Commentary: The man who really likes guns

By John Krull
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, likes guns.

Rep. Lucas likes guns so much that every time someone suggests that maybe there’s too much gun violence in this country or that

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com

the National Rifle Association, of which he is a devout member, might be a touch unreasonable, he fires off impassioned notes proclaiming the ownership of firearms to be part of a “Natural Right.” (Rep. Lucas likes capital letters, too – not as much as he likes guns, but he likes them nonetheless.)

Commentary button in JPG - no shadowRep. Lucas says he wants to have a rational discussion about guns, but then he also says that people who want stronger or even just different gun laws are the real problem, not school shootings! (Rep. Lucas likes exclamation points, too – but, again, not as much as he likes guns.)

Rep. Lucas likes guns so much that he says people who disagree with him about gun laws are “evil.”

(Note to Rep. Lucas: Mother Teresa had problems with gun violence, too. Most people don’t think of her as evil.)

Rep. Lucas likes guns so much that he wants to make it easier for people to take them everywhere, including schools. He has authored and pushed for a bill that would allow people to take them onto school grounds so long as they remain locked in the owners’ cars in the parking lot.

At present, people just aren’t supposed to bring guns to school.

Period.

Part of the point of Rep. Lucas’s measure is to spare gun owners the bother and inconvenience of remembering that they have a deadly firearm with them when they drive to a school. If they forget now, they can violate the law.

Rep. Lucas likes guns so much that he thinks it’s wiser to change the law than ask gun owners to obey it.

Because Rep. Lucas likes guns so much, he can’t imagine that some of us might like legal sanctions for gun owners who are so absent-minded that they forget they’re carrying dangerous weapons around when they bring them close to our kids.

If anyone were to suggest that, Rep. Lucas would start talking about “Natural Right” and the real problem of people who want sensible gun laws (!) and “evil” again.

That’s because Rep. Lucas really likes guns.

Because Rep. Lucas really likes guns, he can’t see that a gun sometimes might be a problem. Like so many of his fellow NRA members, he believes sometimes that a gun is just a tool – and therefore can’t be blamed – when it suits his purposes. Other times he and they argue that a gun is a kind of sacrament – and therefore above such trivial considerations as blame and responsibility – when doing so suits their purposes.

The devotion of people who really like guns, such as Rep. Lucas, spares them the bother of asking troubling questions.

In Rep. Lucas’s world, one never needs to ask why it’s wrong to regulate a tool such as a gun when we regulate who gets to own and operate many other tools – cars, explosives, even pseudoephedrine – because their use might be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Nor does Rep. Lucas ever ask why most reputable studies show a person is 40 times more likely to shoot himself or herself, a family member or a friend than an intruder. Rep. Lucas would prefer to focus on the one and ignore the other 40.

That’s because Rep. Lucas really likes guns.

Nor does Rep. Lucas want to think much about the fact that the United States leads the world’s industrialized nations in gun-related deaths or violent deaths.

Or that this country sees more casualties annually from gun fire than many war zones.

Or that more Americans die each year within this nation’s borders from gunshots than the United States lost in 10 years of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Pondering such facts would be a violation of “Natural Right,” wouldn’t be addressing the real problem of people who want saner gun laws (!) or would be just evil.

In a different world, we might talk about guns as things that sometimes can be used for good purposes and sometimes can be used for bad purposes. In that different world, we’d talk about whether the good outweighs the bad – or, here’s a novel notion, whether there are changes we could make in law to preserve the good things while limiting the bad ones.

But, in Rep. Lucas’s world, that’s precisely the conversation we never should have.

That’s because Rep. Jim Lucas really likes guns.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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16 Responses to Commentary: The man who really likes guns

