Recent violence, consequences, and our Constitution

There have been many public acts of violence recently. The Aurora, Colorado theater shootings and the Sandy Hook Elementary School are the two that come to mind for me – Aurora because it happened in my back yard (figuratively speaking) and Sandy Hook Elementary because it happened mere days ago. This also reminds me of another shooting that happened many years ago, ironically on December 14, like the Sandy Hook shooting. This past shooting took the life of the a sweet young lady who we had used as a baby sitter on several occasions, she was the sister of my wife’s close friend and the daughter of good friends of mine.

I find these acts of violence abhorrent, and take comfort in knowing that the perpetrators will be held accountable, if not in this life, then surely in the next. What I also find disgusting is the focus the media places on those responsible for such horrific acts. Ask people familiar with the Chuck E Cheese shooting, and many will be able to recall the name of Nathan Dunlap, the shooter. How many people remember any of the victims, like our babysitter Sylvia? How many people can tell you the last names of the Columbine High School shooters from 10+ years ago? How many names of the victims are remembered?

Why is this? I believe it is because of the attention the media places on these perpetrators. They become sensationalized and household names. Those sick and deranged people who pull off these acts of violence typically have other villains whom they have idolized. Klebold and Harris were fascinated with Hitler, and shot up Columbine High School on the anniversary of Hitler’s death. Who knows how many of these people decided to pull off their acts of violence after seeing reports of other violent events? Are they trying to be more sensational than their predecessors?

How much is said about the mental health of these violent individuals? Surely one must have something going wrong in their brain if they decide to take several lives of innocent people without provocation nor warning. As almost a side thought, our local newspaper mentioned that the Sandy Hook shooter may have had a form of autism. If you have heard of the shooting, have you heard of this kid’s mental deficit? The blame and focus of these events typically turns to the devices used to kill their victims. Guns and lawful gun owners then become the target of new and tougher legislation, because obviously guns are the cause of this violence.

Using this same line of thinking, I propose we put the same scrutiny on other methods used in mass murders in the recent past. Oklahoma City in the 1990’s saw the slaying of many, including children in a day care facility. We should therefore place restrictions or perhaps outright bans on fertilizers, household chemicals, and UHaul trucks. September 11, 2001 – I don’t need to recount details of this infamous day – but using this same line of thinking, I think we need to restrict access to or ban the use of commercial aircraft. With this same date in mind, I think we should also outlaw box cutters, as they were allegedly used by those who flew the aircraft into buildings. Last year in a suburb north of Denver, a woman was driving in a way that no one should be, and in the process, landed her car on top of another car carrying a family of 5. Perhaps cars need stricter legislation. Obviously, what I am saying is ridiculous. We didn’t focus on the weapons of destruction in those events, but when a firearm is used to kill, instantly we hear that guns are evil and need to be removed from this country.

In a recent Facebook post, I mentioned that firearms played a huge role in the formation of our nation and the liberation from the monarchy of England. If the early colonists had not possessed or had not used firearms, we wouldn’t call this land The United States of America, we would still be paying taxes to the monarchy of England, and we would all be speaking with British accents.

That brings me to the 2nd amendment. Our founding fathers must have felt that having the right to keep and bear arms was important enough to make it the 2nd amendment to our great constitution. I have heard so many people saying the 2nd amendment has outlived its usefulness. To this I ask, what would be our option if our government stopped being of government of and for the people? (Yes, I know we are quickly getting to that point!) We would simply become the subjects to whatever tyrant that was able to destroy the constitution and take our rights away from us. Obviously there are many people who seem to be ok with that. If they want to live like that, perhaps they should find a country with such ideals and move there.

Personally, I believe the constitution was written by inspired men and is timeless, in that we have not outlived its usefulness. It has been said by leaders in my church that the constitution would “hang as if by a thread.” We are rapidly approaching this point! All it takes is subtle attacks on each element of the constitution until we, as Americans, accept these attacks as part of our progression or we throw our hands in the air and say “What can I do?” Those who have flown commercially in recently have experienced the destruction of the 4th amendment. How many people realize that? Wikipedia’s summarizes the 4th Amendment by saying “Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.” How many of us have posed such a risk to our fellow passengers that warranted a virtual strip search? The actual text of the 4th Amendment states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

How many people feel “secure in their persons” knowing that someone in a little room in the airport is looking at essentially our bodies as seen with x-ray vision? How many people feel secure knowing that they have been subjected to radiation over our entire bodies to satisfy “air travel security?” But what are our alternatives? If we decline the virtual strip search, we will have the pleasure of being groped over almost every inch of our bodies in order to “prove” that we are not going to harm our fellow passengers. This is not to mention TSA rummaging through our luggage randomly, whenever they desire. This, in my opinion, violates my right “against unreasonable searches” in my “effects,” this being my luggage. It almost makes you want to launder all your clothing upon arriving at your destination, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about the 5th Amendment. Everyone has heard someone say, whether under oath or in jest, “I plead the 5th.” They cannot be forced to testify against themselves. But do you know that the 5th Amendment also protects abuse through Eminent Domain? What is Eminent Domain? It is when a government decides they need your property more than you do, and they take it. The 5th Amendment states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” I guess the “just compensation” value depends on who you ask. If a home is taken under Eminent Domain, I can guarantee an appraiser is not brought in and the homeowner is not given fair market value for their property.

I could state more examples of constitutional rights and federal laws being mocked, and perhaps I will post a some later time on my feelings on this. So what can we do to preserve the constitution? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that if we sit idly by and wait for others to “fix it,” it will never get fixed. There are simple things that can be done – pay attention to what is happening in Washington. Write your senator or representative. It’s easy to do – they all have forms on their websites. I always get replies whenever I write. Granted, they are often form letters, but it lets me know my email was seen by someone. Call them on urgent matters. You most likely won’t talk directly to your senator or congressman or woman, but your voice will get back to them, especially if their phones are ringing off the hook from constituents calling to have their voices heard. Sign up for email lists for causes that you believe in.

I don’t care if you have the same beliefs that I do or we are polar opposites, but I do care that we Americans need to wake up and stop being “sheeple” – going through life like lambs to the slaughter. To quote a country song I once heard, “You’ve gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” We’ve been falling long enough, it’s time to be heard in Washington and to remind them they work for us, not the other way around.

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