Zachary Scott: Regulating reality

If tighter gun regulation is not considered, politicians will prove no one thus far in history has learned tragic events in the past. What followed the Tucson, Ariz., shooting on Jan. 8 was a giant

If tighter gun regulation is not considered, politicians will prove no one thus far in history has learned tragic events in the past.

What followed the Tucson, Ariz., shooting on Jan. 8 was a giant outpour of grief accompanied by the question of why this tragedy happened. It killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. But curiousity as to why such an event occurred led public discourse to a boiling point.

President Barack Obama called for a new age of civility in a speech on Jan. 12, but he is sorely mistaken if he believes the Limbaughs and Olbermanns of the world are to blame.

Zachary Scott

It is possible the murderer was inspired by the argumentative media, but the inspirations of mad men cannot be held accountable. Do we blame “The Catcher in the Rye” for killing John Lennon? Or Jodie Foster for John W. Hinckley’s attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan? Of course not – it is impossible to know what the mentally disturbed will latch on to as motivation, and overreacting to it is foolish.

Focusing on this angle has drawn attention away from the real culprit. It was a gun, not political pundits, who killed and wounded those people in Tucson.

An increased effort to regulate the sale of firearms and ammunition by the government is crucial to prevent such events from reoccurring. Even if regulating guns is impossible, something as simple as managing the size of clips available for retail sale would help prevent a Tucson-like tragedy from happening again.

The gunman utilized an extended magazine, which gave him the ability to fire 31 rounds before needing to reload. In comparison, Sheriff Edgar Domench, who was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ special agent in charge of the Virginia Tech investigation, said on the Jan. 10 “Rachel Maddow Show” a typical law enforcement officer using the exact same gun is issued a clip with 12 shots.

Why should any civilian be allowed to possess a clip well over the size of a standard magazine given to the brave men and women we trust to protect our lives? That is excessive to the point of lunacy.

While Carolyn McCarthy has proposed a bill regulating gun control, it is not likely to be met with much success.

The most supported of the reactionary proposals to come out of Washington so far is a legislation introduced by Rep. Peter King, (R-NY). King’s legislation would outlaw the possession of a gun within 1,000 feet of a congressman.

Despite the fact Congress is afraid of rogue gunmen, a majority of the legislative body won’t lift a finger to help anyone else. Essentially, this means our representatives would rather protect their re-election campaigns by not making enemies with gun-toting voters in their constituencies than protect the lives of the people they represent, including the gun owners.

Clearly, these representatives only have their own interests at heart.

Even if any other proposals were to come about, they would most likely be shot down. The power of the Second Amendment is so overbearing it halts any real effort from progressing.

The original intent of the Second Amendment was to ensure the American citizens would be able to defend themselves if there was an attack because the federal government, at the time, lacked the ability to defend them.

While this is hardly the case now, there is still massive resistance to becoming more flexible in legislative efforts.

Ultimately, the only possible gun regulations that might come about in the ensuing weeks will be mild at best. Even when you get past the self-serving politicians and the ironclad interpretation of the Second Amendment, there is the inevitable challenge of the National Rifle Association.

It’s an unfortunate reality the safety of American citizens is being held at gunpoint by the powerful lobby, but it is a reality nonetheless.

If no major changes occur, nothing will prevent a repeat of this calamity. The events that transpired in Tucson were horrifying, but the real tragedy would be not learning from them.

Zachary Scott can be reached at


  1. Zachary makes some interesting points. Allow me to correct 1 of them: The original intent of the 2nd Amd was NOT to ensure American citizens would be able to defend themselves if there was an attack because the federal government, at the time, lacked the ability to defend them. Its original intent was to insure that citizens had the ability to defend themselves FROM the very government they had formed to govern them. I trust this vital distinction is clear. But even some of those who understand this assert the original intent is now moot due to far greater disparity in weapons possessed by civilians and the military. And should conflict arise, there would be no contest due to overwhelming technical superiority of government arms. True; IF one assumes it would be ONLY civilians in revolt. But herein lies the “elephant in the living room” no one will acknowledge. It may not be just civilians taking issue with government exceeding the limits of Constitutional powers. I’m a former Pentagon staff officer and I can say with some authority that the possibility of civil revolt with wide spread support of both active duty military and National Guard is a scenario our current administration is both aware and fearful of; so fearful that there has deliberately no public mention such a scenario.
    The other point and flaw common in most comments such as Mr. Scotts is: “If no changes are made, there will be repeats of such calamities”. Yes, If history teaches us anything, there WILL be repeats. But lacking in such comments are is WHAT specific, realistic “changes” should be made to avoid such re-occurrences. One of the few and often heard suggestions is: “repeal the 2nd Amd”, under the theory it’s no longer relevant. It is such suggestions that cause the intransient position and stubborn resistance by pro 2nd Amd. lobbies to ANY reasonable gun control legislation. So I ask Mr. Scott: What Specific, Realistic & Constitutional changes do YOU propose?

