Editorial: Let’s talk about the right to save lives.
“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.”
There, we said it. Now let’s talk about it. Actually, let’s do more than that.
After all, we talk about it every time the nation is convulsed by the horror of a mass shooting.
Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, San Bernardino.
This week it was Las Vegas. Armed with enough firepower to fuel a small army - let alone a well regulated militia - a madman used a hammer to break out a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel and rain down his fury on a crowd gathered for a country music festival on the Strip below.
In a matter of about 12 minutes, Stephen Paddock was able to fire off thousands of rounds. He took his own life as police closed in, with thousands more rounds still in the room with him.
When the nightmarish “pop- pop- pop” of his rifles - altered to allow him to fire continuously rather than having to squeeze the trigger to fire off each round - finally fell silent, 59 people were dead. More than 500 were wounded.
Think about what Paddock was able to do in just 12 minutes.
Better yet, think about what he was able to do in the days, weeks and months before his monstrous assault, elevating the Las Vegas massacre to the top of the list of the deadliest mass shootings in U. S. history.
Between October 2016 and last Thursday, the day he checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel, Paddock, a 62- yearold retiree with a penchant for gambling and success in real estate, acquired 33 guns, most of them rifles.
He was able to get a dozen of them up to that room, and then keep them there undetected. Until Sunday night, when he broke out a window and unleashed America’s latest gun tragedy.
Do you think that is what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote those words?
The Second Amendment is not going away. It’s just not going to happen. Nor should it.
The government is not coming to take away your weapons. There will be no need to pry them from your dying hands, as we were so dramatically reminded by actor and former President of the National Rifle Association Charlton Heston.
No one wants to stop American citizens from their passion for hunting, or target shooting, or even - especially in these days - their self- defense.
But that does not mean that gun rights are absolute. That restrictions can’t be put in place. That background checks can’t be beefed up. That some weapons simply should be banned for private citizens.
Who cares if it’s a Democratic or Republican idea. Why can’t it be an America idea?
A measure was introduced this week to ban the kind of bump fire stock that was used in the Las Vegas massacre.
The device, which can be purchased legally for about $ 200, is used to alter a semiautomatic weapon and allow it to fire continuously without additional pulls on the trigger.
At least a dozen of the 23 firearms recovered in Paddock’s room in Las Vegas were semiautomatic rifles that had been altered with a bump stock so they could function as an automatic weapon.
In 2013, after the slaughter of the innocents - 20 children and six adults gunned down in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. - the nation waited for common- sense gun legislation.
Two senators, one from each party, stepped up. Sen. Pat Toomey, R- Pa., and Joe Manchin, D- W. Va., offered legislation to close loopholes on background checks.
They put their political necks on the line. The measure failed. So did a new push by Sen. Diane Feinstein, D- Calif., to reinstate a federal assault weapons ban.
Now Feinstein is back, this time pushing a ban on the kind of deadly technology used with such lethal efficiency in Las Vegas.
We don’t consider it infringing on anyone’s rights to bear arms.
We do consider it a common- sense measure designed to save lives.
We have no interest in taking away anyone’s guns. We want only to save lives. We think Feinstein’s bill will do that.
We’ll start with that.