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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/28/08

Just A Start?

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Message Jayne Stahl
A jubiliant, and optimistic bunch, after the high court’s decision to strike down D.C.’s handgun ban, the National Rifle Association used what they say was a “very encouraging” ruling to suggest, in the words of the group’s lawyer,C.D. Michel, that “it was just a start.”

Proving that they don’t let any grass grow under their feet, on Thursday, the NRA sued the city of Chicago over its handgun ban and, on Friday, continued by legally challenging San Francisco’s ban on handguns in its public housing.

If you think the California wildfires have been intense, stay tuned as the Second Amendment posse works to strike down, and undo, every piece of gun control legislation, and as many restrictions, rightful or otherwise, on handguns, and firearms, as they can, with support from John McCain.

But, not everybody is going to take the Supreme Court decision lying down. And, not everyone is going to cower in fear of the gun lobby. San Francisco’s Mayor, Gavin Newsom, vows to “vigorously fight the NRA,” implying that no rational person could possibly think that making possession of handguns legal again, in city housing projects, is a responsible, and sane, thing to do in a city where one can’t even watch five minutes of local news without hearing about another victim of gunfire, which accounts for 80% of all homicides.

Bravo to Mayor Newsom!

San Francisco has a long, and distinguished, history as a trend-setter, dating back to the 1950’s, when poet, and publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti stood up to censors who wanted to prevent the publishing of Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem “Howl.”

It would be refreshing to hear the Supreme Court defend newspapers, and media, by ruling that the government ’s attempts to review, and censor, a “Sixty Minutes” interview with Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich in which he discusses his role in the massacre at Haditha is unconstitutional insofar as it violates the First Amendment separation of press and state. But, the case would have to go before the court first, and the newspaper, and mainstream media, lobby isn’t as strong as the weapons lobby. If it were, an Australian mogul, Rupert Murdoch, wouldn’t be able to come to town, and buy everything that isn’t nailed down.

Good for the mayor for reminding us that San Francisco isn’t just a city that wears its reputation for being liberal like a faux badge, has Nader as its middle name, and is just about cable cars, and gay marriage, but one that will return to its dissenter roots and fight this ludicrous, and dangerous, court decsion whose impact will be felt by the most disenfranchised, and least vocal, among us.

We look to Chicago’s mayor to follow in Newsom’s footsteps, and Senator Obama to keep the momentum going.

But, having said that, you may recall that President Clinton who, while in office responded to the shooting of an inner city sixth grader by one of her friends, by supporting some of the most stringent gun control legislation enacted in a generation. Well, while campaigning for Hillary, he intimated that, when he was a candidate, he was told that if he tried to take on the health care industry, he’d never get elected.

One can only hope that Sen. Obama hasn’t been presented with the same warning and that, should he become our 44th president, he will be mindful, and consistent, in his approach to legislation that will provide regulation, and much-needed limits, on what some may perceive as their constitutional entitlement to empowerment by weapon, and not bow to the NRA the way others before him have buckled under the weight of health care lobbyists.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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