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On dead students, guns and the US constitution.

It is sad to read that innocent lives have been taken. A man made disaster, that lines up in a series of similar senseless events. But thinking of it, the sadness turns into anger. Why does that have to happen? Well guns are so readily available and seem to be part of manhood accessories, thanks to these gentlemen. The NRA sings you the siren song, that having a gun is part of being a free man, is part of the civic liberties of the United States. It is even protected by the constitution. They will recite the second amendment like a mantra: "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." And this liberty is more important than a life.
But wait a second. What does that sentence really mean? Sometimes it has its advantages not to be a native speaker, you have to lookup words and meanings.
The first striking point: the sentence starts with militia and not an individual. Is that right only meant for members of a "well regulated militia"? Given the time and context the constitution was formed, that looks rather obvious. And what does "bear arms" really mean. Webster renders two meanings: a) to carry or possess arms b) to serve as a soldier. So in the context of militia it could very well mean: "keep arms to serve as soldier in the militia."
In 2004 there were 11624 people in the US shot dead, that is 3.92 per 100000 (for comparison: Canada, just a few miles north: 0.54, Switzerland 0.50, Japan 0.04). How many more people have to die until they learn? Of course fear is a convenient control mechanism, so maybe everything works according to plan? For a more complete discussion check out the Wikipedia article.

Posted by on 17 April 2007 | Comments (1) | categories: After hours


  1. posted by Jack Dausman on Saturday 28 April 2007 AD:
    US culture and politics have a few topics which tend to polarize the constituency: abortion, gay marriage, gun control, and taxes. They mostly have to do with rights and values, unlike health care and education which are merely eminently practical.

    So, your comments are fairly made, but they aren't worded in phrases that most Americans would find familiar and comfortable. For instance, all we have to do to enact meaningful handgun control is to wrap it in the banner of the Patriot Act ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act). I think it's a great idea and I'll vote for anyone who can do it.

    P.S. Hope all is well with you in your new job. We'll have to compare notes, next time we meet, on the differences of corporate life and being a business partner.