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Kennedy: There’s no place for military-style weapons in the hands of civilians

It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the fronts of news, commentary and letters to the editor. So many subjects, so little space.

In less than two weeks, there have been three attempts at mass carnage that have taken more than 30 lives and injured scores of others. In the two most deadly, the shooter used a military-style weapon with large-capacity magazines.

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In Dayton, Ohio, the shooter also wore body armor. That young man, in a cruel twist of fate, I suppose, shot and killed his own sister, with whom he had ridden to the area where he killed at least eight others. The reasons behind this mass murder are still in question.

In El Paso, Texas, the shooter mowed down random people at a Walmart in a misguided attempt to retaliate for a “Hispanic invasion,” as President Trump has put it on many occasions. His intentions were revealed in a manifesto written on a website that caters to those with a terroristic bent.

The Gilroy, California, shooter had a varied list of potential targets and "was exploring violent ideologies,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Fortunately, I suppose, he was only able to kill three people.

In each of these situations, children were some of the victims. All of those murdered were innocent, but the children were even more so.

I’m of the opinion that Trump’s rhetoric continually denigrating those who are attempting to immigrate from Latin America or other non-white European countries has led some to act out in this type of violence. He needs to simply — and I rarely use this expression — shut up.

Trump has called for some increased background checks and some sort of “red flag” statute in response. That’s a bit strange to me since his sycophant, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has had legislation concerning that very thing — passed in a bipartisan but mostly Democratic vote in the House of Representatives — sitting on his desk since February. He has apparently held the bill up since Trump had indicated that he wouldn’t sign it after indicating that he would before he met with the folks from the NRA.

McConnell is pushing for a delay in action until after the congressional summer vacation is over. My bet is that he’s on the phone to the NRA’s head, Wayne LaPierre, almost daily to see what the leadership of that organization will agree to allow. As a major financier of many Republican office holders and potential candidates, the NRA has power that the rest of us who are concerned do not.

Now I’m going to raise the hackles of those who interpret the Second Amendment to the Constitution more loosely than I do. Since it states, in the first phrase, that a “well regulated militia being necessary... ” I believe that if one is not a member of said “well regulated militia” the right to keep and bear arms can be “infringed” upon. We do have said militias, they are the National Guard and the ready reserves. Members of those organizations are well-trained in the use of military weaponry of all kinds. Those weapons, unless issued to the militia members for a specific purpose, are held in the local armories under lock and key. They are not allowed to keep them in their homes.

When the founding fathers authored the Second Amendment, a man and his rifle were needed to provide food for his family and to be ready at a moment’s notice to protect his home and those of his neighbors from attacks by hostile natives, roving criminal bands or English regulars. He and his neighbors met regularly to train in the common defense.

Today, we have no need for such organizations, as we now have those previously mentioned. Therefore, the Congress and state legislatures have the constitutional power to limit the type and number of arms that a citizen may have. I’m not proposing a ban on all firearms, just those which are specifically designed for killing the most enemy combatants the most efficiently.

I doubt seriously that the Congress will go as far as I might like in regulating the types of firearms that a regular citizen may possess. I would like to see a ban on the sale, manufacture, or import, in whole or in part, of any military-style weapon except to the U.S or another nation’s military. I would also favor a ban on magazines for any rifle or pistol larger than an eight-round capacity, as well as a restriction on who could possess body armor. I would also favor a program to remove AK-47, AR-15 and similar military-style weapons from civilian owners — something like the buyback program that New Zealand instituted after the terrorist mass shooting in that country.

Something has to be done!

Bill Kennedy writes every other week from Taneytown. You may contact him via e-mail at wlkennedyiii@verizon.net.

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