My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A COMMON-SENSE APPROACH TO GUN VIOLENCE

Dear Blog Visitors:

We have seen numerous gun-related incidents receive media attention in recent weeks.  Whenever such events occur, it is common to report the grim statistics that characterize the violent climate in America.  While numbers can be debated, a safe estimate is reported to be approximately 70,000 shootings and 14,000 deaths resulting from these shootings in 2011.

When I ran for public office in 1983, I had the endorsement of local members of the National Rifle Association, because I supported, and still support, the Second Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms.  However, a question continuously begs to be asked:  How do we curb gun violence in the United States, without jeopardizing the Second Amendment?

It is very important to state that when the framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights gathered, guns that existed were primarily single-shot muskets.  The right to bear arms was granted so that average citizens would have the legal authority to either form a militia, if need be, or to defend oneself against an aggressor.  Obviously, our forefathers could not have envisioned that  two-hundred years later, the possession of firearms would amount to many citizens owning rapid-fire assault rifles or handgun clips containing as many as one-hundred rounds.

When I was interviewed by local members of the NRA in 1983, I expressed my outrage over the fact that so many ‘illegal’ handguns were on our city streets.  I further stated that while I felt it was necessary to implement tougher laws aimed at illegal gun-runners and purchasers, I also supported the rights of ‘legal’ gun owners to defend themselves against armed aggressors.  Our conversation then turned to rifles.  I questioned why gun owners felt a need to own an assault rifle, when they are specifically designed to kill multiple people with one clip.  I remember a responder telling me that if a home intruder were to enter his home carrying an assault rifle, he would have an equal chance at survival, if he, himself, owned one.  The conversation then turned to hunting.  I made the point that since hunters are not legally allowed to hunt with an assault rifle, there doesn’t seem to be a logical need to have one around the house.  (There was some partial agreement on this issue.)

As I thought about ways to toughen laws aimed at the proliferation of gun violence, the best solution I could come up with was that all states should adopt the process of obtaining gun permits that has long been implemented in New York State.  This is obviously not a cure-all approach, since illegal gun owners will still pose a threat to society.  However, at the very least, New York State’s permit application process has two very good aspects: 1.) Background checks are extensive and take several months to complete; 2.) Applicants are required to supply character references, which makes it challenging for a mentally-disturbed person to get a permit.

In the final analysis, we need to get tougher on illegal gun owners, whereby they know they will face stiff prison terms if they are caught with these weapons.  Secondly, all states need to consider a tougher application process for gun permits, which would help to screen out the types of mentally-disturbed individuals who have been in our nation’s headlines recently.

As we move closer to Election Day, it is my hope there will be some common-sense debates about gun violence in the United States.

Peace to all,
Ray

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