Guest Commentary | Beware the too-easy answer

Guest Commentary | Beware the too-easy answer

By DALE RIGHTER

A wise friend once said, "If the answer you've been given seems just too easy to be real, that's probably because it is."

That wise counsel comes to mind when legislators offer up, as a solution to an increasing cycle of violence in our society, the so-called "solution" that we further restrict law-abiding citizens' access to firearms.

The latest iteration of that flawed theory comes in the form of Senate Bill 107, sponsored by Chicagoland Democrat Julie Morrison. Senate Bill 107 would ban the sale and possession of so-called "assault weapons," which by the proposal's standards means almost every semiautomatic weapon.

For those already purchased, the legislation would require the owner to register that firearm with the Illinois State Police within 300 days; failure to do so would result in a felony charge against that individual.

Not surprisingly, the suggestion that law-abiding citizens would be forced by law, under threat of a felony charge, to register their firearms with state government has been met with strong opposition. And thankfully so.

Anyone even vaguely familiar with the history of the Second Amendment knows it finds its origin in the distrust of government, as is the case with the entire Bill of Rights.

But putting aside the obvious constitutional concerns, Senate Bill 107 rests on the assumption that limiting the rights of those not breaking the law will somehow limit illegal behavior.

No one would suggest that the best way to deal with a rash of speeding on the highways would be a crackdown on those not speeding. Nor would any thinking person seriously suggest that the most effective way to address tax delinquency would be to punish those who are paying their taxes on time.

Yet, that is exactly the premise of Senate Bill 107 — that there will be fewer shootings perpetrated by individuals who are mentally ill, devoid of any moral compass or as part of a gang dispute, if we simply tell others their Second Amendment rights need a pruning.

The true test, as with any policy, lies with the results of experience. And what has experience taught us? In every major area where gun control policies are the most aggressive — including Chicago — violence is rampant. On most other topics that would be, as they say, the end of the story. Yet the gun control advocates continue to ignore the results of their policies.

And while we continue to debate these failed policies, we're not spending enough time discussing what's at the core of the violence that plagues our society.

The stitching that has always held together the social fabric of our society consists of a moral code — a moral code that clearly delineates right from wrong, expects parents to put their children before themselves, recognizes the responsibilities we have to our neighbors and communities, and, yes, understands the importance that love and understanding and compassion have in an orderly society.

I know it's not politically fashionable these days to talk of such things, but the absence of such discussion is part of the problem.

It's time — past time — for community leaders, including elected officials in Springfield, to speak the truth on this issue to their constituents. The moral decay and increasing level of disrespect for the sanctity of innocent life we witness in society are at the core of this troublesome issue. It's not popular in today's political environment to expect more of one another and ourselves.

But that's exactly what we need, and until that day comes, this downward spiral will tragically continue.

State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, represents the 55th District in Illinois.

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