Mitt Romney has addressed the prestigious NRA and pledged his belief in the right of Americans to own guns. Over the years, he has voiced a variety of opinions on the matter, but he has now vowed support for the NRA and for the American Constitution.
Sure, we all support some gun ownership. As a boy and a young man I hunted pheasants, ducks, and geese; for the last two, crouching in a chilly and cold duck blind on Wonder Lake. I kept my 12 gauge shotgun clean and well oiled, and the decoys lived in the garage.
But living now in Chicago is another matter. In one week last year, 52 people were shot, at least eight fatally, in gang-related incidents. A one year old girl was grazed on the ear on West Hastings Street, four men were shot in that incident. That same evening, a drive-by shooting over drug turf near South Kolin Avenue resulted in five people being hospitalized in serious to critical condition. Then, 10 minutes later, police were called to Humboldt Park, a short distance from where a Puerto Rican Day Festival was in full swing: two men were shot there, on West Division Street. Later, shortly after 9 PM, a fifteen year old girl was shot in the hand on West Evergreen Street.
We live in a much different world than the world our founding fathers knew. The old west was still new, and police were far sparser than today’s law enforcers. It made sense to allow Americans to carry firearms, but it doesn’t make sense today.
Some may consider the thinking of the drafters of the Constitution, and of the members of the Supreme Court, as it applies to gun ownership for a standing militia, and to oppose a potential tyrannical government. This is a compelling argument, but it may also be outdated and unrealistic.
The NRA is the granddaddy of all special interest groups. They support the candidates who support them. We see our politicians line up daily to address the gun makers to pledge their support to the all important lobby.
Children in Chicago are afraid to go to the store; they are afraid to play in their yards, afraid to step off the block. Consider the plight of eleven year old Maria Rivera: frightened of the guns and gangs in Chicago’s gang-rich Little Village neighborhood, Maria is a prisoner in her own home, where she spends her after school time indoors with her mother. She created an artwork for her fifth grade social studies project, It shows a little girl standing before a barred second floor window, looking out at the gangbangers and drug dealers on the street below. Maria told schoolmates, “I feel like a prisoner because I usually can’t go outside.”
Lets look at some relevant statistics. In homes with guns, a member of the household is almost three times as likely to be the victim of a homicide compared to a resident in a gun-free home. A study of 626 shootings in or around residences in three U.S. cities revealed that for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or a legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides. Another study concluded that regardless of good intentions, such as safe storage practice, and proper training, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide.
Politicians who change their standards, alter their moral beliefs as the need to win elections molds their thinking, are many and ubiquitous, and that’s a shame.