Tags: guns | second amendment | nra | new york

On Guns, Let's Secure Our Liberty and Our Lives

On Guns, Let's Secure Our Liberty and Our Lives

By    |   Tuesday, 13 August 2019 05:21 PM

The Declaration of Independence places “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness” at the pinnacle of the American endeavor. From the Revolutionary War to Civil War to World Wars, Americans fought and died for that noble premise. The Constitution further exhorts government to “establish justice, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

But today, across our country, Americans are locked in fear over a clear and present danger to these fundamental rights. As they drop their children off at school, gather at places of worship, go shopping, step out to a concert, a movie, a restaurant, lurking in the background is that nagging fear that some deranged sociopath will spray the gathering with a hail of bullets. When gunshots ring out all too often at our public gatherings, the “common defense” and “general welfare” are imperiled. Fear displaces “blessings of liberty” and corrodes established justice.

I have always been a strong supporter of the fundamental American rights enshrined in our Bill of Rights, including freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceable assembly, and the right to bear arms. But all these rights have their reasonable boundaries. No one is free to use religion to terrorize others; no one is free to shout fire in a crowded place or to turn an assembly into a riot; and no one should be free to take up arms against the innocent and defenseless.

Balancing these fundamental rights is one of the most important jobs of our government. Congress has been traditionally respectful of our rights, giving broad sway for Americans to pray, say, print, assemble, and arm themselves in any way they see fit, so long as they do no harm to others. And when it comes to the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms” Congress has been careful not to stifle this right, but only to keep it carefully “well regulated,” as the 2nd amendment itself explicitly provides.

As a U.S. Senator representing a state with a strong rural tradition of lawful gun ownership, I often came down on the side of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on gun rights measures. Many of my colleagues — notably including rural Vermont’s Bernie Sanders — also were reluctant to restrict gun rights. But as time has passed and the scourge of gun violence has taken on horrific proportions, many of us who support and respect the right to bear arms have come to see the need for “well regulated” measures to contain their negative impacts on public safety.

Let’s understand, new gun control measures won’t completely protect us from gun violence. There’s already almost 300 million guns in America. Stopping the sale of all new ones won’t guarantee us complete safety from all gun violence. But it’s not unreasonable to conclude that a few commonsense firearm safety measures could save lives.

Today’s mass killings are driven by a social media environment in which glorified gun violence metastases through the internet to drive mostly unstable young males to commit essentially copycat attacks. These mentally unhinged individuals should be prevented from getting their hands on the weapons designed to inflict maximum carnage. We should begin with expanded and improved background checks on all gun purchases, especially so-called “assault weapons.” And we should expand “red flag” laws that allow for mentally unstable individuals to be lawfully separated from their firearms.

While it will be no panacea, we should also look to find a way to limit the sale and use of semi-automatic guns and that are easily converted to fully automatic “machine guns.” Federal law severely limited these weapons in 1934, after the fearsome “Tommy Gun” made its first terrible appearance. And in 1986 Ronald Reagan signed a bi-partisan bill supported by the NRA that banned these “machine guns.”

Now before my Second Amendment defender friends go ballistic, I suggest they go back and look at the history of the NRA itself. It was created in the wake of the Civil War, largely by former Union officers who wanted to improve firearms training and marksmanship. It was first incorporated in New York, and its first training ground was built right here at Creedmoor, Long Island. One of the first NRA Presidents was former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant.

Maybe it’s time we follow the lead of Presidents who won the Civil War and the Cold War. Channeling their wisdom, both our liberties and our lives will be more secure.

This column was originally published in the Long Island Herald Community Newspapers.

Former Senator D’Amato served a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Senate, where he chaired the Senate Banking Committee and was a member of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees. While in the Senate, Mr. D’Amato also Chaired of the U.S. Commission on Cooperation and Security in Europe (CSCE), and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former Senator is considered an expert in the legislative and political process, who maintains close relationships with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. He is regularly called upon for his advice and counsel, and is recognized for his incisive analysis of national and international political affairs. The former Senator will share insights gained from his years in Washington “with a clear-eyed view of the political forces that shape the world we live in today.” To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Maybe it’s time we follow the lead of Presidents who won the Civil War and the Cold War. Channeling their wisdom, both our liberties and our lives will be more secure.
guns, second amendment, nra, new york
Tuesday, 13 August 2019 05:21 PM
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