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Gun Violence and People with Disabilities

  • Date: 2013/04/25 (Rev. 2016/11/07)
  • Thomas C. Weiss - Disabled World
  • Synopsis : Often the results of gun-related violence in America include not only death but disability as well.

Main Document

The United States Constitution bars nearly any kind of law aimed at curbing gun violence. Yet since a string of mass shooting last year culminating in the Newtown mass shooting that claimed the lives of twenty children there have been an increasing number of people who are pushing back against the gun lobby's interpretation of the Second Amendment. As a veteran who was trained to use weapons, I can understand why.

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.

A readily available 9mm handgun, available through most gun shops in America, fires a bullet that is capable of piercing walls. The same bullet is capable of shattering bones and leaving a person disabled for the rest of their life. The same is true of other weapons that are common in America, such as ones that fire .45 caliber rounds or others. The handguns mentioned do not include the hotly debated rifles and assault weapons presented before our government that are also available in America today.

More than fifty constitutional law scholars signed a letter explaining why the Second Amendment is not unlimited or absolute. Very few of the liberties and rights in the Constitution are absolute. One of these scholars who signed the letter is among America's greatest constitutional law scholars; his name is Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard Law School Professor. Mr. Tribe testified before a Senate Judiciary committee, examining potential ways to decrease gun violence without infringing on the Second Amendment right to bear Arms in our nation.

Through spoken and written testimony, Mr. Tribe made it clear that efforts to reduce and not eliminate gun violence through government action are not beyond America's ability because of the Second Amendment. Recent Supreme Court rulings such as D.C. v. Heller, Mr. Tribe explained, found justices taking certain policy choices off the table for consideration and, "thereby cleared the path to reasonable regulations to be enacted without fear that those policy choices would ever open the door to unlimited government control or be imperiled by exaggerated interpretations of the Second Amendment."

Mr. Tribe also noted that Justice Antonin Scalia stated the court's interpretation of the Constitution leaves open a number of regulatory tools for combating the issue of gun violence in America. In written testimony Mr. Tribe stated, "Proposals to disarm the American people, to leave firearms solely in the hands of the military and the police, have been decisively taken off the table - if they were ever truly on the table - by the Supreme Court's Second Amendment decisions in 2008 and 2010 [Heller and McDonald v. Chicago respectively]." The panic by some Americans over being completely disarmed and left defenseless is unreasonable.

Gun Safety

Violence involving guns is a major problem in the United States of America. A number of people say they want a gun for self-defense, but don't take the time to learn how to use a weapon properly. They do not take any training courses related to the gun they purchase, how to care for it, keep it safe, use it - or any other education related to the weapon.

People who state they want a gun for self-defense also do not seem to understand that self-defense with a gun can be just as dangerous to them as it is to a potential attacker. The fact is - guns kept in your house for self-protection are forty-three times more likely to kill a family member or a friend than to kill in self-defense! Here are some steps to stay safe from gun violence:

  • Never, ever point a gun at anyone
  • Avoid neighbors you know are dangerous
  • Learn to settle arguments with words and not weapons
  • **Always*assume a gun is loaded and has the potential to go off
  • Do not hang around people you know are violent or who have threatened violence towards others
  • Do not put yourself in danger as a bystander - if people you know have guns and are threatening to use them get out of the area and find help

American Gun Laws are not Working

In America, more than 75% of teen killings are gun-related. In fact, an American child or teenager is 12 times more likely to die of a gun injury than a teenager in another developed nation. Approximately 5,000 children and teenagers die of gun-related suicides, homicides, and unintentional injuries every single year in America. For teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19, gun-related killings are the second leading cause of death in this nation.

The politicians of America fight over legislation concerning types of weapons and background checks, at least recently. The powerful gun lobby in this nation defends the rights of Americans to own weapons that quite plainly have no real use for either hunting or home defense. While the statistics above are nothing but shocking, they fail to mention the numbers of children and teenagers who experience disabilities related to guns.

In this writer's opinion, the drivers of vehicles in America are required to have a license as well as insurance and so should gun owners. In order to own a gun, people should either be a veteran of the armed forces or be required to complete training related to the use of the weapon they wish to purchase and own before they can own it. Gun-related violence has reached the point in America where irresponsible ownership of weapons is causing more deaths among children and teenagers than many types of diseases. The results of gun-related violence in this nation include not only death, but disability as well.

Resources and Citations:

Gun Violence Is Public Health Crisis in Chicago

Disability Law Society & American Constitution Society present "Post-Newtown Legal Reforms

Grounded in Faith: Resources on Mental Health and Gun Violence

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