Stephen Kent

While watching news of the second subway murder to occur in New York City in three weeks, I heard this comment: “Great, let’s ban all subways.”

It referred sarcastically to a second person pushed to his death in front of a subway train.

It was a good wisecrack, perhaps, but bad logic. There is no comparison between homicides committed by firearms and by subway trains.

A subway is meant to transport people. The prime purpose of a firearm is to kill. Banning a subway for use in a bad way is ridiculous. Not so for firearms.

After a week or so of silence following the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, which presumably provided time for reflection, the best the National Rifle Association could offer as a solution to the gun problem is more guns.

This is the mindset of the nuclear arms race. The way to prevent nuclear weapons is to make more nuclear weapons, putting the very existence of the world at risk in the process.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the National Rifle Association, said in a news conference.

The inevitable national discussion on limiting firearms will come down to rights: the inalienable rights which are immutable and the rights granted by the Constitution, which can be changed to reflect the passage of time and the advances in science and technology.

In addition, there are proposals in several states to train and arm teachers.

“Of all the air-headed proposals to prevent another massacre of children and teachers, the idea that takes the cake is the one of arming teachers with guns to outshoot the assassins,” said Thomas A. Shannon, executive director emeritus of the National School Boards Association. “This idea is a distraction. The guiding idea should be to rid U.S. cities and towns of weapons of mass destruction. It’s as simple as that.”

As gun control advocates try to outlaw military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, gun enthusiasts are on the defensive.

Mass killings have given birth to a new field: massacre management.

The inevitable national discussion on limiting firearms will come down to rights: the inalienable rights which are immutable and the rights granted by the Constitution, which can be changed to reflect the passage of time and the advances in science and technology.

The Bill of Rights dealt with problems that were contemporary two centuries ago. A problem at the time of the First Amendment, freedom of speech, was that criticism of the monarch was prohibited and harshly punished.

The problem addressed by the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, is that there was no standing army, no local police force, leaving protection up to the individual.

A problem addressed by the Third Amendment no longer exists: the quartering of troops in private homes.

Things change.

Historian Jill Lepore has shown there are current issues not considered in the Constitution: railroads, banks, women, education, free markets, privacy, health care, wiretapping.

The Second Amendment did not anticipate granting carte blanche for the misuse use of the type of weapons unimaginable at the time that right was granted.

The right was meant to form militias, not for individuals to bear arms.

A society increasingly desensitized to violence through entertainment and national policy has an effect on an understanding of the Second Amendment.

“With regard to the regulation of firearms, first, the intent to protect one’s loved ones is an honorable one, but simply put, guns are too easily accessible,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a December statement.

It is time for our nation to renew a culture of life in our society. Unlimited access to weapons is not part of this life.

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Kent is the retired editor of archdiocesan newspapers in Omaha and Seattle. He can be contacted at Considersk@gmail.com.