  1. Facts, Mr. Krull. Facts.
    You want “more sensible gun laws”. I get it. Here’s a fact, bad guys don’t follow the laws. Please, be specific and offer another gun law, on top of the ones we already have, that will keep a person that doesn’t follow the law from doing a bad thing with a gun. Just one.
    Yes, I love guns! I love what they provide. They are incredibly enjoyable to shoot (let’s go shooting sometime, I’ll provide the guns and ammo!), they help teach responsibility and most of all, they provide me the best means of defending my Life, Liberty and Property against people that want to violently take these from me.
    This is what this country was founded on and this Natural Right to self-defense and self-preservation is what is recognized and protected by the Second Amendment and Article 1 Section 32 of the Indiana State Constitution.
    These protections in the Preamble are very plainly written Mr. Krull. As a director of a School of Journalism, I would expect you, of all people, to understand plainly written words. The Preamble to the Bill of Rights plainly states – “THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
    “in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added” – Repeated for effect!
    This really is as simple as it can get, Mr. Krull. These protections were put in place against governments, activist judges, and even journalists using the great power of their position to erode or infringe upon these Rights.
    To be personally mentioned over 20 times in an article that offers not one specific solution, and the fact that you have not once contacted me for an interview, speaks volumes Mr. Krull.
    Bad people will do bad things. I love that guns provide and enable the innocent peaceful person, men and women, to protect themselves against bad people, Mr. Krull.
    Please, think about this last statement.

    • I am thinking about that last statement. As a regular reader of the crime page of our local blat, I would estimate that for every story I see about some innocent person defending themselves successfully against a “bad” person, I’ll bet I read 500 about someone using a gun to commit a crime or kill someone else (usually ex-wife or ex-girl friend, sometimes just another “bad” person) or to kill themselves (often after taking a few other innocent people with them). The fact is, the world is not composed of just “bad” people and “innocent” people, it is composed of all different kinds of people, some of whom can go seriously off the rails. The fact that our country is swamped with deadly weapons can make it very costly when they do.

      Another point. Is the Second Amendment really all that clearly written? What’s that “militia” business all about? And what if one does not believe in “Natural Law,” but rather that law is the product of custom, legislation and judicial decisions?

    • Rep. Lucas, if you want facts, here are a few:
      Roughly 32,000 people die by gun each year in the United States. That’s almost twice the population of Seymour. That means someone in America dies by gun every 16 minutes.
      We lost 6,801 brave Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan in 10 years of war. That’s a bit more than 20 percent of the number of Americans we lose here at home to gunshots in a single year.
      Our death-by-gun rate per 100,000 people is 150 times higher than Great Britain’s. It is nearly 600 percent higher than Canada’s. The only developed nation that is even remotely close to us is Chile, which is a good 40 percent behind us. In fact, our death-by-gun rate is 20 times higher than the average of all of the other industrialized nations in the world combined.
      You say that bad people do bad things.
      By that reasoning, you must mean that there are more bad people in the United States than any other developed nation in the world. Twenty times more bad people than all the other developed nations in the world on average, in fact – or 150 times more in the case of Great Britain.
      I had no idea we Americans were that immoral.
      I’m intrigued by your seeming assumption that I haven’t fired a gun. I have. I’ve even hunted. I know it is fun. But lots of things that are fun also are dangerous. Context matters. I like to drive 70 miles an hour but I don’t do it in a school zone and I recognize society’s right to say that I shouldn’t.
      I’m also intrigued by your argument that journalists somehow are part of government. I guess the Second Amendment is the only one you pay much attention to, and your reading of that seems – how shall I say this diplomatically? – idiosyncratic.
      As to your complaint that I didn’t contact you for an interview, I guess I made the mistake of assuming that you meant what you wrote and were willing to stand behind the words to which you attached your name. I’ll know better next time.
      As for a suggestion on how to make things better, here’s one: Keep guns away from schools and other places our children work and play.
      But I suspect you’re not going to listen to me or anyone else on that one.

  2. Mr. Krull, please site your source on gun deaths each year. Could it be that your number has about 60% of those deaths being suicides? My source, the FBI, stated that there were 8,855 homicides by firearms in 2012 – http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2008-2012.xls.
    You might want to research the rise in violent crime in Great Britain before you go using them as a comparison. Plus, civilians used their guns to free themselves from their tyranny.
    Car in a school zone … bad analogy Mr. Krull. As far as I know, the government, or journalists, or anyone else for that matter, aren’t advocating that your car be taken away from you to prevent you from possibly/maybe driving 70 miles an hour in a school zone. Even though you COULD do this, and possibly kill/injure (here’s the “what if” part) lots of innocent people (see the fact below) you still get to operate your vehicle. You’re advocating that I not even be allowed to have my gun on school property (with you speeding by), even though I’m being responsible with it. It’s not the object (car or gun) Mr. Krull, it’s the person operating it.
    Regarding vehicles and guns, and which is deadlier. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 33,561 people killed with vehicles in 2012 – http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA+Data+Confirms+Traffic+Fatalities+Increased+In+2012. That means that there are almost 4 times as many people killed with cars each year than with firearms. Care to guess what the number one killer of teenagers is? Teenager texting and driving or me with my gun locked in my car on school property … http://www.cdc.gov/MotorVehicleSafety/Teen_Drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html. It looks like the real deadly weapon in a school parking lot is a vehicle. I find it weirdly ironic that you’re advocating that I not be allowed to lock my firearm in a deadly weapon on school property.
    I never stated that journalists were part of government. I merely alluded to the fact that some abuse their First Amendment right by being irresponsible with the facts. Remember Mr. Krull, with great rights come great responsibility.
    What words have I not been willing to stand behind?
    As far as listening to you about taking away a persons Natural Right to defend themselves. No, I will not!

