Enough is Enough
WWE legend Owen Hart used to say “Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.” After the terrorist attack at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, enough is enough and it is time for a change. We all read the horror reports from Uvalde so reliving the instance is unnecessary. What needs discussed is what to do in order to prevent another terrorist attack on the country’s most vulnerable.
Gun reform is difficult to debate because the ability to reason escapes. There are those who believe any gun safety measure is a full throated afront to their Second Amendment right while there are those who want to completely cut out the Second Amendment from existence. Neither side is fully correct but compromises can be made to prevent another attack. How can that be so?
First, examine the landmark Supreme Court decision in D.C. v Heller (2008) that overturned a city handgun ban in the home. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in this case and the significance of Heller is twofold. One is finally the definition of the Second Amendment. In this case, Justice Scalia wrote, “Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.” According to Justice Scalia, the Second Amendment is a civil liberty meant for self-preservation. That interpretation is often where gun rights advocates end the conversation. But Justice Scalia did not.
The other important aspect from Heller is the Second Amendment is not untouchable. The third part of Justice Scalia’s opinion reads, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
The finely threaded needle Justice Scalia performed in Heller does not end the (perpetual) debate over firearms in American society. Matter of fact, his explanation enables it. According to Justice Scalia, the Second Amendment allows handguns for self-defense, but leaves legislating DDM4 rifles, AR-15s, 3D (printed) guns, ammunition limits, and several others open. We should be reminded Congress banned “assault weapons” in 1994. The so-called Assault Weapons Ban was part of the crime bill and prompted by shootings in California and Texas to curb semi-automatic weapon production and sale to civilians. Should this not be in conversation again since the Uvalde terrorist purchased and used such weapons? Perhaps Justice Scalia would say it should.
Second, the conversation deserves logic, not talking points. Facts must be examined and applied to current laws and carefully considered what laws work and what do not. For instance, in Texas, anyone 18 years of age or older can purchase a rifle (21 years of age for a handgun). Perhaps if the law to purchase rifles was raised to 21 years of age for both public and private sales, the Uvalde terrorist would have been rejected his sale and the tragedy on May 24th would not have taken place.
“Constitutional carry” should also be reconsidered in the 2023 legislative session. That is correct, HB 1927 needs reformed. Now, the immediate reaction is the Uvalde terrorist was illegally carrying. Under the permitless carry bill, one must 21 years of age to openly carry a firearm. This terrorist was 18 years of age, legally purchased his firearms, and openly carried them into the Robb Elementary. The only ones who can legally stop someone from illegally carrying are peace officers or those of higher rank. As we now know, two officers were shot by the terrorist in their courageous attempt to prevent more carnage and save innocent life. They tried to disarm the illegally carrying terrorist yet were unsuccessful.
There is good conversation about universal background checks from both sides. If a prospective buyer goes to a gun store, he/she must pass a federal background check. If that buyer passes the background check, the gun purchase may continue. If not, the purchaser is denied. Do not forget, this is only for public stores. Private sales, however, require no background check. If someone was denied purchasing a firearm in a gun store, where would that person then look? The answer is obvious. This begs the question, how useful is the background check system? This needs more conversation.
Last and certainly not least is school safety. The 2018 Lubbock ISD bond aims to prevent what happened in Uvalde in its schools. Elongated vestibules instead of immediate classroom access upon entry may be the model for future Texas schools. Of course, if the funding is available to do so.
While some scoff at the idea of “thoughts and prayers,” I am reminded of Scripture where it reads to everything there is a season. “A time to break down, a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” When I hear/read “thoughts and prayers,” I am reminded of those who mourn. Then shortly, I am reminded of another scripture that reads “…joy cometh in the morning.” At least I hope so.
The time has come for change and the bell is ringing. Will our leaders hear it? Remains to be seen.