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Mass murder is a choice

  • Author: Kevin McGee
    | Opinion
  • Updated: August 15, 2019
  • Published August 15, 2019

This August 2019 photo provided by the Dayton Police Department shows the firearm used by Connor Betts in a mass shooting in a popular entertainment district on Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio. (Dayton Police Department via AP)

America’s schools, shopping centers, places of worship and concert halls have become killing fields. Nowhere else on Earth has a nominally functional democratic government have such regularly mass murders. The reason is quite simple: Federal elected officials, including members of the Alaska delegation, embrace the terroristic agenda of the National Rifle Association, which bears no resemblance to the goals of its sportsmen members. Clearly, our historical rights to hunt are not related to American terrorists’ ability to procure weapons of mass destruction.

Think about it: If a self-identified terrorist organization killed a third the number of Americans who are murdered as a result of NRA policies, the U.S. would have unleashed the full power of our military to destroy those terrorists. Yet Congress’s response to mass murder, enabled by the NRA, is to offer prayers and thoughts.

Every mass murder is a choice. It is not merely the act of a depraved individual, but also a political choice to distribute weapons of mass destruction to those depraved individuals. Our congressional leaders should be forced to dig the graves of every person murdered in schools, places of worship, concert halls and shopping centers with assault rifles, because it is their choice that condemned those people to death.

The most pressing solutions to this carnage are obvious. Ban assault weapons and assault weapon imitations. Fully resource law enforcement agencies to ensure they can keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of American terrorists. Close background-check loopholes.

The NRA does not represent sportsmen. Its mutation into a massively expensive political machine, and the corruption of its board, have been well documented in recent press reports. Our congressional leaders are cognizant of this reality, so only one question remains: Will they have the courage to represent voters — and Alaskans who have not reached voting age but whose lives are equally at risk — to stop the mass murders that are the direct result of NRA-backed policies?

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was an ardent supporter of gun rights and the Second Amendment. Scalia penned the most important opinion to the future of the law in 2008, when the court ruled 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court reversed a long-held position and ruled that the Second Amendment did give Americans an individual right to own firearms.

In the decision, Justice Scalia wrote:

“It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like — may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no number of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”

The prefatory clause to which the justice refers, of course, is the one about “a well-regulated militia.” The AR-15, used in many of the most deadly mass shootings in this country since 2005, is an M-16 knockoff.

So rather than saying “assault weapons,” in the future perhaps we should say “the kinds of weapons that Justice Antonin Scalia has defined as ‘dangerous and unusual’ and subject to regulation or an outright ban under the Second Amendment.”

Every dollar accepted by our elected officials from the NRA should, from this day forward, be considered the acceptance of blood money.

Kevin McGee is president of the Anchorage, Alaska NAACP.

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