Polls show that the majority of Americans want reasonable gun restrictions but fear of the National Rifle Association (NRA) has made that difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. But there is a way forward out of this national dark place. The voice of the people is now being heard. In no uncertain terms, the results of the midterm elections were that voice.
Much credit is due to courageous, dedicated, hard-working Americans, such as the students and grieving parents from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida. Some states are listening to their citizens and enacting laws to eliminate bump stocks, provide logical age restrictions on gun purchases and control semi-automatic weapons like the AR-!5. A light is appearing and through the power of the vote, the change is happening. This is what almost all of us want.
The Constitution is the rock that sustains us and ensures that we will not be overthrown by evil from within. But the NRA has used the second amendment to bully us. The second amendment says, “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.” That amendment did not include the right to bear semi-automatic weapons made automatic by a bump stock that could kill our neighbors. Attitudes are changing, with common sense prevailing along with the power of the vote.
There is much to be done to make change go forward. Our congressional representative, Andy Harris, said in a December, 2018 letter to his District 1 constituents that he would resist any reasonable gun control legislation. Harris wrote that “ If any gun control bills are introduced and subsequently passed by the House of Representatives despite my efforts, I will work with my majority colleagues in the Republican held Senate to defeat those efforts and keep our second amendment rights.“ WHY? What can be wrong with a reasonable approach to a much too often heart-wrenching and potentially devastating event?
Similarly, a recent Washington Post article describes the annual (almost ritual) gutting of the gun control attempts in Virginia by the GOP majority. The January article said that, “Republicans in Virginia’s legislature are on track to kill almost all gun control legislation as a priority including a “red flag” bill aimed at preventing suicide that has been endorsed by the Trump administration and passed by 14 other states including Maryland.” One must ask when a majority of Americans desire reasonable gun control legislation is there no thought of doing that by the elected leaders?
There is more work to do, more votes to be cast. The number of guns in our country exceeds three hundred million, nearly one gun for every man, woman and CHILD. We will always have guns in our lives but doesn’t it make sense to have reasonable restrictions on their purchase? Perhaps we can prevent a mass killing, a random killing, a tragic suicide. Wouldn’t just one of those make our efforts worthwhile?
There is hope in front of us that such reasonable gun control can be achieved through the power of the vote to replace those legislators who worship the golden idol of the National Rifle Association. There are many people in Congress like Andy Harris. VOTE.
Larry Pifer is a member of the Talbot County Democratic Forum.