By Steven Wikert
There are consistently more than 31,000 gun-related deaths and 200,000 gun injuries in the U.S. each year. In the past two years, there have been more gun-related deaths and injuries than all the military personnel killed or wounded during the Vietnam War and more than 10 times the amount of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
Despite these horrific statistics, Republican state Rep. Matt Windschitl and Iowa House Republicans want to revive a gun rights bill passed by the House last year that proposed eliminating all regulations on Iowans purchasing or owning weapons. Reacting to President Obama’s recently proposed anti-gun legislation, Windschitl said, “I think it is an assault on the Second Amendment….” Windschitl and other politicians need to study the Second Amendment, especially within the historical context it was written.
There were only 900 active military personnel protecting our country in 1791. Our Founding Fathers found it necessary to add the following Second Amendment to our Bill of Rights written in 1791: “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.”
Today, the active and reserve military includes 2.5 million people. Our local and federal law enforcement officers are almost 1 million strong. But unbelievably, there are still more than 300 million privately owned guns in this country.
I was a military policeman in Vietnam and we had extensive training in using pistols and fully automatic weapons. I also grew up in a hunting family. In Vietnam, I encountered enemy fire, but I was most frightened when on several occasions, my own men negligently misfired weapons at point-blank range. It is frightening that many of the 300 million guns have untrained owners.
Access to these guns by children is a serious issue. As a teacher in the Waterloo schools, and before 2002, a 4th-grader and a 7th-grader brought a handgun to my school with deadly plans.
Although many people feel safer carrying a concealed weapon, revealing it during a criminal act could make the situation deadly.
There needs to be regulations on who can own and have access to guns, and what kinds of guns and equipment should be allowed by private owners. Our Founding Fathers clearly stated things needed to be “well regulated.” Our country holds the worst record for gun deaths in the world. About two thirds of shootings are done by individuals who are local residents. It would be logical then, that if more guns were owned privately and carried by anybody, the less safe our communities become.
Steven Wikert of Cedar Falls is a retired teacher. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org