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Columnists

Occam’s Razor

The Constitution protects my right to safe reproductive health, including – if I so choose – an abortion. For now.

The Constitution also protects the right of a law-abiding citizen to own a weapon.

Somehow, in the hall of funhouse mirrors that has become the state of Texas, those rights have been confused. Just asking about an abortion or contraceptives is a crime. A miscarriage – one of the saddest experiences in a woman’s life – is a crime, an abortion in disguise.

On the other hand, buying two AR-15 rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition a few days after your 18th birthday is legal. Killing 19 children and two adults may be a crime, but openly carrying those weapons isn’t. Apparently, the big problem here is not that weapons that only belong on a battlefield to be employed by trained soldiers have been used by a teenager in an elementary school. According to Ted Cruz, the problem is that the back door of the school was unlocked.

According to John Cornyn, the problem is that mental health issues are not adequately addressed in this country. I caution my students when they facilely label evil characters from literature and history, Adolph Hitler, for example, as mad men. How culpable can they truly be for their actions if they are mad? The Buffalo killer wrote an elaborate manifesto, quoting white supremacist credos like replacement theory. Remember Charlottesville, where “good people on both sides” marched down the streets? Only one group wielded a car like a weapon, carried Tiki torches, and chanted: “They shall not replace us.” Were they mad men?

The Uvalde shooter is responsible. The Buffalo shooter is responsible. Parkland, Santa Fe. Sandy Hook. Tops Supermarket. Mother Emmanuel AME Church. Tree of Life Congregation. Columbine. Oklahoma City. Aurora. Virginia Tech. Ad nauseum.

They are all responsible.

And so are legislators for allowing themselves to be held hostage by the NRA and their state’s gun lobby. For refusing to pass common sense gun laws that the majority of Americans want. Shame on Representative Chris Jacobs, whose district includes Buffalo, who caved to Republican pressure and noise from donald trump after he supported a federal ban on assault weapons and limits on high- capacity magazines in the wake of the Tops Supermarket massacre. “I can’t in good conscience sit back and say I didn’t try to do something.” Seven days later, he backed down and out. Guess what, Chris – you didn’t do anything!

Even I – an avid anti-gun Democrat – am not advocating decimating the second amendment. But a majority of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, want sensible change:

Requiring background checks on all gun sales

Creating a national data base with information about each gun sale

Banning assault-style weapons

Mental health background checks

Background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows

Requiring safe storage for all guns by their owners

I would add raising the age for gun ownership to 21, regardless of the weapon, and limiting high-capacity magazines.

How do these logical recommendations threaten one’s right to own a gun? How do these logical recommendations make us less free and less safe as a nation?

Abdicating his responsibility to represent his constituents, Cornyn maintains what the American people want is a non-starter for the GOP. “We’re not talking about banning a category of weapons across the board, a ban for certain high-capacity magazines or changing the background check system by adding additional disqualifying items,” he said. “We are not talking about restricting the rights of current, law-abiding gun owners or citizens… What I’m interested in is keeping guns out of the hands of those who, by current law, are not supposed to have them,” he said. “People with mental health problems, people … who have criminal records.”

Clearly, Cornyn is unaware of the studies and statistics supporting the reinstatement of an assault-weapons ban. Clearly, Cornyn does not realize that criminals will continue to have weapons at their disposal, but that mass shooters do not have criminal records until the day they shoot up a school, a church, a movie theater, or a supermarket.
How does requiring a background check violate a gun owner’s rights? Cornyn must know that, given the internet universe we occupy, we no longer enjoy any privacy. Unless, of course, his law-abiding constituents have something to hide?

How does he justify an automatic weapon anywhere but on a battlefield?

When the families of the victims in Buffalo and Uvalde testify before Congress, I pray one mother has the courage to describe her child’s last morning. How she looked into her face and kissed her good-bye. How the next time they were together, she needed to provide several strands of hair she had brushed that morning to identify her daughter for the coroner.

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