The current push in Congress to ban "bump stocks" is a purely cosmetic, politically motivated, and virtually meaningless exercise in face-saving by a Congress which has for decades put gun lobby interests ahead of public safety.
For the record, bump stocks were a perfectly foreseeable consequence of a deregulated gun industry. The watchword for decades, firearms regulation in America has been hands-off. In that climate, workarounds like bump stocks, which are intended as a means to circumvent the law, flourish.
All of which totally misses the bigger question of military weapons in a civil society. Equally to blame for the current crisis of gun violence are the conservative members of the Supreme Court. Their rulings on Second Amendment cases in recent decades have been as categorically politically motivated as they have been constitutionally meritless.
The Second Amendment is and was from its inception what it was intended to be -- a political instrument, not a legal one. Who in the world, by reading the Second Amendment, could know whether it allows the common citizen to possess or carry a pocket knife or a nuclear bomb?
A hyper-literal reading of the Second Amendment might suggest that any citizen is allowed to possess and/or carry any "Arm(s)" of any description at any time. The lawmakers and the courts have really done as they pleased with regard to the Second Amendment over the years, hewing more to social trends and political climates than to a statute so ambiguous as to be legally inert.
Supporting arguments by the Supreme Court's conservative justices in the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling border on incoherence -- in fact, they do more to disprove their conclusions than support them. They're pure gibberish. They admit on one hand that laws can be enacted that limit the right to keep and bear "firearms," but then they conclude that the right to keep firearms is absolute, but that doesn't extend to other armaments with greater killing power because they know it doesn't. Ignoring entirely the actual text of the Second Amendment, which, read literally, neither addresses nor supports any of their findings.
Congress and the conservative members of the Supreme Court currently seem to adopt the position of the gun lobby: "Weapons with a lethality capacity up to and including that of a semi-automatic assault rifle are ok, but weapons possessing greater killing capacity are not." But none of that is even remotely addressed in the Second Amendment's language.
Traditionally, the courts have found that restrictions can be imposed on the type of "arms" that American citizens can possess. That's a good thing. Does anyone really believe that if average citizens were allowed to purchase Howitzers some individuals would not do so? Or for that matter a nuclear bomb? Make no mistake, if available for sale to the public, those weapons would be purchased by some people. You can be sure.
We keep hearing comparisons between gun violence in America and in other "civilized" or "developed" nations. As though the United States is somehow automatically entitled to be viewed in those terms. The reality, however, is that no other nation on earth has anywhere near as many firearms or firearm-related deaths per capita as we do. America stands alone in this disgrace, separate from all other nations.
In 1994, Congress passed and President Clinton signed a federal ban on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The ban was allowed to expire 10 years later under the administration of George W. Bush. Since that time, the incidents of mass shootings have skyrocketed.
Public pressure on lawmakers would quickly and surely restore the ban. Now IS the time. Steven Paddock shot 500 people in 12 minutes. This is a clarion call to defend the nation from an immediate and growing threat. The country must act to restore order, even if the lawmakers and the courts lack the courage.
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