    • Rep. Lucas,
      Thanks for responding. I think you pretty much demonstrate that you’re not going to listen to anyone but the NRA on the subject of guns – including the issue of keeping them away from our kids – but we’ll run this out, anyway.
      My sources were United Nations and Centers for Disease Control numbers. I did include the suicide and accidental death numbers because I anticipated that you would dismiss them as unimportant to the discussion. The family and friends they leave behind tend to take a different view. (And, by the way, we Americans also lead the world – by a large margin – in suicide by gun.)
      But, why don’t we use your number, since you seem to be happy with it. Even that figure shows that in one year in this country we lost more Americans to homicide by gun – and that, by the way, is the leading method of homicide – than we lost in 10 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 30 percent more, in fact. It was deadlier to be here at home than it was to be sent to war.
      That’s something to be proud of, don’t you think?
      And, I remind you, those are your numbers, not mine.
      I note that you don’t dispute that we lead the developed world in gun-related deaths. You take issue with Great Britain’s numbers. Fine. Pick another country. Any developed country. Show me one developed country that has a higher death-by-gun rate than we do.
      I also chose the car analogy because I guessed you’d run the NRA playbook – if the numbers don’t work for your argument, find a way to change the subject – on that one and talk about the number of deaths by automobile versus the number by gun. We’ll set aside the question of a car’s utility as opposed to a gun’s temporarily so that we can talk about this strictly on your terms. (And we’ll also set aside the fact that the entire number of gun-related deaths pretty much matches the car-related deaths number you cite as horrific.)
      Are you arguing that we take a similar, NRA-style approach to regulating cars? Should we make it harder for law enforcement to share records of past violations? Should we not check to see if there are drunken driving arrests on record before we issue a license? Should we even issue a license at all? Is it even fair for us to set speed limits or tell drivers which side of the road to drive on – or even if they should stay on the road – or is that an infringement of basic freedom?
      If cars are deadlier than guns and relaxing restrictions regarding guns is the way to make us safer, shouldn’t we ease up on cars to make things safer, too?
      That seems to be your logic. If easing up makes us safer, shouldn’t we get rid of most traffic laws – including the one banning texting and driving? Isn’t free speech, regardless of whether one is driving and regardless of the medium, a “natural right,” too?
      I also note that you immediately leapt to saying that I want to take your guns away. You NRA true believers must love propping up and knocking down that straw man for the exercise value it provides. I don’t want to take your guns away any more than I want to take your car away.
      Because I don’t want people driving 70 miles per hour in a school zone doesn’t mean that I want to prevent them from driving everywhere.
      Similarly, there’s a lot of territory between saying that I don’t want guns near schools and children and saying I want to take your guns away – a lot of room for reasonable people to find compromises that serve the greater good. You’ve made it abundantly clear, though, that you’re not willing to cover an inch of that ground to meet people who are concerned about gun violence.
      (And, as a side note, I find your assurance that the guns will be kept in locked cars on school grounds amusing. How, without violating people’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, are we going to check that the car is locked until something awful has happened? There’s no probable cause to check unless there’s evidence of some other transgression. So the whole “the-car-will-be-locked” assurance is a false one, isn’t it? Or are you suggesting that we waive Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections in school parking lots just so we can be assured that the guns that you assure us won’t be used there are in fact locked up?)
      You also skipped over the question of context. It’s one thing to yell fire falsely in a corn field. It’s another thing altogether to yell it in a crowded theater.
      Similarly, it’s one thing to take a gun with you out into the woods and another altogether to take it to school with you. Because I object to the latter doesn’t mean that I want stop you from doing the former.
      You talk about responsibility. I’m fulfilling one here.
      You’re the lawmaker who did the most to bring deadly weapons close to schools and children. I have a responsibility to let people know who they can thank for that.
      Thanks again for writing.

