Pattye Benson

Community Matters

2nd Amendment

When will the madness end?

When will the madness end?

The last 48 hours has seen a horrible surge of sadness and anger from Americans all across the country. Another mass shooting. Another one committed by a young man. One of the worst mass shootings in America, as if such rankings matter. From Arizona to Colorado to Oregon to Connecticut, these mass murders will not end.

Innocent children losing their lives. In the wake of the unspeakable horror of children being killed while at school, isn’t it time for us to have an earnest national conversation on effective gun control laws? Will the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut mark a tipping point for the American people to say enough is enough? When are we going to have the responsibility to take care of each other?

It’s past time to face reality. This is a firearms issue. Can we finally have a rational discussion about the role of guns in our society … please? The truth is that people with guns kill people. Sandy Hook is the sixth gun massacre this year. How frequent do the massacres have to become before we can talk about serious gun control? We, as a nation, need to do better.

For the same reason we are trying to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s arsenal, we should keep semi-automatic weapons out of individuals’ hands. Gun control doesn’t have to mean no guns. Arguments can be made for shotguns and rifles for hunting and handguns for protection. But it’s time to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The only purpose of a semi-automatic weapon is to kill numerous people as quickly as possible. What role would a semi-automatic weapon have for hunting or self-defense? Yes, mentally ill people kill other people, but the types of weapons they have access to will determine how many people they are able to kill.

The NRA, which objects to any kind of reasonable controls on gun ownership, is certainly part of the problem. Semiautomatic guns and large clips make for mass shootings that are almost impossible to defend against. Owning or possessing automatic weapons should be illegal for anyone except the military and the police. Why does a hunter or anyone else need an assault rifle, except to kill people? Outlawing automatic weapons can be done without disturbing the rights of individuals to have and carry pistols and long guns for personal protection and hunting.

While the Second Amendment was meant for protection, guns without regulations give way to nothing but widespread violence and tragedies. As a country, we need to collectively reconsider the arguments of individual rights in light of the harm done to the thousands of innocent victims shot each year. I support amending our Constitution to limit the types of weapons that one might bear. Automatic weapons, with rapid-firing of many bullets, do not seem to be in the scope or spirit of the Constitution. Your right to bear arms should not mean that you could carry a bazooka or a stinger missile; automatic weapons have no place in a civilized society.

Today I grieve for the families who are in mourning. Today I grieve for an angry, violent society that has lost its way.

Enough … it is time to call for action.

Bambi May Soon Have Another Day to Worry About Hunters

It has been awhile since I visited the topic of gun control and 2nd amendment rights on Community Matters. For those that followed the gun control discussion, you may recall my dismay last year over the federal legislation that lifted the ban on guns in national parks (including Valley Forge).

The blog post, Semi-Automatic Weapons in Valley Forge National Historical Park . . . Do You Feel Safer? generated much debate in the 50+ comments on guns in national parks, many from 2nd Amendment supporters. As a result, my naïveté on guns and gun controls was put to the test. That discussion extended to a broader discussion of gun control in our community. I learned that many living in this community not only supported their right as an American to bear arms, but that it was clear from comments, that many did!

Although not swayed by the overwhelming pro-gun rights comments, I did find myself sitting in the minority; continuing to support stricter gun control rules. I wrote, ” . . . I know the argument that strict gun control does not reduce crime because it does not keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not abide by waiting periods or registration requirements. The only people affected by these so-called ‘gun control’ measures are law-abiding citizens, who are rendered less able to resist crime. However almost daily, our world is filled with news of gun violence in this country . . . in shopping malls, on college campuses, office buildings. . . “

In addition to discussing 2nd amendment rights and gun-control issues, Community Matters visited the subject of the overpopulation of deer in the area, specifically in Valley Forge National Historical Park. With a two-year plan in place, skilled sharp shooters began last winter to reduce the deer population from 1,250 to 200 in the park. Although I cringed at the idea of guns in Valley Forge Park and the shooting of deer, I took solace in knowing that 7,000 pounds of venison was donated to the needy.

At this point, I am sure you are wondering why this walk down memory lane? Answer: deer hunting. I do not claim to know much about deer hunting – I actually don’t know the dates of deer hunting season. I do not know when it is ‘bow’ season any more than I know when it is gun season for deer hunting, nor do I know many deer per hunter is allowed – just don’t know any of the specifics. I am not a hunter so why would I need to know this information. As a “stricter gun control supporter”, and probably not likely to become a deer hunter, I do admit I was interested to learn of House Bill 1760 that would allow deer hunting on Sundays. Deer hunting on Sundays . . . ? I didn’t know that Sunday deer hunting was illegal in Pennsylvania. Apparently, hunters in Pennsylvania can legally kill foxes, coyotes and crows on Sunday, just not deer. Pennsylvania is one of 9 states that do not permit Sunday deer hunting.

According to a recent Daily Local article, “ . . . Sunday hunting is expected to generate $629 million in additional spending and create up to 5,300 new jobs, resulting in $18 million in additional sales and income tax. . . ” In addition, Sunday hunting is expected to generate a substantial increase in out-of-state license revenue.

So here’s my question. . . if the current law allows deer hunting 6 days a week, why not allow hunting all 7 days of the week? I may not be a gun-supporter nor a deer hunter (and I appreciated that I am in the minority) but I don’t understand ‘why’ deer hunters cannot hunt on Sundays? I guess I can see the purpose of House Bill 1760 – if you support deer hunting 6 days a week, why not support deer hunting on Sundays.

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