Opinion » Editorial

The Firing Line

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As we all surely know by now, there has been an outbreak of violence in the past couple of weeks, and the common denominator of it all was guns. There was the case, here in Memphis, of the two children — one sleeping "safely" in

bed, another engaging in harmless play — who were killed by gunfire unloosed by drive-by shooters going after God knows whom.  

What made the tragedy of those innocent deaths more unbearable was that they were arguably an instance of the law of averages at work. For there were numerous other instances of gunplay here last week, some cases of gang versus gang (it is likely that the two children who died were "collateral damage" of such a circumstance); others were instances of guns functioning as the favored show-and-tell instrument of holdup artists. With so much activity going on, it is increasingly difficult to stay out of the line of fire.

And there were several cases of guns going off inopportunely at the hands of law enforcement officers. In the case of the most universally seen one, Walter Scott, the errant driver in South Carolina who was stopped for having a defective rear light, was killed by Officer Michael Slager, who fired eight shots (eight shots!) from his firearm at the unarmed fleeing suspect. Scott, we subsequently learned, had no outstanding warrants against him; his crime was running from the arrest scene. In a horrific over-reaction, Slager killed him, and then tried to cover up his crime by framing his victim, dropping his taser on the spot and reporting that the dead man had tried to grab it.

And he'd have probably gotten away with it, if there hadn't been a bystander to video it. If ever there was a cause for rejoicing at the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras, this was surely it.

Finally, there was the spectacle of last weekend's convention of the National Rifle Association (NRA)in Nashville, where a dozen or so Republican pretenders to presidential status boasted of the glory of their personal weaponry (Lindsey Graham has an AK-47? For what?) and condemned President Obama for trying to place some sensible limits on gun use in the wake of the horrific 2013 Sandy Hook massacre.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, perhaps the most blatant political yahoo to appear in national life since the long-gone Joe McCarthy, went far beyond the others in toadying up to his NRA paymasters. He publicly defied Democratic presidential prospect Hillary Clinton to come pry his guns out of his — let us say, cold, closed mind.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Second Amendment. But just as, in all honesty, there was a time in American history when abusers gave the Fifth Amendment a bad name by using it to obstruct justice, the Second Amendment is now being perverted to the ignoble end of gun fetishism.

And that is what you call a clear and present danger.

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