Monday, December 17, 2012

Burnside's Legacy Lives On


Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Burnside is considered one of the most incompetent generals of the Civil War.  The criticism is based on his "leadership" at the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of the Crater.  We can now add another black mark to his legacy.  Burnside was the first president of the National Rifle Association.

Like millions of Americans, I am in mourning for the 26 victims of the attack at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. My prayers and sympathies are with the families.  While a lone, crazed gunman pulled the trigger, he had many accomplices in this tragedy.  The prime suspects are the National Rifle Association and their Congressional lap dogs. 

The NRA stonewalls any attempt to regulate gun control by virtue of their contributions to national elected officials. According to OpenSecrets.org, the NRA contributed $719,596 to Federal candidates in 2012.  The overwhelming number went to Republicans.  Of the top 25 candidates receiving funds 23 were Republicans and 2 Democrats.  The complete list is available at OpenSecrets.org.  The NRA and their paid representatives were notably absent in expressing sympathy to the victims of this recent shooting.  Falling on the side of their own self interests rather than doing the right thing.  Perhaps their silence is a indication of their shame in their role in this horror.

Now here is where things get tricky.  I believe that Americans have the right to own firearms and that most members of the NRA are responsible gun owners who exercise care to restrict access to their weapons and support proper instruction in using rifles and guns.  What I object to is the unwillingness to work with authorities to manage the distribution and ownership of weapons especially high-powered assault rifles.  I know the mantra of the NRA is that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." 

Let me make an analogy with automobiles.  Cars don't kill people either, but we have laws that force automobile drivers to act responsibly.  Just because people don't behave properly, doesn't mean we shouldn't have the laws. In fact, it is this lack of any semblance of responsibility that compels, demands, us to have laws.  While it is impossible to make people use common sense --- don't drink and drive, don't text and drive --- we still have regulations and punishments to help control public behavior.  People who want the privilege or right to drive cars or own guns have a requirement to lead the fight to ensure proper usage of both.  The NRA should reach out to President Obama and the Congress to seek ways to restrict guns to those who use them in a responsible fashion. 

The measure of a society is how we protect those who cannot protect themselves.  On Friday December 14, 2012 we failed the test.  Let us honor their memory by getting these assault weapons off the market. 

1 comment:

Ironose said...

In the vernacular of my youth, right on.