Common sense gun laws are needed
TO THE EDITORS:
The problem with common sense is that it probably evolved out of an uncommon idea, such as democracy or individual rights. The idea that owning a gun is an individual right is a strange idea that evolved at a time in history when there were no democracies on earth other than the United States. The fact that we live in a mature democracy, have very few gun laws and yet experience off-the-chart gun violence means we simply have ignored common sense. Change is possible because we have a Constitution that can be amended.
The tragedy is that nice people are sometimes susceptible to strange ideas. One spin-off of the gun-control debate is the general mentality of stigmatization of the mentally ill. The NRA has been using terminology that harkens back to the 19th century, saying things like "mental defectives." It accuses the mental health system of being broken, scapegoating a federal agency and 50 state agencies with not doing their job, and essentially blaming mental health workers for not spotting mass murderers before they go berserk.
The Bill of Rights was not intended to act as a cover for evil jokers who would kill innocent children in a public school. If the Constitution is not reasonable, we should change it; if it is reasonable, we must interpret it pragmatically.
The gun lobby has been saying responsible gun owners are good people; that criminals are bad people. The fact is, everyone is tempted at some time to use violence. Recently, two adults in Lancaster County were playing Russian roulette with loaded guns and the loser nearly died. Are they mentally ill or violent criminals?
Egon de Uriarte