The right to keep and bear arms

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Second Amendment to the US Constitution

I realize that the US Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the individual to own and possess guns. That’s the law. But consider the following bad things that have happened recently. They all have one thing in common – guns.

This past Saturday in Lowell, a platoon’s worth of firearms (i.e., 40 of them) were stolen from a self-constructed gun locker in the basement of a home in the midst of a residential neighborhood.

That same evening, two young men burst into a New Year’s Eve party on Grand Street in Lowell and opened fire with the rifles they were carrying, killing one and wounding seven. The primary shooter already had a gun possession charge pending against him.

In late December, a career criminal who had been paroled from a life sentence he received for shooting someone else, shot and killed a Woburn police officer. The shooter himself was killed by police during the shootout.

In Springfield this week, the manslaughter trial of the organizer of a 2008 gun show began. An 8 year old boy attending the show was allowed to fire an Uzi submachine gun on full automatic. Not strong enough to handle the gun’s recoil, the boy fatally shot himself in the head when he pulled the trigger and the gun pin-wheeled upward into his face.

Guns aren’t the sole cause of these tragedies, but they are a common thread that unites them.

13 Responses to The right to keep and bear arms

  1. Bob Forrant says:

    Guns are pervasive – decent jobs are not. Foreclosures are pervasive – affordable houses are not. Economic opportunity is disappearing before our very eyes and we argue penny wise and pound foolish how to deny young people an affordable college education and a bright light at the end of what has to be a very dreary look into their future. The city council last evening danced the dance of the overmatched boxer attempting to balance two tough problems without any uppercuts or quick jabs to offer.

    First they talked tough about the budget and while a handful postured mightily about taxes being too high, most admitted that absent specifics about what to cut there is little to do but dance around and await the knockout punch coming from more cuts to local aid. At the same time they rightly were upset and angry about the shooting a few days ago and wanted the city to mount some sort of comprehensive effort to improve things. And in the midst of it all, someone mentioned what could be further cuts to the school budget. This would mean the continued gutting of important programs at Lowell High, the kind of programs that help to keep kids in school and motivated.

    We are in a very tight squeeze here and to move ahead we need all hands on deck. Here are a few recommendations.

    1. the city come out now for in-state tuition at state colleges and universities for all kids brought here ‘illegally’.

    2. the city pledge to do everything in its power to hold firm the education budget and not cut further into the sorts of programs we need to keep kids motivated and in school.

    3. the city come out swinging against lenient judges who let folks off too easily for gun-related crimes.

    4. the city come out swinging against cuts to youth-based programs like UTEC that work hard to build a community.

    5. the city work to gain political representation and a seat at the table for its various immigrant/refugee populations and not allude to what happened over the weekend as an ‘Asian problem’ as took place at last night’s CC meeting. It is disgraceful that there is not more diversity on the city’s appointed boards and it is flat-out wrong that councilors continue to defend a voting system that continually reproduces what amounts to a ‘segregated’ official city leadership.

    6. the city should call on Middlesex CC and UMass Lowell to begin now to devise a variety of community-based educational opportunities for young people, summer programs to help kids realize college is an option and to offer jobs to young people NOW. Marty and Carol where are you?

    7. the city council, higher ed and the Lowell Plan should call an immediate jobs and economic development summit to figure out some specific ways to provide education/employment opportunities for the city’s youth and for those among us who’ve lost jobs and are desperate for an opportunity to work again.

    8. the city’s state and federal elected officials need to say something, anything about how to meet this growing problem head on and provide some leadership.

    9. Finally – those members of the city council who want to yammer about the budget need to offer substantive solutions or please stop taking up air time campaigning in January for November 2011 as though you actually have a clue about how really, really bad things are becoming! Oh yeah – and collecting yard waste is not a god given right nor is a sanded street at 8:00AM on a Sunday morning:)


  2. kad barma says:

    It was already illegal for these murderers to possess firearms. The knee-jerk solution–making all firearms illegal-fails to address the larger difficulty that the Grand Street shootings were accomplished without legal firearm possession in the first place. (Much like all those newfangled airport scanners still fail to address the fact that the WTC terrorists got on in Portland where we still lack all those newfangled airport scanners).

    Locking barn doors while back barn doors still remain wide open cannot be the effective solution we wish it to be. Consider that it’s also illegal for the Grand Street shooters to possess certain drugs, though I’m willing to bet they come by a fair quantity of those illegal items as well. Our “war on drugs”, intended to eradicate drugs, merely gives those trafficking in such the extra profits necessary to overcome our best policing efforts. I would hate to see a “war on firearms” accomplish the same thing, i.e. very little, at the cost of gutting our second amendment and removing from responsible owners the right to possess firearms of their own.

