At the same time, the news on NPR is reporting that the hoped for compromise bill calling for background checks on gun sales sponsored by Senators Toomey and Machin appears doomed to fail.
And then it hits me--I mean REALLY hits me. I begin to cry.
But at the same time I think--what has happened to us as a country? How have we come to a point where a zealous interpretation of Article II of the Bill of Rights, appended to the Constitution, has become more important to citizens in the United States than the foundational words of the Declaration of Independence? Those words are:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...
So, here's my dilemma--how did so bedrock a principle of "unalienable Rights...Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" get trumped by "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."
Among some proponents of the right to keep and bear arms there is a presumption that keeping and bearing arms is more important than life itself. How else does one explain the impending defeat of a background check provision. And, anyway--BACKGROUND CHECKS? Really? So if some piece of information is discovered that says because you are a convicted felon, you shouldn't be able to purchase a firearm, how is THAT an infringement on your RIGHT to bear arms? Didn't you forfeit that right by being convicted of a felony?
One of the arguments that ardent proponents of the absolute right for gun ownership uses is that the recent spate of mass shooting tragedies points to the need for more mental health care. Well, no doubt that is needed. But wouldn't a background check help turn up some information on a person's mental well-being? And would that not be a good thing?
It is hard not to conclude that we have gone crazy. The NRA is terrorizing members of Congress, Congressional leaders are incapacitated in the face of the NRA's terror. Meanwhile parents grieve for the children killed in Newtown, or Columbine, or Virginia Tech. On and on the list of unspeakable tragedies continues,
I cannot imagine how heart sickening a parent of one of the children killed in Newtown will feel, should the background checks amendment go down to defeat. I know I am heart sick at the state to which our country has come. We have people who seem to believe that a background check somehow infringes on their Constitutional right to bear arms, but doesn't think that preventing a needless death is a fair trade.
Now I am depressed as well as sad. Today, the Senate turned down the Toomey-Machin proposal.
And, to add to the absurdity of not calling for background checks, the growth of gun sales on the Internet makes the already too easy access to guns even more frightening--the same New York Times edition that has the article I cited above has a story on the Internet facilitating the illegal sale of guns.