Regulated rights does not mean no rights

ARNO VOSK

Williamsport

If you are an American who is lonely, frustrated and angry, the quickest way to become nationally famous is to murder a lot of people with an assault weapon.

It’s possible you yourself won’t outlive the occasion, but you can be sure you’ll be a media star for weeks afterward, and will stir coast to coast controversy that will take a long time to quiet down.

The ACLU has done more than any other organization to defend the First Amendment right of free speech. It has controversially defended that right for hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

But even the ACLU recognizes that the right of free speech is not absolute.

You can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire, and you can’t call a school with a bomb threat just to stir up trouble. You can’t slander a person with a lie that will cause them harm.

Similarly, the Second Amendment right to bear arms isn’t absolute. Every state, even the most conservative, has some regulations for firearms. The NRA tries to make its opposition to any regulations appear like a noble cause. It isn’t. Most of the NRA’s money comes from weapons manufacturers, and all they care about is making money, no matter what harm comes to innocent people as a result.

Research back in 1999 showed that by age 18 the average American child had witnessed 20,000 acts of violence, including 16,000 murders in television and movies. Killing other human beings is often depicted as exciting and heroic. Violence and killing by leading actors are usually shown as justified, even noble. Our screen heroes are people like Arnold Schwarzenegger (he has killed 800-plus people on screen), Sylvester Stallone (700-plus) and Clint Eastwood (a little under 400).

Most mass killings are done by young men and boys with no real world experience of what firearms actually do to living people. In my experience of over fifty years in medicine, I have seen the real results of violence. Anyone with similar experience–like the military, law enforcement or emergency services–knows that what happens in a real shooting is nothing like what is shown in TV and movies.

Regulation doesn’t “Take away your guns,” any more than forbidding you to run around your neighborhood at midnight shouting through a bullhorn takes away your right to free speech.

Nothing is more important than human lives.

Innocent lives are being lost all over our nation because of the greed of weapons manufacturers, the deliberate stirring of gun-owners’ fears by the organizations they support, and the wimpiness of the politicians they subsidize.

The majority of Americans support reasonable weapons control. It is time for lawmakers to pay attention.

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