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A modest proposal: let us disarm

To the editor:

Mahatma Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

So, here’s something to ignore, or is the suggestion simply laughable?

I propose the city of Northampton ban guns on any person. Yes, any person, police included. Cars could hold weapons, police vehicles, the hunting rifle on the back of the pickup, and they can be stockpiled in the police station, but guns would be banned from being on, or in the possession of, any person within our city limits.

Last summer on vacation, I encountered a number of police working in small towns: I did an informal survey asking, “If everyone were unarmed would you be willing to not carry a gun in your work?” To a person, they said yes.

I realize this is a novel idea, but it just might work and then become a model for all our towns and cities. The alternative suggested by the NRA last week — that the way to stop bad guys with guns is through good guys with guns — is ludicrous.

I am not suggesting this as an alternative to banning assault weapons; I don’t see any rationale for them. I am suggesting this banning of guns as a way to let us all see that in our city we can have real safety. Is there anyone who would not feel safer if there were no guns allowed in our town?

With both the outcry against gun control by the NRA and the reports of “off-the-charts” gun buying” since the killings at Newtown, I decided to look at the Second Amendment. 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.”

What a far cry from that are the killings of moviegoers in Colorado and of elementary schoolchildren in Connecticut.

It seems to me the Second Amendment has nothing to do with the rights of citizens to carry weapons indiscriminately, or with the intent to commit mass murder.

I offer a modest proposal. Let us disarm.

Paki Wieland


Legacy Comments2

Ghandi also said "I used to issue leaflets asking people to enlist as recruits. One of the arguments I had used was distasteful to the Commissioner: 'Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.' The Commissioner referred to this and said that he appreciated my presence in the conference in spite of the differences between us. And I had to justify my standpoint as courteously as I could." He was referring to the Indian Arms Act of 1878 (which was amended several times over the ensuing decades). This Act was, in practice, a total gun ban enacted to protect the British realm from an insurgency. By banning firearm possession for all but those authorized by the Realm they were able to all but do away with both military and private arms as almost no one was ever authorized. Mr. Gandhi was a lifelong pacifist. But, he understood that in the extreme a society needs to have the capability to defend itself from invasion and oppressive governance. This is not contradictory. It's merely an acknowledgement of the existence of extremes. I have in person heard the Dalai Lama (another life long pacifist) state the same thing. In short, pacifists are not entirely blind to the possibility of a need to defend oneself from extraordinary violence. However, they do believe that in most cases where one man would choose to take up arms passive resistance would be the superior choice. In India that proved to be true. In the Germany of the 1940's it wasn't. However, one of the first things that Hitler did was ban all the guns.

This has to be the most foolish thing I have ever read. The simple fact is that criminals do not follow laws. That is what makes them criminals. When you disarm an entire population the very first thing that happens is crime rates skyrocket. Everyone, including the police, become a target. That is a verifiable fact and it has happened in every country that has ever disarmed its population. Secondly, it allows for government abuse and tyranny. Hitler and the Bolsheviks confiscated all the weapons they could get their hands on. They stockpiled them neatly in one location. Then shot anyone they didn't like. It would be erroneous to believe that human nature has changed so much in the past 100 years to put us beyond that possibility. Just visit the African country of your choice. Or Argentina. And then read the Consitution and understand its purpose.

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