At a recent rally, President Donald Trump, “wrapped in the American flag,” strutted across the stage. He was a spectacle of white nationalist vitriol, smearing as the enemy, the patriotism of Americans who voiced criticism of him.
Trump is not fit to question the patriotism of others. As a five-time draft dodger, apologist for neo-Nazis and racist sympathizers, writer of “love” letters to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, he has no understanding of the word.
With his shameful display of subservience at Helsinki, groveling for approval from dictator Vladimir Putin, he compromised our national security and threw NATO allies under the bus. All sent “To Russia With Love.”
How did a “quisling” occupying the oval office become the arbiter of patriotism?
Failing to heed the recommendation of our intelligence agencies as to the nature of Putin’s continual sabotage of our country, he, instead, separates frightened mothers from their infants and children to ensure national security.
Enraged by four new members of the House of Representatives, all women of color criticizing his policies along the border as immoral, he eviscerates them as un-American.
Seemingly incapable of restraining his anti-democratic impulses, he insinuates censuring our right to free speech and dissent, labeling his critics as “enemies of America.”
Without the protection of the First Amendment we cease to be a democracy.
In Russia, it will soon be a crime to insult the government, show disrespect to the state, or, its symbols online and social media. This is also Trump’s vision for America.
Let them have guns, circa 1787
I am a New York, liberal Democrat, and have been since the nomination of Richard Nixon back in 1968. I am also a firm believer in the Second Amendment and support everyone’s right to bear arms. That may sound strange, so let me explain.
The country adopted the Constitution in 1787. Having just won our independence from a country that would take away our arms and keep us subservient to their will, the Framers, made provision for a “well regulated militia” guaranteeing our right to keep and bear arms, so we would never be in that position again.
In 1787, a well-trained member of the military could load and fire his musket two or perhaps three times a minute. With no rifling, accuracy was a fiction, so the military relied upon large numbers of muskets being fired at the same time.
I seriously doubt those same Framers ever envisioned a time when a hate-filled individual with a semi-automatic weapon could shoot 41 times in a half minute, killing nine and wounding many more.
I dare say, that if they had such a vision, the Second Amendment would look and read much differently.
So, here’s an idea. You want a gun? Great, you can have a smooth-bore musket, circa 1787. Go ahead, no problem.
For the semi-automatic and automatic weapons, hand grenades, bazookas, shoulder-fired missiles, etc., we will leave those to the well trained military of the United States.
See, the gun debate is over. Wasn’t that easy?
More gun laws not the solution
Is there a link between mental illness and mass shooters? There is certainly an assumption, but the reality is far more complex, according to the American Journal of Public Health.
The mentally ill, it found, are no more likely to commit gun crime than anyone else.
Can psychiatry predict which person with a mental disorder will murder? It is far more likely that someone with a drug or alcohol problem will revert to gun violence — seven times more likely.
A serious look at mass shooting statistics reveals the majority are domestic disputes, gang rivalries, bar/party fights, drug deal blowouts and the like. Some media outlets report there have been over 300 mass shootings in 2019 alone (!) but fail to mention that includes the weekly carnage within Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and other cities in dire condition.
Random mass killings, on the other hand, are far, far rarer. These are the incidents that make us question the sanity of the killer, our laws and our humanity.
The chances of being caught in such an encounter are 1 in hundreds-of-thousands. The chances are much higher that our emotions will lead us to permanently curtail the constitutional rights of millions of Americans — without effect on mass killings.
“Red flag” laws are not going to solve anything. Longer background checks won’t either. Nor will another ban on “military” rifles and high-capacity magazines. With some 25,000 gun laws on the books, it is time to seek solutions elsewhere.
Call masss shooters ‘anti-American terrorists’
It is a tragedy that 10,000 Americans commit suicide, another 30,000 Americans are murdered or killed “accidentally,” and 80,000 Americans are injured by guns each year. Maybe the NRA should pay their medical bills.
It is a tragedy that, unlike our ability to make cars or anything else safer, we have been unwilling to legislate safer guns or safer handling or possession of guns. Prayer doesn’t seem to be working very well.
The “mental health” causation is a red herring. The mentally ill are the ones committing suicide by gun, not shooting others. The mentally ill in other countries do not commit mass murder. Hating Americans enough to kill them is not a mental illness.
America is a very diverse nation of immigrants of all colors and beliefs. By focusing our rhetoric on ethnicity or religion or whatever, we only cave to our enemy’s effort to divide and conquer us.
All of us need to change our language. The “white supremacist” haters do not hate Hispanics or whatever; they hate Americans who happen to be Hispanic or whatever. In their hatred, they deliberately kill Americans. If they “just” hated Hispanics, for example, they would shoot up Central America.
In my mind, if you hate any part of America enough to try to kill or injure any particular group of Americans, you are anti-American and certainly not a patriot.
By definition, anti-Americans are our enemy. Perhaps “anti-American” or “anti-American terrorist” or “enemy combatant” are more appropriate labels.
2nd Amendment: Then and now
The Second Amendment, drafted in 1787, clearly states in 27 succinct words, two basic premises: “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.”
I believe back in 1787 our Founding Fathers, in creating this document, envisioned “a well-regulated Militia” to mean an organized military force under the control and supervision of duly elected representatives of government, not self-appointed individuals or ad hoc groups with nefarious objectives.
The second part assumed that citizens, when called upon to be part of a regulated militia in the era of 1787, had a reasonable expectation that they would have to provide their own firearms.
Today’s frequent mass shootings were surely unfathomable to Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and the other members of the Continental Congress. They could not imagine the proliferation of automatic and semiautomatic military-style weapons in wide and virtually unregulated circulation that could and would be used in multiple acts of domestic terrorism and mass murder.
If the National Rifle Association and its political supporters cling to their antiquated and self-serving interpretation of the Second Amendment as written in 1787, then perhaps they should also advocate and be restricted to the use of only 1787 state-of-the-art, single-shot, ball and powder muskets. Give them an average firing rate of perhaps one or two rounds per minute and keep 21st century military-grade weaponry out of the hands of potential terrorists.
Sea Pines vote question
In Sea Pines, we just voted on a referendum that called for 75% approval. It received 72% approval with about 100 votes against. One of those against it was bragging on the victory. My remark to him was, “You won with 100+ votes and I lost with 72% of the votes. How does that work?”
Ralph J. Argen
Hilton Head Island