By the time you finish reading this column at least one person will have been killed by firearms in the US.
What makes you think I’m going to finish it, queries Your Man Up In Pearl River.
Because you notice every little error that my eagle eyed editor, Ray O’Hanlon, and I ever let slip by, says I!
Which reminds me that Ray recently saved my bacon when he noticed that I had bald-facedly declared that Patrick Kavanagh was born in County Cavan. Had that stood, I would never have received another buyback from the beautiful Dympna MacDonald of Castleblayney; not to mention that the ensuing war between Monaghan and Breffni boys could have finally sent Ireland off the deep end.
Since I just diverted your attention another person was probably offed, for roughly 30,000 people die every year in the US from gunfire.
That’s not even counting how many people have new holes in them since you began this column because around 200,000 are wounded by gunshots annually.
Are we nuts to allow this carry-on? I know - the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. And the Eighteenth prevented us from buying booze! So, the auld amendments are not totally infallible.
But let’s take a closer look at the sacrosanct Second!
"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 would appear to me that the maintenance of a militia, and not private gun ownership is the point. And if you delve a little deeper into the thoughts of the founding fathers you find that they desired a militia so that they would not have to deal with the danger and cost of maintaining a permanent standing army.
These poor bewigged and powdered patriots must surely be turning in their graves for not only do we have the mother of all armies but maintenance of it costs at least a buck of every four spent in this republic.
Many people would disagree with this tree-hugging, pinko interpretation of the founding fathers’ intentions but I think it safe to say that reasonable men such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison did not envision a time when any person of sound – or unsound – mind could effortlessly purchase a Glock that could dispense thirty-three bullets in ten seconds or less.
No one is arguing that a hunter should be able to buy and maintain a weapon, though the word up in the Catskills is that Bambi can strut around to his heart’s content after the first couple of weeks of hunting season.
Nor does one wish to limit those who feel that their lives are in danger from possessing the legal means to defend themselves; although as one who lived on Avenue B and 3rd Street – the center of heroin dealing – in New York for ten years, I always felt safer unarmed, there being less chance of me putting a big hole in myself while stumbling home, or having the weapon turned on me.
The sheer power of the NRA and its refusal to countenance virtually every rational form of gun control - including restrictions on owning assault weapons, background checks for gun owners, and registration of firearms – does take ones breath away.
And indeed, if I were President Obama’s political adviser I would tell him to steer well clear of the issue. He has an election to fight in 2012, and may well need to carry some Mid-Western and Mountain States. Far better he wait until his second term to address this national slaughter.
On the other hand, another 60,000 of our citizens will be dead by then, along with 400,000 injured.
The figures are staggering. Surely, there must be some way of calmly and logically debating the rights and wrongs of the matter? After all, men the like of Hamilton and Madison risked their lives to create a republic and provide us with a set of rules with which to govern it.
Surely, there must be some politicians who will risk their seats to question the actual intentions of these giants.