Violent country aims at one issue

“Guns don’t kill people.” “Ban assault weapons.” “The NRA owns Congress.” “We need better mental health care.” “Video game violence is to blame.” “Enough is enough!”

We’ve all read, heard or talked about the latest shooting (as of this writing) in Parkland, Florida. While once again Congress and the President are offering their thoughts and prayers, the students at Stoneman Douglas High School are rallying and sending a message to us all. Enough is enough.

The problem of gun violence in our country is a complex one, generated from many sources. This is only part one of what I have to say.

We are the richest nation in the world and yet we lack affordable mental health care, and our representatives in Congress are willing to cut funding for what little is already available. The United States ranks first in the world in the number of guns per capita, more than twice as many as the next highest nation. The video game and movie industries produce violent content that has inured our children to the consequences of violence. Even the NRA condemned them for making killing seem fun. For more than 50 years the United States has been on an ever increasing path of violence.

While our nation’s lawmakers, gun industry, and Hollywood play the blame game, our children are dying – at the hands of children. There is no one solution to this cultural change in our society. This is the accumulation of decades of anger, paranoia, and self-preservation. School shootings, sniper attacks, and mass killing of all kinds are multifaceted problems that need multifaceted solutions.

The Second Amendment gets a lot of press, from all sides. As with most of the Constitution, it is open to interpretation. “Right to Bear Arms: 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.” Proponents of the Second Amendment don’t like to address the entirety of this amendment or the history of it.

When this Amendment was written, our country had just freed itself from the tyranny of England, where gun ownership had been threatened by the British. In order to protect the rights of the newfound nation against this type of tyranny again, militias were set up to ensure the continued freedom of its citizens; ergo, the right of the people to keep and bear arms to form “a well-regulated militia.” The NRA and its proponents insist this means EVERY citizen has the right to buy any type of gun available. America HAS a “militia,” the military branches of our government.

I don’t believe, as do most gun control advocates, that ALL guns should be taken away and banned. We have the right to protect ourselves and our property. We have the right to hunt. So keep your pistols, shotguns and rifles. There is no conceivable need for the average citizen to own assault weapons of any kind. AK-47s and AR-15s are manufactured for one purpose only — to kill people.

“But criminals don’t obey gun laws.” Yup, that’s true. But if there are no assault weapons available outside law enforcement and the military, where will they get them? Currently an 18 year old can buy an AR-15, but can’t drink alcohol. Please tell me the logic in that.

The ability of the mentally ill to obtain weapons is frightening and it has just become easier under a bill signed by our president. I fail to understand why anyone would object to background checks before buying a gun. While that would not screen out all ineligible buyers, it would greatly reduce the number of guns going out to felons, the mentally ill, and minors. But guns aren’t the only problem.

To be continued.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to