Traverse City Record-Eagle


Guns … How much longer?

Ed HahnenbergEveryday the news in the U.S. highlights the fatal shooting of someone or some group. The latest horror played out in Connecticut is another tragic reminder of the insanity of guns. Almost two years ago, I posted a blog on handguns ( The response was quick and condemnatory. Gun owners, in effect, called me crazy. Today, I am even more convinced that this country is becoming more of a violent place to live.

  • The Colorado Bureau of Investigation says it set a new record for single-day background check submittals this past weekend, Dec. 15th & 16th.
  • In San Diego, Northwest Armory gun store owner Karl Durkheimer said Saturday “was the biggest day we’ve seen in 20 years. Sunday will probably eclipse that.”
  • In southwest Ohio, from dawn to dusk a Cincinnati gun show had a line of 400 waiting to get in, said Joe Eaton of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

“Sales were through the roof on Saturday,” said Eaton. “People were buying everything they could out of fear the president would try to ban certain guns and high-capacity magazines.”

More guns, that’s all we need. Let’s throw more gasoline on the fire. Stupid.

Seventy percent of homicides in the U.S., as of three years ago, were caused by guns. I believe the SC recently ruled incorrectly that the right to bear arms extends to all citizens. That was not the original intent of the Framers of the 2nd Amendment. The Court has morphed the original wording, “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,” into that which would be foreign to the Framers.

The argument for more guns comes from those who voice the opinion that if those in a shooting incident had guns, they could prevent homicides by killing the perpetrator. That reasoning came from comments made regarding the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting this past July.

One-on-one violence usually involves a small-caliber handgun while mass killers often opt for semi-automatic weapons to kill as many as possible. There is evidence that one-on-one violence with handguns has declined, but mass killings have been on the rise.

From the New York Times editorial of Dec. 17th comes these observations:

Experts from the Harvard School of Public Health, using data from 26 developed countries, have shown that wherever there are more firearms, there are more homicides. In the case of the United States, exponentially more: the American murder rate is roughly 15 times that of other wealthy countries, which have much tougher laws controlling private ownership of guns.

There’s another important difference between this country and the rest of the world. Other nations have suffered similar rampages, but they have reacted quickly to impose new and stricter gun laws.

Australia is an excellent example. In 1996, a “pathetic social misfit,” as a judge described the lone gunman, killed 35 people with a spray of bullets from semiautomatic weapons. Within weeks, the Australian government was working on gun reform laws that banned assault weapons and shotguns, tightened licensing and financed gun amnesty and buyback programs.

At the time, the prime minister, John Howard, said, “We do not want the American disease imported into Australia.” The laws have worked.

The editorial goes on to say that after 16 children and their teacher were killed by a gunman in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, the British government banned all private ownership of automatic weapons and virtually all handguns. Those changes gave Britain some of the toughest gun control laws in the developed world on top of already strict rules. Hours of exhaustive paperwork are required if anyone wants to own even a shotgun or rifle for hunting. The result has been a decline in murders involving firearms.

In Japan, which has very strict laws, only 11 people killed with guns in 2008, compared with 12,000 deaths by firearms that year in the United States — a huge disparity even accounting for the difference in population. As New York mayor Bloomberg said recently while ratcheting up his national anti-gun campaign, “We are the only industrialized country that has this problem. In the whole world, the only one.”

I’m all for buy-back programs, destruction of the millions of guns in this country, and much tighter gun laws. Let’s clamp down on this problem and make it nearly impossible to purchase guns except for sport (and ban all semi-automatic rifles there too) because we are becoming an embarrassment to the world and our soil is being drenched with the blood of the innocent. Get guns off our streets. It’s a moral problem that will not go away unless we do.

  • Cathy Lester

    Well said, Ed. People say that having gun laws would leave guns in the hands of the criminals whilst taking away people’s ability to defend themselves, but you know, in the UK, it seems the criminals haven’t been able to get their hands on very many guns, either. As for self-defense, a friend of mine asked on facebook if teachers should have guns in their classrooms and I told her, “A hyped-up young man like the Newtown shooter, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, is not going to be stopped by a frightened 50-year old woman with a handgun.”

    We need to remind ourselves that the Peacemakers are Blessed, as Jesus said, and give them more support, even if it means shelling out more for mental health services and other community projects that can identify — and help — anyone so troubled that they are thinking about this kind of violent act.

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      Cathy…Thank you. I am a conservative, and conservatives usually support the NRA and its powerful lobby. Thousands just signed up to support it. Not I. In 2008, the court voted 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller to strike down Washington’s ban on handgun ownership and focused mainly on the right to defend one’s own home. The court left for another day how broadly the Second Amendment may protect gun rights in other settings. Such a narrow decision could be reversed. I still look to what the Framers’ intent was.

