Weapons of destruction

In Editorials

Thanks to the National Rifle Association’s indefatigable
lobbying, the federal assault weapon ban expires today.

For the first time in 10 years, Americans can legally purchase 19
ludicrously lethal weapons, with high-capacity ammunition clips to
match.

This is a pernicious development for a number of reasons, not the
least of which being that the policy was an overwhelming
success.

Federal statistics reveal that crimes perpetrated with the aid of
the banned weapons – which included Tec-9s and Uzis –
were down by more than 60 percent since former President Clinton
signed it into law.

What we find most contemptible is the mendacity by which the
assault weapons ban was attacked. The bill’s now-victorious
opponents speciously wrap themselves in the Second Amendment.
Corporate interests, ranging from gun-manufacturers to dealers
have, with the help of the NRA, painted their profit-hungry cause
as one of freedom-loving patriots and hunters.

The Bill of Rights authors would be aghast to see the molestation
of their hallowed document.

Over subsequent generations, American legislators have learned the
bill’s ultimate virtue: the flexibility and breadth which
allows contemporary wisdom the autonomy to work with, not just
within, the Bill of Rights.

Literal interpretations are dangerous, as former Supreme Court
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously articulated with his
admonishment of First Amendment freedoms.

The First Amendment does not, Holmes said, grant citizens the right
to “shout fire in a crowded theater;” some speech may
be restricted if it presents imminent danger.

The same theory applies to the Second Amendment, which grants
citizens “the right to bear arms,” and makes no further
distinction.

Taken literally, the Second Amendment would permit citizens to
stockpile bazookas and warheads. Of course, no one finds that
sensible.

We don’t find the idea of anyone being able to purchase
AK-47s to be sensible either.

Proliferation of profusely deadly weapons is only good for
manufacturers’ pockets.

Given the amount of weapons being used in America’s foreign
military engagements, haven’t those who produce killing
machines gotten rich enough?

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