There is no constitutional right to rapid-fire weapons

There is no constitutional right to rapid-fire weapons

By Ellen Ratner   
Published
Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. (Broward County Sheriff Dept.)

As a radio person, I often participate in segments with right-oriented talk show hosts, and I represent liberal viewpoints. This week, I took up the issue of guns.

Right-leaning talk show hosts used arguments against mine, such as, “We don’t stop people from purchasing cars, even though cars kill people.” I replied that cars are meant for transportation, and guns are meant to kill people.

It is true, as President Trump has said, that people who commit these kinds of murders are mentally ill, although in one study less than a quarter of the people who committed violent crimes had a diagnosis of mental illness.

It depends on what is deemed mental illness. Is paranoid schizophrenia the marker of mental illness? Nikolas Cruz said he heard voices.

However, mental illness is not a better indicator of who should have a gun than histories of criminal behavior and domestic violence.

Having worked with the mentally ill, I can say that most people who are diagnosed with a mental illness do not commit crimes. They may hear voices, but that does not mean they go to the local gun store, purchase a gun and murder people. It is not fair to people with mental illness to paint them with the image of uncontrolled killers. Guns are responsible.

Gabby Giffords, who in January 2011 was a member of Congress, was holding a meeting called “Congress on Your Corner” when she was shot. It took her a long time to recover. Although she said she was a gun owner, she is now leading the way to getting Congress to take action.

Gifford said this week:

“Even in our grief, we must summon the courage to fight against this fear. We must find the courage to imagine a country where these massacres do not occur. Our leaders must find the courage to escape the confines of their politics and pursue the moral necessity of peace and safety. Every day we fail to take action, we chose this fate. We tolerate politicians who fail to acknowledge this crisis and vote against our safety. We let our gun violence epidemic continue day after deadly day… The question now is if we will find the courage to pass the laws we need to protect our children, to stop dangerous people from accessing guns. And if Congress won’t act, American voters must.”

The AR-15 weapon is a rapid-firing gun. Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it give people the right to own a rapid-firing weapon. The Second Amendment gives us the “right to bear arms.” However, parts of the Second Amendment are ignored. The full amendment reads, “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.”

Last I looked, Nikolas Cruz was not part of a “well regulated militia.” He was on his own, and he was sold a rapid-fire gun despite law enforcement being called to his home more than 30 times.

Gun laws need to be revised, and the sale of rapid-fire or assault weapons must be banned. It is not only me but also high-school students who want Florida and Congress to act. A student at South Broward High School organized a protest with signs that said, “It Could’ve Been Us” and “Your Silence is Killing Us.”

Students are taking action. Gabby Giffords and her former astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, want action now. According to the website that tracks spending in Washington, D.C., the National Rifle Association spent “Total Lobbying Expenditures: $5,122,000 – in 2017.”

I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to know why Congress is allowing these weapons to be sold. The AR-15 is not a weapon meant to protect households from incursions. It was meant to kill rapidly. According to news reports, the killing of 17 people was done in less than six minutes. That could never have been done with a gun that wasn’t capable of shooting rapid fire.

It is not just mental illness that is killing people in schools; it is rapid-fire guns. It is time to eliminate them and to stop selling them to anyone.

There is no Second Amendment right to obtain rapid-fire guns any more than there is a right to have a hand-held nuclear weapon, which, given our new technology, could easily be developed.

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