Yet, they are fallible, for they were only men.
I think they made two mistakes, one by their inaction and one by their actions.
The first mistake they made was one of inaction. The fact that they failed to say anything about slavery was a grave mistake. Of course, half of them were slave owners, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson even fathered at least one child by one of his slaves, and then failed to recognize her in his legacy.
They left the question to fester for 80 years before Abraham Lincoln had the courage to do something about it. The result was the Civil War, which claimed about 620,000 dead and over 1 million casualties in all.
The second mistake they made was to create the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
The country would be better off if they had made no mention of it at all. The fact that it is an amendment makes it an afterthought after all.
The result is firearms laws that left over 11,000 dead in this country last year alone. That is 11,000 killed by firearms, a record of dubious distinction. No other country comes anywhere near it.
The Second Amendment gives the National Rifle Association something to hide behind.
I don’t believe the rank and file of the NRA is behind this defense of military-style automatic weapons and automatic weapons. The average hunter would be happy with a bolt-action rifle and a shotgun, and perhaps a revolver. He doesn’t need a bazooka or a 30-round automatic to kill a deer from 300 yards or more. After all, they do call themselves sportsmen.
It is the multi-billion dollar munitions industry that is behind it all. It has the leadership of the NRA in their back pocket.
The outrageous statement that Wayne LaPierre, the president of the NRA, made nearly a week after the Newtown massacre is outrageous, hideous, cruel, awful, heartless and vile. I cannot think of enough vile adjectives to describe it.
We have enough problems funding police forces than to fund special officers to guard all the schools in the country, let alone arming teachers to protect kids. Besides, what is to prevent us from the so-called guards from going berserk and killing their charges?
How many teachers would want to be armed? I have a vision of the teacher behaving like Wonder Woman — with her magic bracelets fending off bullets of attackers, and with guns ablazing and killing the bad guys. If the teacher is male, then he must become John Wayne, in which the only justice out here is another bullet. How many teachers can imagine themselves in such a role?
Teachers have enough responsibilities and don’t have to take on combat training in addition to the training they already receive. As a matter of fact, combat training should be the furthest thing from their minds.
Moreover, if teachers had loaded pistols hidden in their desks, it follows that they would be found by the students and then they would accidentally be used to shoot their classmates. I heard recently that, for every person shot in self-defense, 43 people are murdered or accidentally killed. I believe that is true in light of the 11,000 people killed by firearms last year.
Arming crossing guards and teachers is certainly not the answer.
I hope the politicians have the gumption to defy the manufacturers of weapons and the leaders of the NRA, and limit the firepower available to the public. I hope the Newtown tragedy will not be forgotten and has created enough despair so as to produce legislation that will eliminate the manufacture of automatic weapons — and, more importantly, the manufacture of ammunition for such weapons. I don’t believe it will have any affect at all on hunting or target shooting.
I fully believe that the rank and file of the NRA will support such a ban and that the politicians have nothing to fear of their wrath.
By the way, I’m glad to see that the majority of us made it through to the 22nd of December, and I wish you a happy new year. I hope the coming year will be better than the one we are finishing, and will contain no college scandals or massacres.
— By Ralph Wiltse, Tribune community columnist