For the first time in over several decades, the incident has put the National Rifle Association and the supporters of guns on defense.
However, it is yet be seen whether the Newtown, Conn., tragedy is going to be the impetus to passing any meaningful gun-control law, specifically banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines, which are solely designed to kill the maximum number of people in the shortest possible time.
The pro gun lobby wrongfully believes that the intent of the Second Amendment was to allow individuals to bear arms for fighting against government tyranny, instead of protecting gun ownership in the context of a well-organized militia in case of the foreign invasion, as the framers intended.
Despite championing states rights and individual rights, there is no indication whether even Thomas Jefferson and other federalists were supportive of the Second Amendment for the reason espoused by many pro-gun supporters.
In the 1939 case U.S. v. Miller, the Supreme Court made a ruling that “The Second Amendment must be interpreted and applied with a view to its purpose of rendering effective the militia.”
In 1980, in Lewis v. U.S., the Supreme Court reaffirmed the 1939 ruling made by the Miller court that “the Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm” that does not have “some reasonable relationship to [445 U.S. 55, 66] the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.”
Yet, thanks to the NRA and their hard-knuckle politics and the about-face of a Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, most people seem to believe that the individual right to gun ownership is guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
One week after the Sandy Hook massacre, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA leader, addressed the killing in a hyperbole-filled press conference by defending gun ownership and blaming the killings on everything but guns.
Outside the Fox News brigade and Rush Limbaugh, LaPierre’s comments generally received a swift and negative reaction. Even Republicans distanced themselves from his cold comments.
Yet many conservative politicians have remained quiet, and Congress has been incommunicado about a matter that takes more lives in one month than the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
From Columbine to Connecticut, each massacre seems to have two common denominators — access to a high-powered gun and a mental health issue.
Despite insurmountable influence by the NRA and the pro-gun lobby in Congress, passing a gun control law to restrict assault weapons and unlimited ammo may be relatively easier than legislatively addressing the mental health issue.
Mental health has been the most neglected part of the health care system, is significantly underfunded by Congress and overlooked by the general public.
While accessibility of providers is the forefront of the mental care issue, the legal guardianship of the mental health patients, which under the current laws is difficult to change, is also an important factor.
We cherish the individual rights granted by the Constitution and must keep defending those rights, but no right is more important than right to live.
Therefore, Congress must look at the gun violence in totality and find the right balance between the individual’s right to live and right to own a gun.
We must show the same urgency to address this madness as we have shown the determination to stop terrorist attacks after 9-11. Congress must do its duty to protect its citizens by passing a law that has a reasonable chance to stop senseless violence.
• Roger Adhikari is a finance professional who lives in Tracy.