Elizabeth Hess/Left is Right: Now's the time to talk about gun control

Elizabeth Hess/Left is Right: Now's the time to talk about gun control

By ELIZABETH HESS

"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."

This is the exact wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, adopted on December 15, 1791.

In 1791, the most common firearms were handguns or long guns that had to be reloaded after every shot. More than 200 years ago, repeating arms were only available for people who could afford them, or who were stilled enough to make their own.

You're still not going to convince me that the semi-automatic weapons made today were what the writers of our Bill of Rights imagined. And for even the most ardent gun enthusiast, who had heard of a "bump stock" before Oct. 1, 2017, when Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock carried out the deadliest mass shooting in American history?

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, and killed 12 students and a teacher, while wounding 24 others before killing themselves. How could these young men have gotten their hands on such weapons, when they were too young to purchase guns?

Harris and Klebold had a friend buy the guns from an unlicensed dealer. How is there not a zero-tolerance policy on unlicensed dealers?

After Columbine, politicians said, "It's not the time to talk about gun control." And then came the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza took one of his mom's guns from an arsenal she legally obtained, walk into an elementary school, and killed 28 grade-schoolers and teachers.

If there was ever a better time to discuss gun control, this was it.

But politicians then changed the narrative on activists demanding stricter gun control laws. They deflected to the "this was a mental health issue" argument, not a "gun control" issue. And yet, in Illinois alone, between 2009 and 2012, Illinois cut its public mental health spending by 31.7.

I have frequently heard Congressmen Rodney Davis say that stricter gun laws won't help. He says Chicago "has some of the strictest gun laws in the country." Yes, Chicago has some tough gun laws, including an assault-weapons ban in Cook County. At one point handguns had been banned in the city limits, but a 2008 Supreme Court ruling declared that ban unconstitutional. The city also had had a gun registry program that ended in 2013 with the passage of concealed carry.

After the Las Vegas shooting, which left at least 59 dead and more than 520 injured, Congressman Davis said, "There is no place for politics in this debate or knee-jerk reactions, but I believe we can have a thoughtful, non-partisan discussion about the facts."

The facts are, among the at least 23 firearms found in Paddock's room were legally purchased, semi-automatic AR-15 rifles. The fact is, he wasn't part of a "well-regulated militia."

Those of us screaming for stricter guns laws ask, "what about background checks?" After an attempt on the life of President Ronald Reagan, a five-day waiting period on the purchase of a handgun was imposed so local law enforcement agencies could conduct background checks.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the background check requirement unconstitutional.

So unless you need a rifle to hunt for food because you need to feed your family, you don't need an arsenal of weapons. For those of you who point to the Second Amendment and your "right to bear arms," it was written more than 200 years ago. Until we do more to filter who gets guns and how mentally stable they are to have them, I'm not buying it.

Elizabeth Hess is co-host of "The DWS Morning Show" on NewsTalk 1400 WDWS, a News-Gazette Media radio station. Her email is ehess@wdws.com.

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GLG wrote on December 04, 2017 at 7:12 pm

Maybe you can ask your frequent guest Sen. Dick Durbin why the Democrats didn't do something when they were in control. I know Durbin demands a list of questions a week before so he can do his home work and not come across as not being very well informed. You should just come out and ask him. You know if you did it would be the end of the "gab fest" Staring Durbin,You ,and Dave.