Saturday, September 15, 2012

As Aurora Shooting Victims Struggle, Gun Nuts Remain Unchecked

IN a previous blog,

I'd related the sad and sober story of Caleb Medley, father to a newborn, and now still in a coma after being shot in the face in the Aurora Theater massacre of July 20. This was during a screening of The Dark Knight. Though Caleb has relatively recovered, he still has enormous medical bills and much recovery to do, from when he finally surfaces from his unconsciousness.

Caleb's story is one of the worst for any of the survivors, but there are many more. Other victims were also permanently disabled, some without medical insurance, and might need millions of dollars to survive. A man with a severed spine has been on a ventilator. A woman who lost her spleen and a kidney is rehabbing a shattered leg. All are hurting, many need therapy, yet don't have the funds, insurance to cover it. A charity has been set up for them collectively, and has amassed nearly $5,2 million, but to date only $5,000 each has been distributed to the 70 victim families. This is a joke.

It is now two months after the shooting spree in Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, survivors, and we behold civic leaders and citizens are confronting the ongoing victims’ traumas and a future of costly care. Given this future, $5,000 each is an insult and this is after two months. The victims' names have bene known at least that long, as well as the location of their families, so why hasn't more been given?

But then this is the painful challenge that communities across America typically have to face after the national spotlight moves elsewhere. It's also a little-noticed part of the repetitious ritual of gun tragedy, reckoning in the later but inevitably fuller measure of the damage shooters inflict in the absence of sensible gun controls.

Nattering gun lobby nabobs always insist "guns don't kill people, people kill people" but that's little consolation to the families, like Caleb's. The true fact here is that over the past several decades, the U.S., which once scrutinized the use and ownership of guns, has now been gutted by the crazies and their lobbies, mainly the NRA. Meanwhile, craven politicos genuflect to them at every turn. The grim prognoses of Aurora victims struggling beyond the mayhem should be required reading for all the politicians who mouth the same old platitudes (when they serve to advance their candidacies and pander to wingnuts) but whose actions betray their real investments.

In a worthwhile book entitled 'Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right To Bear Arms in America', a professor of constitutional law at UCLA - Adam Winkler- has masterfully documented how guns were regulated from the earliest days of our Republic. As an example: laws that banned the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813, in Indiana in 1820 and in Tennessee and Virginia in 1838. Similar laws were later also passed in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma.

The then governor of Texas in 1893 was heard to proclaim:

"The mission of the concealed weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law abiding man".

WOW! How times have changed!

Meanwhile, Winkler showed that congress passed the first set of laws regulating, licensing and taxing guns in 1934. Though the law was challenged and wound up in the Supreme Court, in 1939, the crazies lost. FDR's Solicitor General framed the argument correctly to the Court:

"The Second Amendment grants people a right that is not one which may be utilized for private purposes but only exists where the arms are borne in a militia or some other military organization provided by law and intended for protection of the State."

The SC decision was unanimous.

While this sane and sober take prevailed for several more decades, it started to unravel by the 1970s as various Right wing (wouldn't you know?) groups coalesced to challenge gun control based on spurious "private gun ownership" interpretations, and successively overturned laws in state legislatures - much like the abortion opponents are now doing (as in Virginia, where its AG Cuchinelli 'read the riot act' to state health clinic adminsitrators ordering them to cooperate with a new state edict to limit safe abortions, "or else"). But we need to know this is how these vipers succeed.

Undissuaded by the gun crazies' arguments, especially that the 2nd amendment granted every man the right to keep and bear arms on his own, Chief Justice Warren Burger responded that this interpretation was "one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

Well, it's good Justice Burger didn't live so long as to see the arrival of automatic weapons and the claim that the 2nd amendment provided for the ownership of those too!

What do we derive from this historical perspective? That the REAL un-Americans are those who have twisted the meaning of the 2nd Amendment to their own ends, with the result that the fallout has created a never-ending sea of maimed, crippled and murdered gun victims. None of this will change until we return to the gun control concepts and legislation common 70 or more years ago, and flush the current memes down the toilet!

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