By David Bryan
“9 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
7 And he arose, and departed to his house.
8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.”
Matthew 9:1-8King James Version (KJV)
It was and still is heart-wrenching watching the events unfold in South Carolina, USA, relating to the brutal murder of 9 Christians at the hands of a delusional psychopathic killer. Despite the incalculable pain and shock by the victims’ families- they were still able to overcome the obvious emotion to remain bitter and resentful, by embracing one of the tenets of the Spirit of what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ espoused- the power of forgiveness.
Evidently, there are some in the nation of America who would not be so forgiving as it pertains to the legislatures passing laws which could of curtailed these mass murders at the hands of these unforgiving agents of criminal terror through their access and use of guns. Has the United States of America become so immune to the loss of precious life by gun violence, that federal and state legislatures are reluctant to act? How else can there be any explanation on why has the situation relating to gun violence against persons not properly addressed?
Yet, there are those who purport that the war on terror in the Middle- East cannot justify the further loss of American soldiers, because American lives matter. But what about saving the lives of ordinary, innocent non-combatants, regardless of race, religion and ethnicity- who are not at war in USA but who are, everyday on the front-lines of the battle of gun violence at the hands of -not ISIS or Al-Qaida- but at the trigger of their own citizens.
When one analyzes the gun violence statics in America, the conclusion is one of sheer disbelief, to say the least. Take for instance, the website www.gunviolencearchive.org which not only magnifies the hypocrisy of the gun debate, but glaringly exposes if for all to see. For the first six months of the year of 2015, there were 22,809 incidents of gun violence reported and verified, out of that number there were 5,810 deaths, 11,455 gun related injuries, 311 numbers of children between the ages of 0-11 killed together with 1,108 numbers of teenagers between ages 12 to 17.
In 2014, the total number of gun related incidents were 51,655 and 12, 561 deaths- each one of these figures remember are and were living people. One life matters. I dare say, the death of Eighteen thousand three hundred and seventy-one (18,371) individuals from January 2014 to June 2015 in a period of peace is nothing short than a- national crisis.
The shocking total number-to date- of mass shooting for the year in America is not 2, 5 or 10 but One hundred and thirty-three (133). It must be observed, that by omission these statistics did not include the break-down of those who were fatally shot by police -this is discourse for another article.
I have found it always an insensitive question, to ask whether the executive board of the National Rifle Association (NRA), its members, and family; what would they do if they were involved in such tragic incidents as what took place in South Carolina? Equally more, offensive is for anyone to publicly admonish the slain pastor, a former state Senator, that it was his “fault” since he voted against the legislation for allowing individuals to be armed in public places such as churches.
The debate on gun rights and gun control is in-exhaustive and highly emotional. Do we need more guns as a check and balance? Is the mentality of gun vs. gun the answer, or is the restriction of guns in certain circumstances to certain individuals the proper approach? No one will have all the answers, but this should not prevent workable solutions as for example, in the case of Washington, where its residents passed in 2014- Initiative 594- “the measure that require criminal background checks on all firearm sales and transfers in the state-I-594 gained 60 % of voter support”.
This is a step in the right direction, more has to be done. Positive laws should be indeed be promoted such as; “allowing gun violence protection orders; preventing gun access for people who seem to pose a risk of violence. California recently passed a similar law. Laws, also that support family members and survivors to sign up in order to be notified when firearms are returned to individuals from whom they have been taken by court orders”are good places to start.
The gun purist will always skew the argument that it is about “removing gun rights and gun control” however, the issue should be centered around the protection of life from gun violence.
This is no where better seen than in the Constitution of the USA, whose fundamental duty is the protection of life, liberty and property. Surely, the endangerment of the sacred right to life as against the sacrosanct right to bear arms is in conflict. Without life, who are are they going to govern? Without life; who is going to govern?
The right to bear arms cannot be an inalienable right-it is a right but that right has to be limited to the extent of those rights which protect and infringed on someone’s the right to life, liberty and property. There can be no greater right than that of the right to life- free from the right of an individual to bear arms so as to take away the right of another person’s life.
This basic fundamental human right has been embodied and codified in the rule of law some 800 years ago-from which the Constitution was premised- the Magna Carta. If the ‘habeas corpus ‘right is to liberate the incarcerated. Then how much more valuable is the right to live free from the prison of gun violence.
As shown in the Second Amendment, there are exceptions to the rules. Thus, the right, therefore to bear arms must have exceptions to the general right thereto in so far as it is limited to guns being used for the purposes other than to protect the very right to life, liberty and property. In the case of Antunovic v Dawson before the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia in 2010 Bell J stated;
“ Protecting people, especially the vulnerable, from unlawful restraints on the personal liberty is a fundamental purpose of the common law going back to Magna Carta 1297, in force in Victoria by virtue of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006”.
Read another way; paraphrasing;
“Protecting people, especially the vulnerable, from unlawful [gun related acts] on the personal liberty, is a fundamental purpose of the [Constitution of the United States]”
It is, therefore, the civic duty of government to protect the vulnerable in society. 18,371 lives lost over an 18 month period cannot be ignored or politicized; on the contrary it should be the compelling factor for action. Granted, amendments to the Constitution are rare and far in between, but laws which are enacted to fill the gaps can be passed underscoring the intentions of what the architects would of desired from the legislature for the best interest of “we the people of the United States of America”.
Forgiveness is one side of Christianity but preventing ‘sin’ is other.
(David Bryan is an Attorney-at-Law and a consultant)