To the editor:
The March 29 edition of the Pine Island Eagle - which I read on line - contained an article headed "Second Amendment: support resolution approved." It was about a resolution passed unanimously by the Lee County Commission to support the Second Amendment and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
The apparent point of the resolution is to respond to calls for greater controls on assault weapons and large capacity magazines by letting the world know that the Lee County Commission, at least, opposes any such controls.
There are some memorable quotes in the article by Commission chairman Cecil Pendergrass which cry out for a response.
First, he says "The Second Amendment is a part of the people's rights and we sent a message to the federal government that we want to continue to follow the constitution."
Those who advocate some control over guns are not urging that we abandon the constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear in the case upholding the right to keep and bear arms that that right is not unlimited. Citizens do not necessarily have the right to keep and bear arms of every sort. Those limits will be tested in future cases and one issue that is sure to come up is; may the government prohibit the types of weapons that are capable of killing large numbers of people in a very short time span. I think
the Court has signaled by its caveat that the answer to that question may well be - yes.
Second, the Chairman is quoted as saying "Mental illness kills people, not guns. My first murder I worked as a police officer was with a putter, the second was with a pool cue, the third with a baseball bat. Murders can happen with any weapon."
Well let's be serious. Mental illness doesn't kill anyone. It's an armed madman that kills people. Of course almost any object can be turned into a weapon, but if you put a pool cue, a putter or a baseball bat in the hands of a madman he may cause serious injury or kill someone, but he cannot commit mass murder in a matter of seconds. Put an assault weapon with a high capacity magazine in the hands of the same madman and you may wind up with 26 people killed, including 20 young children, as was the case in Newtown.
The County Commission's resolution is symptomatic of a real problem in our society these days. As with so many serious issues we debate - like mass murder with assault weapons - there is a tendency to be doctrinaire in the extreme, so that nothing gets accomplished until the next tragedy occurs and then the process starts anew.
By the way, I am a gun owner, enjoy using my weapons responsibly and support the Second Amendment.