  3. Mr. Krull, I quoted you facts. Each death is tragic, but in a country of over 310 million people and an average of 2.5 million deaths a year, there is going to be tragedy and death. Being a moral human being, and parent, I believe we should take every reasonable step of preventing those deaths that are preventable. Sadly, there are far too many people that want to infringe upon our Natural Right to defend ourselves against preventable death/violence. I simply cannot comprehend why this is so difficult to understand.
    I find it strangely ironic that you mock me regarding our Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections, while you completely ignore our Second Amendment and state Constitution protections. I never “assured” you of anything regarding people ever leaving them in an unlocked vehicle, but there is a provision in that bill regarding this. An A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $5,000 fine. This is pretty stiff for an unintentional (or intentional) act that in and of itself harms no one. You say you don’t want to take my guns away, but severely restricting where I can carry them seriously restricts my ability to lawfully carry them and defend myself or loved ones. Again, Gun Free Zones have not proven to be so gun free and are nothing more than easy victim zones for those that don’t obey laws.
    You’re right about me working very hard to restore the Natural Right of people to defend themselves. If you think I find your proclamation of reporting this intimidating, you’re wrong. I am simply working very hard to protect people from people that want to infringe upon this Right and, judging by the numbers of LTCH applications, firearms sales, and exploding awareness of this issue, I am doing the right thing.
    Please, keep responding as long as you feel the need. This gives those that read this site an opportunity to judge for themselves who makes more sense on this topic.

    • Rep. Lucas,
      Thanks for responding.
      If you think reminding people of something you took pride in doing is a threat, you must live in a fairly sheltered world.
      I doubt that we’ll reach any resolution because, again, I don’t think you’re open to any point of view but your own on this.
      For the record, though, I do acknowledge the protections within the Second Amendment and the state constitution, but, as both the Supreme Court and current practice acknowledge, those constitutional provisions leave room for sensible regulation. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to set up metal detectors to keep guns and other deadly weapons out of the Statehouse and other government buildings.
      I guess that’s a gun-free zone that works, huh?
      Everyone who reads this will notice a couple of things.
      The first is that your commitment to other parts of the Constitution is nowhere near as devout as your commitment to your strange interpretation of Second Amendment as an absolute right. (The way you tap-danced away from acknowledging any commitment to the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments was entertaining.) So I guess telling you that you can’t take a gun to a school for safety reasons infringes upon your Second Amendment rights, but telling someone he or she can’t text and drive for safety reasons doesn’t infringe upon his or her First Amendment rights?
      So much for absolute natural rights.
      The second is that you shifted the numbers and ducked the question about developed countries that have higher death-by-gun rates around the world. That’s doubtless because you couldn’t find one.
      Again, for the record, I don’t want to take your guns away, but I don’t think you have an absolute right to take them anywhere you want to any more than any other constitutional protection is an absolute right. Our constitutions are and always have been balancing acts.
      So, we’ll turn this around.
      Are there any gun regulations or restrictions that you would endorse? Any at all? Any place that guns shouldn’t go or any weapons that people just shouldn’t have? Any?
      Thanks again for writing.
      John

  4. I’m trying to think of what common sense gun regulations would have enabled the Founding Fathers to accomplish what that did with their civilian-owned firearms, which were of equal to their military small arms of the day. How about we hold people accountable for their actions, instead of playing “catch and release”?

  5. My apologies for the grammar/spelling in my last post. Trying to type while walking on my cell phone obviously is not one of my strong points!

    • Rep. Lucas,
      I won’t hold you accountable for the grammar or the typing, but I will for the history.
      The most thorough scholarship of the Revolutionary War period revealed that less than 10 percent of the population brought their own guns to the fighting. That is why George Washington constantly pestered Congress to provide him with firearms because the men who came to fight didn’t bring their own. That also is why it was so important for the colonies to bring France into the fight and to continue negotiating large loans from the Dutch. Without that foreign assistance, they wouldn’t have had a way to buy food, clothes or military-style guns and keep fighting.
      The myth that the continental militia won our freedom is, sadly, just a myth. Much of the military leadership, including Washington, had relatively little use for the militia and knew that the war would be won by keeping a regular army on the field. The longer he did that, the more money the British would have to spend and eventually the effort to subjugate the colonies would fail.
      And that’s pretty much what happened.
      The myth that untrained citizens won us our freedom is pretty to think, but not grounded in much historical truth.
      Thanks again for reading and writing.
      John

  6. 10% of our population is over 30 million decently armed people, which would make it the largest army on earth. It’s simply about freedom, Mr. Krull. Hold accountable those that actually do something wrong and not infringe upon those of us that are peaceful and innocent.
    Do you believe a person has the right to defend theirself?

