Standing proud behind Bill of Rights

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2007

December 15, 1791 – does any history buff know the meaning of that date?

It was then that the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution became effective. Known as the Bill of Rights, the amendments included the following:

“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.”

Those words are the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

There was no way that our nation’s founding fathers could know that 216 years after those words became the law of the land that a gunman would walk into a college dormitory, and later a classroom building, and open fire.

We know now that 23-year-old Korean native Cho Seung-Hui did indeed perform that despicable act on Monday at Virginia Tech University. Left in his wake were 32 fatalities, all either students or staff at Tech. Seung-Hui became the 33rd victim when he turned his weapon upon himself.

His actions were totally senseless. No one gave him the authority n not God or whatever supreme power he believed in n to take even one life, much less 32 of them. But yet this young man, who moved to the United States with his parents in 1992, took it upon himself to commit unprovoked acts of murder.

And what drove him to purchase two pistols over the past few months as well as ample ammunition? News reports label Cho Seung-Hui as a “loner.” A Virginia Tech student told CNN that Seung-Hui had written two plays so &uot;twisted&uot; that his classmates suspected he might become a school shooter. They called the plays &uot;very graphic&uot; and &uot;extremely disturbing.&uot;

I was watching the TV news Tuesday night where a Virginia Tech counselor, aware of Cho Seung-Hui’s mental status, tried to convince him to seek professional help. He refused.

So, where is the finger of blame being pointed? If you read the worldwide reaction to the murders, the blame is directed at America’s “gun culture.” There are even those red-blooded Americans among us, those sworn to uphold the Constitution (see Ted Kennedy), who want to see all types of guns outlawed.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but guns don’t kill people, people do. Even if old Teddy got his wish and there were no guns sold on the public market, Cho Seung-Hui, if he’s as “twisted” as he was made out to be, would have carried out his reign of terror in some other fashion.

Banning the sale of guns would turn this great nation into a land of outlaws. The bad guys would become more brazen in their acts, knowing the good guys are abiding by the law and are without means to protect themselves.

Why is it now, with all the tougher laws regarding the purchase of handguns, that we seem to have more of these types of shootings? Back in the day when anyone could walk into a hardware store and buy a weapon, without all the hoops to jump through, we didn’t encounter mass murderers.

I was born and raised on a farm. My daddy, a veteran of World War II and a man who could disassemble, clean and reassemble a rifle with his eyes closed, taught me how to shoot. But more importantly he taught me to respect a weapon, to use it for the taking of game or to protect myself or my family.

I’ve used a weapon to kill animals, most notably deer, dove and squirrels. I have never aimed a weapon at a human being and have no intentions of doing so unless I’m provoked to act in the safety of myself or my family.

Owning and using a weapon all comes down to simple respect…first and foremost for your fellow man and secondly for the power held in your hands. More than anything, my dad stressed safety when using a weapon. When handled properly and with respect, a gun is nothing more than a loud noisemaker.

As a legal resident, Cho Seung-Hui purchased his weapons and ammunition according to the law. The seller, a registered gun dealer, has no reason to kick himself. He acted under the auspice of the law, verifying three forms of identification and performing a background check on the buyer.

But yet America remains the target of ridicule because some think our gun laws are too lax. As mentioned earlier, some of our fellow Americans are using this horrific incident to conduct a political revival, stand in the pulpit and deliver their message of doom and gloom if we don’t outlaw gun ownership.

There were 300,000 gun-related deaths worldwide in 2006. Gun opponents say the majority of the weapons used in those cases were manufactured in the United States.

The U.S. also brews some of the world’s best liquor. A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that 1.2 million drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians are killed in traffic crashes each year. The WHO estimates 1.5 of every 50 highway deaths are alcohol related.

Is there an outcry from the world to ban the manufacture and sale of liquor? I haven’t heard a peep from anyone about that issue….not even from old Ted.