  2. The right to possess arms is an inherent, natural, right of all men & women. It’s the right to self defense and self determination. A disarmed person is at the mercy of the stronger. The 2nd amendment doesn’t confer this right, but instead ensures its recognition and respect. As a natural right, repealing the 2nd amendment wouldn’t abolish the right to keep and bear arms any more than repealing the 1st amendment would abolish the right to free speech.
    The argument that a citizens revolt couldn’t stand up to the World Class U.S. Military doesn’t stand up to the trials of history. I am an 18 veteran of the U.S. Army and can tell you that history is ripe with examples of World Class armies being stymied by civilians with rifles and pistols; from our revolution, to the Warsaw Ghetto to our current war – don’t forget that a handful of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, armed with rifles, pistols and explosives have stymied and frustrated our “Trillion” dollar military for the past eight years. The civilian population of the United States is more heavily armed with light weapons than any military or civilian population anywhere else in the world. If a handful of Iraqi insurgents or Mujahedeen can cause all sorts of problems for our Military, does anyone truly think it would fare any better against our civilian population? The fact that the U.S. will likely, and hopefully, never become totalitarian doesn’t mean it’s impossible or the scenario is to be ignored.
    If our students of today can’t conceptualize events that happened before their lives (such as our revolution or the Warsaw Ghetto), let’s look to a couple that I’m certain even the youngest freshmen were alive for. The Bosnian war, sometimes termed the Bosnian genocide, started in 1992 and only ended when the U.S. became involved in 1995. During that time Serbian and Croatian forces along with Bosnian-Serb civilians waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Bosniaks. Over 33,000 unarmed civilians were killed (many of which intentionally murdered) and hundreds of thousands were raped, tortured and displaced. It was illegal for civilians to own weapons in Bosnia then, and today. The towns that were unarmed (Srebrenica for instance) fell quickly to the enemy after which over 8,000 men and boys were systematically murdered. Others, such as Gradacac, managed to scrape together enough weapons to be able to hold off the Serbs for over three years until the end of the war. One of our tasks as a Peace keeper was to go door to door asking civilians to turn in their weapons – most Gradacans flatly refused, having seen firsthand what could happen when they were disarmed.
    If the Bosnian war is too complicated, we can also look to the Rwandan genocide in 1994 when approximately 1,000,000 unarmed civilians were murdered; the slaughter of over 200,000 unarmed civilians by the RUF in Sierra Leone between 1991 & 2002; 330,000 unarmed civilians murdered in Darfur, Sudan… etc., etc., etc…
    If the historic examples of genocide & totalitarian rule aren’t convincing to our newest crop of academics, perhaps some examples closer to home would work. In the past thirty days on Temple’s campus there have been three aggravated assaults (all with weapons), fourteen thefts from autos, five robberies, four stolen cars & thirty five thefts (of all other types). Just to put this in perspective, and I’m sure the statisticians are going to disagree with me, those five robberies puts Temple’s robbery rate at 200 per 100,000. This is lower than Philadelphia’s average of 584 per 100,000 but still well above the national average is 133 per 100,000. So not as dangerous as other parts of Philadelphia, Temple’s certainly not a “safe” place to live.
    Realizing, and more importantly accepting, the dangers of your environment are the first step to protecting yourself from becoming a victim. We already know some of the rules – we don’t flash our cash around, we don’t leave our Ipods on the front seats of our cars & we don’t go to McDonalds by ourselves at 2AM. Even with all the precautions you already take, what are you going to do when you’re confronted on the street by that violent offender? Just give up your money and your jewelry? What if that’s not what they want? What if it’s the rapist breaking into your apartment at night or simply the deranged shooter bent on carnage? Simply put, students aren’t immune from victimization.
    The prudent man buys health insurance in case he gets sick, auto insurance for when he drives and a firearm to protect himself, and his family, when that evil person comes a calling. Students over twenty-one have the right to be armed, and the duty to defend themselves against becoming a victim. Students who choose to do so, should buy a pistol, learn how to shoot, get a license to carry firearms and start carrying concealed. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor – Remember, the life you save may be your own.

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