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home : opinions : editorials September 15, 2014

1/10/2013 1:09:00 PM
Editorial: Common sense must prevail over extremists in gun-rights debate

If the people who scream the loudest are allowed to dictate the conversation, 26 innocent people in Connecticut died in vain.

Just when public officials have a real opportunity to honestly evaluate policy on gun rights and gun control, the extremes have shut down public dialogue with shouting and grand-standing.

The National Rifle Association and its most ardent supporters have thrown up a wall of “No gun control. More guns.” The anti-gun-rights crowd have hit back with the equally senseless “Disarm the public. Ban all guns.”

Shutting down dialogue means nothing gets done. Doing nothing is not a solution. Doing nothing sends the clear message that massacres are just one of those things that happen, like a tornado or a car crash.

Doing nothing is a shrug of the shoulders at Tucson, Aurora and Newtown. Too bad for you.

Doing nothing allows politicians to play it safe with their contributors. According to Vice President Biden, doing nothing may also prompt President Obama to draw up one of his unilateral Executive Orders on the matter, which would hardly benefit the conversation, either.

If reasonable people do not raise their voices now to drown out the fringes, the conversation will forever remain mired and dangerously divisive. There will be no real opportunity to address all of the factors that have created these killing fields, including mental-health awareness, violence worship in the American culture, irresponsible gun availability and a lack of respect for human life.

For every person who wants to rewrite the Second Amendment to infringe on firearm ownership, there is someone stating the innocent victims of mass shootings like Gabrielle Giffords have no business in the conversation. Both extremes have shown stupidity and audacity on a grand scale in the public forum.

So far, as the White House forms a task force to engage in this dialogue, Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, both gun owners, have been among the few voices of common sense to be heard at any volume. Reasonable people who can cut through the fear, hyperbole and bullying have to grab control of the conversation quickly.

This conversation right now is the best chance find a balance between our constitutional right to bear arms and the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that was stripped from those victims in Tucson, Aurora and Newtown.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Patience, Mr. Falbo, patience.

Let's be sure we're on the same page: Opportunists are the true danger to the general public and the Republic. We need to keep working on motive. But the operative enemy is opportunists: people trying to cash-in on the nation's initial response to wrenching carnage. Also, we both see that their weapon of choice, their method, is to bend perception of these random incidents toward their ends, whatever those might be.

I can't speak for Mr. Wave any more than I can for you. With this major hurdle cleared in one bound, however, I could certainly entertain the possibility some of these incident-distorters contribute heavily to the NRA--maybe even enough to influence this watchdog organization's stands on guns and other hot-button issues. Please elaborate if you have any information on who these people might be and why they'd want to give Senator Diane Feinstein an excuse to dust off the weapons bans she's been drafting ever since several of her friends were assassinated in San Francisco.

Before you do, though, without being obvious about it, glance back over your shoulder and make sure no heavy contributors to The Tides Foundation are creeping up behind you.

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

"...Right to Bear Arms is part of an 'amendment' to the Constuitution[sic], while the Right to Life is part of the main text."

Ignoring the profound ignorance regarding the Constitution, it's worth noting that a gun can prevent someone who does not obey laws from mooting the life of one who does. For free people, the right to life and the right to self-defense are inseparable.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

@ Frank

Interesting that the Right to Bear Arms is part of an 'amendment' to the Constuitution, while the Right to Life is part of the main text.

Your gun can 'moot' my life.

So, again which is the ONE Right?

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

@ itsy bitsy

Speak for yourself.

You are great at imaginary situation and that, apparently, is all.

I find the NRA and many like minded folks to be exactly, "...incident-distorting opportunists who need to be shouted down before they create a police state any demagogue could control."

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Maybe detente could be accomplished incrementally, Ms. Heartman.

For instance, Mr. Falbo may have more reason to fear irresponsible gun owners than Mr. Wave does, but it wouldn't hurt his position to concede that the more people willing to defend themselves and others, the safer their entire community becomes.

Mr. Wave may have more reason to fear various aspects of popular culture than Mr. Falbo does. However, without compromising his conviction some things need to be reined in, he could acknowledge that there is no evidence violent entertainment creates mass murderers and a great deal of evidence prohibition drastically increases violence of all kinds.

Or both could stop and think about the fact the most horrific massacres in 20th century America were all accomplished without the use of firearms. And the fact no amount of legislation will keep sociopathic suicides from targeting the largest, least protected group possible. And the fact wealthy individuals and communities can buy as much professional protection as they think they need, but most people can't. And the fact there really isn't much correlation among mass murders over the last century.

Then they might be able to discuss actual incidents. Discretely, on a case-by-case basis:

With Sandy Hook, the questions revolve around a primary caregiver's obligation to keep all potential weapons out of the hands of a disturbed ward, the need for/effectiveness of armed security in schools, and a physician's obligations if psychotropic medications were involved. Gun issues are peripheral. Given this murderer's propensities, if an AR-15 hadn't been available via killing his mother, he might have come up with something worse. Would any type of legislation have been more effective than advanced psychiatric knowledge, better judgment, increased security planning, and greater vigilance?