      Legal scholars say that the day is drawing near for a new high court case on gun rights.

  • jeff4

    amen Ed. when a conservative can cross party lines on a hot button topic like this it says a lot. mental health services and a BAN on violent video games for those under 18 seems a MUCH MUCH better approach along with MUCH stricter gun laws. Who needs a gun that shoots 5 rounds per second????????? Not a bambi hunter!

    • GenePH

      Jeff, can your finger pull the trigger 5 times in one second?

    • Peter Panner

      Eds a Catholic. Not a Conservative. He believes what the Pope tells him.

  • Peter Panner


    I suggest you read Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia V Heller in its entirety. He will crush your fanciful belief that “…the S[upreme] C[ourt] recently ruled incorrectly that the right to bear arms
    extends to all citizens.” In fact I encourage anyone interested in this issue to read the courts majority and minority opinions. oh, and if you wish to comment on the subject publicly ? Then read it. Otherwise your opinion pro or con has NO VALUE.

  • Peter Panner

    well you have censored me for the last time. You just lost a reader.

    • Ed Hahnenberg

      Peter…No one censored you. Our webmaster informed all bloggers that he would be on vacation. Historically the interpretation of the 2nd amendment has never been absolute. It is worded in such a loose way that judges, scholars, and lawyers have recently advanced all sorts of theories about what it originally meant standing on its own merits as well as in relation to the First Amendment (right to peaceful assembly). Suppose that the political will developed for a ban on private possession of firearms in all public places? Would such a law—enacted at the federal, state, or local level—contravene the Second Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court? The answer is not entirely clear.

      I suggest you read a Dec. 26th article by Michael C. Dorf, the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. Dorf will post a second part to his opinion tomorrow.

      To quote Professor Dorf: “Prior to the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in the Heller case, it was not clear that the Second Amendment protected any individual right at all. The Amendment’s text is hardly pellucid. It states: ‘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.’ Under the so-called ‘collective right’ view, the Second Amendment ONLY PROTECTS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SEVERAL STATES TO COLLECTIVE DEFENSE VIA THEIR STATE MILITIAS.”

      That is my position, and I realize that recent that SC has begun to interpret the original wording into what scholars call the “living constitution,” just as the right to privacy regarding abortion was invented.

      • Bobdisqus

        “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
        “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
        “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master that’s all.”

        Yes Ed, with our long tradition of keeping the firearms locked up in the militia depots how could any right minded person think anything else? Oh wait, that is not our history.

        Bloomberg spouts nonsense; of course these have happened elsewhere as your earlier quote from Harvard points out. We all know them and mourn when they happen (Beslan, Utoya, Tokyo subway, Toulouse, and too many more to number). It is a moral failure as you say Ed, we are a violent people here in the US let no one have any doubt. Before we turn our backs on our history and start rounding up guns perhaps we might look at some other things such as divorce rate, and out of wedlock birth rates.

        Mental illness plays some part, but it is far from a dominant cause. We should want every person with schizophrenia and the few other disorders that commit crimes at higher rates than the general public to get the help they need to deal with their problems. We should not kid ourselves that this would solve the problem as it is only a small part of the problem to start with.

        Detroit Murders 2012: 379
        Chicago Murders 2012: 499 or 500 seems to be some doubt.
        US crime (including murder) by year:

        • Ed Hahnenberg

          Bob…You are on point with the divorce rate, and out of wedlock birth rates. It is also true that a gunless U.S. is not our history. I have to concede that even our Founding Fathers spoke highly of guns, but for what reasons? Jefferson and Washington feared the reinvasion by England. There is the theory that the southern states wanted control of slaves with the gun as I blogged before.

          However, in the 2008 Heller Case, Justice Steven Breyer wrote the dissent to overturning the DC gun ban. He reasoned that Founding Father James Madison was more worried that the Constitution might not be ratified than he was about granting individuals the right to bear arms.

          Madison “was worried about opponents who would think Congress would call up state militias and nationalize them. ‘That can’t happen,’ said Madison,” said Breyer, adding that historians characterize Madison’s priority as, “I’ve got to get this document ratified.”

          Therefore, Madison included the Second Amendment to appease the states, Breyer said. “If you’re interested in history, and in this one history was important,then I think you do have to pay attention to the story,” Breyer said. “If that was his motive historically, the dissenters were right. And I
          think more of the historians were with us.”

          He suggested that those values and intentions mean that the Second Amendment allows for restrictions on the individual, including an all-out ban on handguns in the nation’s capital.

          “We’re acting as judges. If we’re going to decide everything on the basis of history — by the way, what is the scope of the right to keep and bear arms? Machine guns? Torpedoes? Handguns?” he asked. See Breyer’s article at

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