  7. “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.” Second Amendment
    Who do you think made up the Militia Mr. Krull, and what is it that shall not be infringed?

    • Rep. Lucas,
      Thanks for writing.
      Actually, the militia members in the Revolutionary War were the men (and boys) who didn’t want to leave home to fight in the Continental Army. When they did fight in actual combat, they were ineffective because they lacked military discipline. Where they did perform well was as a kind of police force preserving order on the home front – largely by preventing the British from encouraging slave uprisings. That’s not exactly the heroic image of militia NRA and other gun devotees like to present, but history rarely is as romantic as the picture books.
      That’s why you miss the point in regard to the militia and the Revolutionary War. Having armed but poorly trained people actually hindered the war effort and the drive for freedom. (I also note that, while you hone in on the “militia” language in the Second Amendment, you – and all NRA true believers – skip right over the “well-regulated” part.)
      I’ll answer your question about self-defense, even though you’ve avoided answering mine about any restraints or regulations on guns or whether you would apply the same absolute standards to other constitutional protections. Yes, we do have a right to defend ourselves, but it doesn’t trump every other consideration. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be able to prevent people from taking guns to the Statehouse or even owning their own nuclear weapons. It isn’t an absolute right, but one subject to the same balancing acts as all other rights.
      But I think this exercise has revealed a great deal. From your responses and non-responses, we have learned the following:
      1) You think your right to carry a gun anywhere you want – including where our children study and play – trumps every other consideration. The fact that people in the United States die by gun at a rate 20 times higher – 2000 percent higher – than the average of the other developed nations in the world is apparently an acceptable cost for you to be able to carry your gun anywhere you want. I think the language of the U.S. and Indiana constitutions allows room for sensible regulations and that we ought to try to find some way to slow or stop the bloodshed.
      2) When asked if there is any place a person should not be able to take a gun or any weapon a person should not be allowed to own, you couldn’t or wouldn’t name one. You don’t seem to place any limits on the weapons people can have or where they can take them.
      3) Your reverence for other parts of the Constitution is nowhere near as fervent as your devotion to your extreme reading of the Second Amendment.
      4) You seem to have a pretty romantic notion of the Revolutionary War as a conflict between redcoats and noble backwoodsmen rather than the brutal, unrelenting and bloody fighting between two well-trained and well-organized armies who battled each other to exhaustion that it really was.
      If I’m in error on where you stand, please correct me. If there are regulations regarding guns that you would embrace, please list them.
      In fact, that would be a good place to start a rational discussion about guns.
      Thanks again for writing.
      John

  8. Mr. Krull, I’m not sure what point I am missing regarding the Militia of Colonial America when the Founding Fathers described them as “being necessary to the security of a free State” in the Second Amendment. Regarding “well regulated”, ask your doctor what “well regulated” means …
    Plus, that whole phrase “shall not be infringed” means what it says. I’m curious, what would you teach your journalism students what the meaning of “shall not” means?