With Aurora, the major question is why a well-regarded high achiever would drop out of college and do such a thing. This was a carefully planned grandstand, not a spur-of-the-moment grab-a-gun-and-go-kill-people. This murderer had the time and resources to assemble his preferred props, legal or otherwise. To the best of my knowledge, he wasn't high on anything when arrested. He didn't have a history of mental illness and wasn't seeing a psychiatrist. No one who knew him recalls any obvious obsessions. He had no criminal record. None of the standard gun regulation tropes applies. None of the general mental health considerations applies. Even "someone should have reported this kook to the authorities" doesn't apply. Given his indifference to being arrested, could the measures advocated by Kelly & Giffords have prevented this particular tragedy? Would anything short of universal surveillance?

Motive is also unknown in the Portland mall shootings, except that (like Sandy Hook) the man obviously intended to kill himself. Would any kind of restrictions have enhanced his will to live?
  More pertinent, however, Portland isn't such a kooky, isolated incident. Although the man wasn't a returning vet, his profile seems to fit PTSD-with-semi-automatic-rifle concerns the government and nation in general should be addressing. We already have a number of underemployed and/or stressed-out men and women in this country. We'll soon have a lot of underemployed, over-stressed, combat-oriented men and women suddenly at loose ends. Ignored, the influx could be catastrophic. What measures would be most likely to defuse berserkers, riots, and whatnot?
  Gun restrictions are the easiest, most usual choice. But in the Portland incident, an armed bystander with a concealed carry permit cut the rampage short in minutes, and Clinton's 1994 assault weapons ban doesn't seem to have accomplished anything except Republican control of Congress. Is, as the NRA contends, rearming responsible civilians a better way to go in 2013? Also, would encouraging discharged troops to keep their standard-issue guns be better than frisking them as they left the service? Could recognizing their added community and employment value help them transition back into civilian life?
  For that matter, would the known possibility of a concealed carry combat vet in the front row have deterred batman? Could one sharpshooter turned PE teacher have reduced the number of casualties in Sandy Hook?
  If maybe, then what exactly do the Phil Falbos have to gain from being less well armed than a thieving murderer in Portland? Maybe they're more comfortable with standard-issue .45 semi-auto pistols and are such crack shots they could disarm Rambo with one bullet. Shouldn't that be their choice, though, rather than the government's? Hasn't a lifetime of responsible service to family, community, and country earned at least that much respect?
  Still, do we really want a bunch of self-righteous, fallible, locked-and-loaded Falbos and Waves swaggering around?

And so on for as far back as you want to go.

At some point, I think both would come to the realization the enemy isn't the vigilantes or the libertines or the government, or even the sociopaths with a death wish. It's the power-hungry, incident-distorting opportunists who need to be shouted down before they create a police state any demagogue could control.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

Personally, I think commenters like Phil Falbo are as justified in their concern for freedom of speech and assembly as commenters like Crime Wave are in their distrust of the restriction, registration, and tracking of weapons. So to me, the basic problem is how to get Phil Falbo and Crime Wave to join forces against those who want the citizenry disarmed and silenced, restricted and disasembled.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

@ m j

I just bet you walk with a limp on your right side.

You, given your mentality, just have to be the Dirty Harriet quick-draw 'expert' in the link I attached below.

Just have to be.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

@ MJ

The Huffington Post is just as credible (maybe even a little more so) as Fox Noise!

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: mj- only so far... .

as those who rely on forwarded emails or the equivalent right wing websites.

i personally love posting links to fox news or wingnut daily that refute conservative positions... not easy given the nature of those sites but so worth the effort in the end...

but you should really try and refute the data not the source... you are taking the easy way out otherwise.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: M J

Anyone who uses the huffington post and thinks that it is a credible source of info has there head stuck where the sun don't shine.

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Anon knee muss

@ Frank

There is one 'CEO' bragging that if anyone tries to take his guns away he will kill them.


To him and many like him, there is only one right: the right to bear arms.

Your right to life be damned.

Here is a hilarious training video for you Dirty Harry wannabes:


Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

The answer is never to take away the rights of citizens, if anything, the answer is to expand our civil rights!

The problem the Republicans are having is completely of their own doing. If they could only bring themselves to stop selling their souls to the corporate fascist elements of their party and quite trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare for the next generations they might be able to exert a little leadership concerning morality and the left-wings lack of it. There is a lot that could be learned from the Libertarian agenda, especially as it pertains to the constitution!

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Here we go round in circles.

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Article comment by: Crime Wave

The recent string of horrible attacks on ordinary citizens including children, makes me think that as Americans we could do better.

Instead of only the criminals being armed, we and our government should make sure every man woman and child is armed by the age of 5. Too many children are killed by firearms, so the only logical solution is to arm the children so they can defend themselves.

It will be a much safer place to live knowing that every man woman and child is armed and fully protected from bad guys.

Gun control, I believe in gun control. I believe everyone should know how to control a gun by the age of 5, and everyone should be encouraged to carry a gun at all times, to protect oneself from robbers and rapists and murderers.

The solution to all this violence is more guns, not less. Kill or be Killed, should be our countrys' motto. Like Charlton Heston said, the only way they will take my guns, is to pry them from my cold dead hands, Right On !!!!

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Henry

Phil observes: "I get the feeling for gun proponents that there is only one inviolable Right guaranteed in the Constitution: The Right to bear arms."

Actually to this proponent you and I have only
TWO inviolable rights:
1. Life.
2. and to protect Life keep 2nd amend in place.

Without these two all other rights are MOOT.

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