This Aurora, Colo., event is very disturbing. Massacres don’t occur in civilized countries. Civilized countries have rules, laws and people who rationally solve their differences. Massacres occur in rogue and uncivilized countries like Syria, Iran or Cambodia — not the United States of America. How naive of me; of course they happen here, one just did.
Wacko’s exist everywhere. I’ve been to Aurora; an organization I once worked for had offices there. I may even have attended a movie in the same theater where this horrific event occurred. Aurora is larger than Hagerstown, the third largest city in Colorado. But, for all intents and purposes, it could be our city or our county, or our state.
Walk the streets in Aurora, or visit the Century Cinema Complex at the mall; you could easily see yourself at Valley Mall, or the outlets, or the Centre at Hagerstown. Here locally, the next time you visit one of the aforementioned shopping areas, look around. I’m sure the folks going to see the new Batman movie in Aurora on Thursday night, July 19, did. I’ll bet you the folks in Aurora on that faithful night didn’t see the Wacko — but sadly he was there.
I was pretty tough on President Obama a couple of weeks ago in this column, but I have to give him his due. The day after this horrible event, the president said that those of us not involved were blessed to be able to hug our children or grandchildren, while those involved were not.
How terrible would it be for you or for me if one of our loved ones were killed in an attack by some wacko? I hope each of you hugged your loved ones after that attack. I certainly did.
I listened to commentary by a cable news guest a couple of days after the Aurora incident; that guest suggested that it was “good” that the assailant used a 100-round magazine in his AR 15 assault rifle, because those magazines have a penchant for jamming. Are you kidding me? A 100-round magazine for an assault rifle, available on the open market is a “good” thing?
Over a year ago, I promised Herald-Mail readers to work with local Second Amendment supporters and submit a letter to the governor of Maryland asking for a special panel to review state gun legislation with an eye toward keeping the good legislation and getting rid of the bad.
I promised to ask for this review panel to be composed of equal membership on both sides of the Second Amendment debate. As of this date, I have yet to submit the promised letter. No excuse, just a statement of fact.
For the past year, I have researched the process involved in getting a personal handgun “concealed-carry” permit. Why? In my mind, I figured that if I (average American) could get a concealed-carry handgun permit, then many other law-abiding citizens could easily exercise their Second Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution within the State of Maryland.
Perhaps the Maryland laws are not as restrictive as I have been led to believe.
However, in Maryland, not meeting the “good and substantial reason clause” in the rules surrounding the permit process is the usual reason for denial of permit requests. This rule, by itself, is very restrictive.
There has been little reasonable dialogue between ardent supporters on either side of the Second Amendment issue. If I could prove that it is reasonably possible to get a concealed-carry handgun permit, then perhaps activists on the pro-gun side might be willing to soften their arguments about what you can or can’t own in terms of “bearing arms” — maybe a little quid pro quo.
In March, a U.S. District Court judge struck down the requirement that Maryland residents provide a good and substantial reason in their application for a concealed-carry handgun permit. If that judgment goes into effect, possibly the pro- and anti-gun groups can come to the table and begin a process of adopting laws concerning guns that will protect everyone’s freedoms.
I’m among the supporters of Second Amendment rights and I believe this one small step concerning the process, promulgated by the courts, is a step in the right direction. Americans have the right to keep and bear arms.
Yet reasonable laws must govern what arms we bear — if not, more wackos, like the latest one in Wisconsin, will always be there using guns to promulgate violence.
Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.