    From your previous query;
    1) “You think your right to carry a gun anywhere you want – including where our children study and play – trumps every other consideration.” – Yes.
    “The fact that people in the United States die by gun at a rate 20 times higher – 2000 percent higher – than the average of the other developed nations in the world is apparently an acceptable cost for you to be able to carry your gun anywhere you want.” – Please cite your source for these stats. I given factual death rates in the US, perspective to other causes of death. I would like to see this source.
    “I think the language of the U.S. and Indiana constitutions allows room for sensible regulations” – How does “shall not be infringed” and “shall have a right” be open for interpretation if they are absolute? As a director of journalism, you should know this.
    “and that we ought to try to find some way to slow or stop the bloodshed.” – Have the judges quit playing catch-and-release with bad guys.
    2) “When asked if there is any place a person should not be able to take a gun or any weapon a person should not be allowed to own, you couldn’t or wouldn’t name one.” – See Second Amendment and Article 1 Section 32. Gun Free Zones are nothing more than killing fields for innocent people. We’ve seen this all too often and tragically in public, at schools, college campuses, military installations, movie theaters, etc.
    “You don’t seem to place any limits on the weapons people can have or where they can take them.” – I believe the term “arms” refers to what a person can carry and what they can use to reasonably fight back against a foe or tyrannical government with. Maybe we could take a look at what we are providing foreign fighters with to fight what we are classifying as a tyrannical government and we could use that as a foundation for what we consider appropriate here at home.
    3) “Your reverence for other parts of the Constitution is nowhere near as fervent as your devotion to your extreme reading of the Second Amendment.” – Where have you gotten this from? I respect your right to use the First Amendment to speak your mind about my belief in the Second Amendment, but I don’t support the abuse of rights. I believe the Fourth is being shredded with planned traffic stops, no knock raids, the NSA and a gazillion other government alphabet agencies. The Ninth and Tenth are virtually ignored, for now, and I pray for us to start recognizing them! So, I am at a loss here ….
    4) “You seem to have a pretty romantic notion of the Revolutionary War as a conflict between redcoats and noble backwoodsmen rather than the brutal, unrelenting and bloody fighting between two well-trained and well-organized armies who battled each other to exhaustion that it really was.” – Mr. Krull, as a former Marine, who voluntarily enlisted, asked to be an 0311 (Infantry), and was Honorman in boot camp, I understand war and the horrors of it. I also understand that our country was founded on good people, who were armed, and who had the courage to stand up to tyranny. Please, go back and read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. As a director of journalism, I trust you are teaching your students the proper meaning of words? Ask your students what “shall not” and “shall have” mean. Read to them the Preamble to the Bill of Rights and ask what the first paragraph means. It appears that you are trying to twist the simple words of what is plainly written.
    “If I’m in error on where you stand, please correct me.” – I just did.
    “If there are regulations regarding guns that you would embrace, please list them.” – This is simple, hold accountable those that abuse their rights, but don’t infringe upon those that haven’t.
    As Montesquieu once quoted – “Bad laws weaken necessary laws.”

    • Rep. Lucas,
      Thank you again for writing. You are nothing if not obsessive when it comes to guns.
      I’ll keep this brief because my guess is that we lost the audience four exchanges ago and you’ve already given me enough for another column.
      Sources for the numbers of gun-related deaths are easy to find:
      http://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2012/07/20/america-is-a-violent-country/
      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/
      http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/
      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10881&page=R1
      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10881&page=R1
      And The Washington Post pulled many sources together for a handy chart:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/14/chart-the-u-s-has-far-more-gun-related-killings-than-any-other-developed-country/
      I’m glad to hear that you are concerned about other parts of the Bill of Rights, too. What puzzles me is that you don’t seem to see the inconsistency in your position. In the interest of public safety, you say that we can limit someone’s First Amendment right to express herself or himself by texting while driving – but, even in the face of public safety concerns, we can’t limit a person’s Second Amendment rights ever.
      It seems that, as far as you’re concerned, the Second Amendment is the only absolute right and the others are negotiable.
      For the record, I don’t think banning texting while driving is a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights any more than telling the same person that he or she can’t take guns to schools or the Statehouse is. We’re not telling them they can’t speak or own a weapon. We’re just telling them that in the public sphere the public interest must be considered, too.
      As to your points about language, I note that you again attempt to evade the fact that the drafters left room for gun regulation in the Second Amendment by adding the words “well-regulated” and making those words a condition – a point Justice Scalia, hardly a gun-control fan, acknowledged in the Heller decision. The jibe you used to cover your evasion was funny. I chuckled.
      You ask what I teach students about understanding words. One thing I would teach them is that Montesquieu didn’t quote, “Bad laws weaken necessary laws.” He said it and you quoted him saying it. To quote is to repeat and attribute.
      But I don’t want to leave this on that note.
      I do want to thank you for your service to our country and to our state. Even though you seem more than a bit obsessive on the subject of guns, you otherwise strike me as a pretty decent guy and I know you have been generous with your time in regard to working with our reporters at The Statehouse File. I appreciate that.
      I’ll save whatever other points I want to make for future columns because I think in this forum we’re just talking between the two of us at this point. If you want to have the last word, it’s all yours.
      Thank you again for writing, for your service and for working with our students.
      John

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