Tuesday, Nov 13, 2018
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Editorials

EDITORIAL

No right is absolute

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How many times have we read this headline in the last five years: “A man wielding a handgun opened fire ...”

We feel the shock waves and sickness in our hearts and heads and stomachs viscerally now, especially in Pittsburgh.

This time it happened at a country and western bar/​dance hall in Thousand Oaks, Calif., killing at least 12 people. Several dozen of the people who frequented the place had a special convention: They had survived the mass shooting In Las Vegas. They came to the bar regularly to bond and celebrate survival.

This is what it has come to. We have survivors, in this country, of multiple mass shootings.

When, as a country, will we say “enough”?

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Yes, there is a constitutional right to bear arms.

Yes, the Supreme Court has said this right does not just apply to 1778 militias, but to self-protection in 2018.

Yes, sometimes an armed citizen comes to the aid of unarmed citizens and schools should have real protection, including armed guards.

But none of this guarantees the right of anyone to have any weapon, including weapons of war.

No right is absolute.

And many countries in the world where individuals are maximally free have some regulation as to what weapons are widely available and as to who may have them.

This is only common sense.

We need a moral and religious awakening in our land. There is too much violence and too much hate. We are at war with each other. We are at war with goodness.

We need a national mental health policy, including humane institutions for those who need help.

We also need sensible gun control.

It will take many years to reduce the number and type of guns in circulation. All the more reason to start now.

Cracking down on screening those who buy guns legally would have a more immediate impact. We already do it for some categories of people in some states. Candidate Donald Trump once favored such measures. He could and should again. For this too is common sense. What does a family do if one of its members has a manic episode and he owns a gun? What if your son came back from Afghanistan psychologically and spiritually wounded and he owned a gun?

American society and its governments must at last do what any family would do: Protect our own.

Our continued failure to do so, indeed to take any action at all, casts doubt upon our self-respect, and even our spirit, our will to endure.

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