Re “Don’t let an assault weapon end another life. Ban them.” (Opinion, July 10): Thank you for the moving and succinct commentary on banning assault weapons. John Rosenthal presents a wholly reasonable argument and a long and powerful list of signatories calling for a nationwide ban. I would love to see the page reprinted with a way for thousands upon thousands of names like mine to be added as signatories. I appreciate every name listed, from law enforcement, survivors, faith leaders, policy makers, and more, but I believe there are “regular” people like me who want to show their support too. Please keep speaking about this topic, and give us the chance to sign on.
I would change one word in John Rosenthal’s op-ed, “Don’t let an assault weapon end another life. Ban them.” We must demand, not “implore,” Congress to act now to ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
We’ve been imploring for decades.
The devastating spate of gun violence over the July 4 weekend in Massachusetts and across the country has hit me particularly hard (“Five dead in Philadelphia shootings,” Page A2; “Shots fired into crowd after Texas festival leave 3 dead,” Page A2; “District attorney’s office suspects Raynham murder-suicide,” Metro, July 5). That’s because 30 years ago, on July 1, 1993, a man shot and killed eight people in a San Francisco office building, including my beloved 35-year-old boss and our tenacious 30-year-old client, each of whom had small children. (I was away for the holiday at the time.) The man also injured six others before using one of his many guns to kill himself.
I know that collective action works because following the 101 California Street shooting, our community pulled together, lobbied Congress, and helped pass the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that took effect in 1994. Unfortunately, the law was not renewed when it expired 10 years later.
Now Massachusetts has the opportunity to pass meaningful gun violence prevention legislation by holding a hearing on An Act Modernizing Firearm Laws. Our safety depends on it.
The passage of an omnibus Massachusetts gun reform bill, as advocated in the July 10 editorial “Five days, 26 US mass shootings. Here’s a proposal to slow the bloodshed,” and a nationwide ban on assault weapons, as urged by John Rosenthal and signatories, are admirable and important steps to reduce gun violence and death. Unfortunately, neither will adequately address the loss of human life to firearms so long as the Supreme Court chooses to ignore the preamble of the Second Amendment (“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state …”) in violation of the canons of construction expounded by one of the most conservative justices to have sat on the court.
In “Reading Law,” Antonin Scalia and co-author Bryan A. Garner write, “If possible, every word and every provision is to be given effect.… None should be ignored.” Thus, it is important to frame a law that recites and is predicated on that preamble and to force the courts to contend with the limitations it imposes on gun ownership. Such a law could mandate that any person within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth who keeps or bears military-capable arms, as the Legislature may further define, is subject to the rules and regulations of a Massachusetts state militia. The law could require and regulate periodic in-person training on the use, maintenance, and storage of said arms.
When such a law is appealed to the Supreme Court, as it inevitably would be, that body would either have to acknowledge that the preamble denotes a compelling government interest in limiting the capability to cause multiple rapid human deaths to military regulation or explicitly go on record that the language of the Second Amendment as a whole is unintelligible.
In regard to your July 10 editorial, controlling the flow of guns with serial numbers would never survive the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen because 18th-century firearms didn’t have serial numbers. Instead, we should turn Bruen on its head and allow only those firearms that were in use when the Second Amendment was ratified.
Private citizens could still “keep and bear arms” but only 18th-century arms. For example, AR-15s would be swapped for Brown Bess muskets, noted for their high rate of fire (about four rounds per minute).
Limiting the Second Amendment to 18th-century firearms would force the Supreme Court to decide whether Bruen applies to both laws and firearms or applies to neither. If both, then a so-called mass shooter might get only one round off before being stopped. If neither, then we can legislate real limits on modern weapons. Either way, it would provide a pathway to stop the insane gun bloodshed in America and is the kind of gun reform that Massachusetts should enact.
Thank you to Yvonne Abraham for her enlightening column “There is an alternative” (Metro, July 6). It is a simple choice: Do nothing, and continue to witness the slaughter of innocent people, or enact serious gun reform and save countless lives, as Australia did.
Perhaps everyone should imagine if their child or loved one were murdered by someone with an assault rifle. Would they still feel the same way about guns? Since when is the freedom to own an assault rifle, a weapon of war, more important than the life of a child?
Australia suffered a terrible mass shooting and did something about it. It’s time we did too.