    Bob Forrant’s previous reply isn’t always to the point about firearms, but where he points out the importance of programs like UTEC, and economic opportunity in general, he points out areas where I believe we have to do better if we truly want to effectively eliminate this kind of violence.

  3. Renee Aste says:

    I’m not a fan of guns, but if I did have a gun vault in my basement I would have an alarmed motion sensor on the door and windows of that room!

  4. Righty Bulger says:

    In state college tuition for illegals? This is going to help how?d a

    Bob, one of those dirt bags was tossed out of Lowell High school for a year because he brutally attacked another student. You think he wanted to go to college but was a frustrated illegal without the money to do so?

    How about instead of in state tuition, we take that money and build one or two prisons, however many that money will support. Then we load those prisons with every two bit punk who values human life so little that he goes on a shooting rampage because he was kicked out of a freaking party and we throw away the key.

    Wake up people. We’re at war here on our own neighborhood streets. Educating illegals isn’t going to make the problem go away.

  5. Bob Forrant says:

    Ah Righty! We already have the highest incarceration rate in the western world, mandatory sentencing guidelines, etc. and here we sit. Gun control, access to quality educational opportunities, possibilities for meaningful work – cheaper than another jail and a lock’em up approach which is not going to work ever.

  6. Renee Aste says:

    I wish I could remember the source, but it was a few years ago I was watching a documentary on the corporate music industry. Specifically regard urban culture and rap, the story highlighted a young man with talent and he offered up a few verses about jobs and education. Things that mattered. He later noted that corporate execs knows that doesn’t sell, not particularly glamorous I guess compared to gangs and pimping to the average suburban buyer.

    An article a few years back… warning some lewd photos to show examples from the corporate industry.
    “A young female artist broke down at my kitchen table one afternoon, after we had finished a promotional interview. “They’re trying to make me into a whore,” she said, sobbing. “They say I’m not ‘street’ enough.” Her skills on the mic were fine. “They” were the A&R people from her corporate label.
    Stories like this abounded during the transition from independent to major label control of hip hop. The thug- and -“ho”ification of the genre is now all but complete. “

  7. C R Krieger says:

    Last night, in the lobby of my motel here in King of Prussia, sat four gents, two from Germany, one Swiss and one French.  They have been recruited to work because of their skill sets.  My Daughter got a four month job out in Ohio, on a phone interview, because of her skill set (SAS Programming) and two Masters in Statistics.  On the other hand, my waitress at Chili’s has a degree in Childhood Education, but is going back for a Masters in the same area.

    Yes, we need educated school teachers, but we also need people with 21st Century job skills.  When my father was 18 the fact that he had graduated from High School was a big deal.  My Mother was an RN with a two year program out of the local hospital.  Today that isn’t enough.

    I am wondering what the relationship is between economic progress and a skilled “work force”?  I am guessing you can’t have one without the other.

    As for in state tuition for “for all kids brought here ‘illegally’”, I am all for it in exchange for a renunciation of all other allegiances and becoming a US Citizen.  (i.e., no dual citizenship.)  These people would be jumping the queue and there should be some commitment in exchange for that.  It is not onerous.  It is exchanging value for value.

    As for the Second Amendment, I think Kad Barma has it right.

    The City Budget does worry me.  I would like to see the projected costs out 40 or 50 years, including pension payouts and recapitalization of our infrastructure.  Put another way, is there a balloon payment down the road for our actions today?  (I picked 50 years because when in the Air Force I learned that the Air Force Civil Engineering planning factor for facilities replacement was 2% per year, based on fair wear and tear.)

    Regards  —  Cliff

  8. Righty Bulger says:

    We have the highest incarceration rate because we have too much crime and are too lenient with our criminal justice system. Not to mention, our leniency with regards to illegal immigration is helping turn our streets into war zones. We’re not exactly getting the world’s “best and brightest” to sneak across the border.

    Let’s try something new. How about we deport you if you’re here illegally. And if we put you in jail, let’s keep you in jail instead of letting you out so you can kill cops in the line of duty. That’s two good places to start. Much better than in-state tuition.

  9. Shawn says:

    I’m not one for seeing the university/schools as the great savior.

    I know plenty of kids who get out of the university with a degree and no skills.

    The schools are really loaded up (much worse than probation), and they eat up money almost as fast as the health care system.

    When I went to UMass 25 years ago, It was less than 500 a semester when I started. I worked two or three jobs to be sure I got out with no debt.

    Nowadays, whenever there is a new scholarship program or federal education grant, the schools raise their fees and tuitions enough to eat that up, and continue milking the customer (sometimes to the tune of 10s or 100s of thousands over their 4-5-6 year career).. and they still can’t get a job other than deliveryman or Papa Ginos.

    I know you hate to hear it, but deregulation of major industries (such as what happened to the airlines, phone company back in the 70s, etc) is the key.

