime advocate for gun rights.
5. Gov. Abbott’s statements are absurd under the circumstances. The facts on the ground (the powerful alliance between the NRA and elected officials, hundreds of shootings, many hundreds killed or wounded, and the devastation of families and communities) are overwhelming evidence that private possession of automatic weapons of war like the AR-15 should be outlawed and never sold to the public or possessed by them anywhere in the United States.
This is not a mental health problem, as claimed by Donald Trump. It is a failure of elected officials to act in the best interests of the people of the United States.
Brad Denny lives in Northfield.