Who Champions the Victims?

We are better than this

By Kristi Niemeyer

Another school shooting: The 18th in the first two months of a new year.

And the same stalemate between those who think we need some restrictions of weapons that are solely designed to efficiently kill living things, and those who think any limitations on guns abridges the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms (never mind that our founding fathers thought we needed those muskets to maintain a well-regulated militia).

I support the first position, but understand the second. After all, I’m an ardent supporter of my First Amendment right to free speech and a free press – guarantees that are fundamental to our democracy. But I accept that there are limits to what I can say and write, because exercising my rights as an individual can cause harm to others.

I also value the foundation of those much-touted amendments: The Declaration of Independence, which cites “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” as our unalienable rights. A free society is all about that, weighing the rights of the individual and the welfare and “domestic tranquility” of the nation we all share.

Seems to me all these people, slaughtered in our classrooms, or at nightclubs, movie theaters and concerts, are losing out on that promise, those unalienable rights. Who is their champion?

These things are not fake news: The U.S. has the highest number of privately owned firearms in the world; the highest level of gun-related deaths among civilized countries; and the highest number of mass shootings in the world (with three of the worst occurring in the last year).

You can stand up for your interpretation of the Second Amendment. And I’ll keep challenging it, because the First Amendment allows me to do that. But the solution surely falls somewhere in the middle.

Can we quit hollering at each other long enough to agree that our kids’ and grandkids’ right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is in peril because we can’t get a handle on our guns?

We are better than this.

Kristi Niemeyer

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