    Allow multiple networks into a community with little regulation to reduce the cable monopoly.

    Stop putting moratoriums on oil production on and off shore, as well as the limits on natural gas. Let the market bring new technologies forward in its own time.. the artificial clampdown on the market is driving fuel prices skyward.

    Allow more private education choices for families. If parents like the education their kids are getting, who cares what the state thinks of their “test scores.”

    Forget about tax credits for favored industries. Reduce business taxes overall. Thomson Center moved to Springfield because of the tax credit, what incentive do they have to stay once that ends.

    Films get done here when there are credits, otherwise who wants to deal with the union costs and tax mess.

    The “green technology” game will end once the federal money dries up. (I loved hearing that Lowell is getting a $5 mill grant that will “create jobs”.. what happens to those jobs once the grant is gone?.. more government welfare when we can’t afford it)

    And reduce some of the crazy regulation that we’ve put on manufacturing. You can’t build a car for less than $20,000 because of all the crazy rules we create every time there is another accident or issue. The same with homes. $7500 just to connect to water, and then another $7500 to connect to sewer? fees and permits up the wazoo… after WWII, the soldiers came home and built the homes in my neighborhood by hand from excess scrap from the old Lowell Mills and railroads, Today they’d be arrested for it.

    Initiative is gone, government control and planning has driven entrepenurial spirit out of the state.

    The pendulum swing to the right is long overdue.

  10. DickH says:

    So last night a woman getting out of her car at a convenience store on Back Central Street at 5:30 pm gets shot in the neck with a “stray” bullet.

    I tend to agree with Bob that a big part of the solution isn’t just mindlessly locking up punks that engage in violence, but attacking the things that lead them to that kind of behavior, but that’s something that has to start when a child is very young, long before they get to high school.

    While I fully acknowledge the Constitutional right to own firearms, I’m fascinated and perplexed by our society’s infatuation with guns and violence. No other developed country in the world has a similar culture.

  11. C R Krieger says:

    I agree with this:&nbsp: “It is disgraceful that there is not more diversity on the city’s appointed boards and it is flat-out wrong that councilors continue to defend a voting system that continually reproduces what amounts to a ‘segregated’ official city leadership.”

    Getting a more diverse set of boards would be a good thing in this immigrant city.

    On the other hand, no group has a “right” to representation.  But, a little log rolling to get this or that group a seat at the table is always a good thing, as long as it doesn’t head to gross corruption.

    Re Dick’s last comment, while I don’t think the Swiss have a “gun” culture, they have a lot of guns—high power assault rifles—in their homes.

    Going to the Sun article, we have this lede:  “About 40 handguns and rifles were stolen this week from a home in one of the city’s most gunshot-plagued neighborhoods, prompting fears that the weapons will feed a stream already choked with illegal lethal weapons.”

    If the “stream” is already “choked with illegal lethal weapons” what is the economic opportunity provided by stealing this 40, which may have included some antique weapons?  Given our inability to deal with illegal drugs, what are the odds we can control illegal weapons?  The word “nil” comes to my mind. “Feel good” legislation almost always worries me.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  12. PaulM says:

    It wasn’t so long ago that the Massachusetts legislature passed and Governor signed what was then considered a very strict law that would punish someone for illegal possession of a gun. I remember the billboards at the time with heavy-duty warnings. The new law called for a one-year minimum mandatory prison sentence for anyone possessing a gun without a license. From this vantage poin in 2011t, the certain punishment doesn’t seem to be enough of a deterrent.

  13. DickH says:

    Cliff, I wouldn’t say Switzerland has a “gun culture.” I would say because of its unique geography, that country has required its citizens to all be members of the military reserves and as such, to keep their assault rifles in their homes. (Although I’m not sure who has custody of the ammunition). As General Wesley Clark said about the desire of some Americans to possess assault rifles, “if you want an assault rifle, join the military – we have plenty of them.”

    In America, the gang bangers have no self-esteem, no status in society – they amount to nothing, and so they use guns to make themselves important. Then we have those who channel a bit too much “Death Wish” and feel the need to arm themselves in their homes in readiness for urban chaos which they witness in prime time TV every night so it must be true. The reality of that kind of gun ownership is that the odds of someone being harmed by accident are far greater than the likelihood of using the gun in the intended circumstances. To make the gun safe to keep in the home, you make it unusable in a fast-developing crisis. And unless you train with it constantly, you’re a bigger threat to yourself and your family than to some notional bad guy. I don’t want to ban homeowners from owning guns; I just question their decision to do so.

    As for those who possess guns to hunt and for target practice, that’s fine. I always enjoyed going to the range but now I choose not to invest the time or money needed to do that safely. I’ve never gone hunting but I enjoy a hamburger every once in a while so I have no beef with hunting.