Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My First Guest Post

Hi everyone! Although this is not entirely related to the general theme of the blog, I successfully submitted a guest post to a popular Jewish blog, run by Rabbi Harry Maryles of Chicago. You can check it out here:, and read the 60+ comments!

Feel free to respond, and thanks again for your collective continued support! As I am currently on winter vacation, I am enjoying a break from being online. After the new year, I will be committed to posting more regularly.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guest Post

Hey everyone! Following up on the discussion here regarding gun control, I decided to contact representatives of the widely-respected U.K. group, called the Gun Control Network (GCN). You can access their website here:

From the GCN website: "All our activities and objectives are predicated on the belief that the interests of public safety demand a reduction in the availability and attractiveness of firearms of all kinds.  No reasonable person doubts the fundamental connection between the number of guns there are in a society and the prevalence of gun homicide, suicide and accident.

Almost all guns start out legal and there is no clear demarcation between legal and illegal weapons.  Therefore what is needed is legislation to control the availability of legal weapons and law enforcement to control the illegal ones." 

GCN representatives very kindly responded to my email, where I asked them to consider posting on the blog. We both decided it was incredibly important for all the readers of this blog to hear a U.K perspective on this issue, and what we can do to prevent gun violence. The GCN is at the forefront of the battle to reduce injuries, accidents, and deaths by firearms. Some of their objectives involve tightening gun licensing, increasing the license fee to cover the cost of making a more rigorous gun control system, establishing a National Gun Hotline, so people can contact authorities immediately if they feel they are concerned about someone the know with a gun, as well as myriads of other creative solutions to end this problem. 

In the wake of the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, many politicians have been saying that we cannot politicize this horrific event, and that now is not the time for dialogue. I too said this in the days following the shooting. However, now, I realize that it is of utmost importance that we act to tighten gun laws, so that this doesn't happen again. Below is a post written by GCN representative Chrissie. Much thanks is to do Mr. Peter Squires and Georgina of the GCN, for kindly responding to my queries and agreeing to post. Below are Chrissie's comments completely unedited:

"We have been following this blog on the subject of firearms with interest, and would like to offer our comments and UK perspective to this debate. The UK has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world, making it one of the safest places in the world to live, and members of the UK organisation send their sympathy and support to those affected by the tragic shooting in Newton. 

GCN was formed in 1996 following a school gun massacre in Dunblane, Scotland when a gunman entered a school and shot dead sixteen 5 and 6 year old's and their teacher. As a result of our campaign, and with overwhelming support from the public, the media, and Members of UK Parliament, handguns were banned from private ownership in the UK in 1997.

The population of the United States is approximately five times that of the UK. Therefore, it would be expected that the firearms deaths in the United States would be five times greater than in the UK. There were 42 recorded firearms related deaths in the UK in the first half of 2012, and less than half of those were homicides. There are approximately 11,000 gun homicides in the United States every year.

National comparisons show a clear correlation between the number of guns in society and the number of related incidents see

The United States is suffering from an appalling number of gun massacres, but given the number of firearms in private ownership these frequent gun tragedies are not surprising, they are to be expected. This national sickness will not be remedied by endless speculation about the motives of perpetrators, or by arming more teachers, nurses, or shopping mall workers, because every armed individual is a potential perpetrator. Those familiar ill thought out flawed arguments regarding road traffic accidents and swimming pool drownings divert attention from the real issue - guns are designed to kill, cars and swimming pools are not.
The evidence is clear, there is hope of an improvement in the condition of the patient, but only if the patient is willing to try."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good Evening. I'm sure all the readers of this blog are aware of the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut this past Friday. Using a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and a couple handguns, Adam Lanza was able to force his way into the school, and kill 20 children as well as 6 adults, before ending his bloody rampage by pulling the gun on himself. It is a horror that such an event took place in the United States of America. This kind of disgusting massacre cannot happen again.

In the wake of the catastrophic shooting, which was the 2nd deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, many have been determined to re-open the controversial issue of gun control for discussion around America. Ironically, we just had this debate, with great arguments from both sides, a mere few days ago! Many have argued that this kind of shooting clearly demonstrates why there need to be stricter regulations, and more control on guns. Others have responded by saying this is a rare case, and that most law-abiding citizens would never use guns in this despicable manner. But is the death of 20 children, whose lives were cruelly cut drastically short, a fair price to pay for the right to own a gun? These are all good questions, and most have of them have complex, multi-faceted answers.

But there is one thing I do know. I do not want to argue about gun control for a few more days, or perhaps even a week. Days after such a tragedy, we as Americans should be united in our care, prayers, and hopes for the families that lost their children. We should stand together and do all that is in our power to make sure that they are able to continue living, and we must make sure that these grieving parents know we care.

To politicize such a tragedy is, in my opinion, tasteless. The debate about gun control will definitely be had across American dinner tables, and on the Senate floor. However, now is simply not the time.

I just wanted to let you all know that I made a conscious and deliberate choice not to post about gun control right on Friday, after the tragedy. Many are using this tragedy to show why guns have to be regulated. I decided not to do so, in the spirit of American unity and brotherhood. Make what you want of my decision, but as a blogger who pursues truth, and intellectual honesty, I nevertheless could not find myself able to write so soon after this tragedy about the issue, and especially not to promote my own views. While this disaster can arguably be used as a case in point by gun control activists, I am sure that Americans everywhere, regardless of their political affiliations, will be hoping that we make sure this doesn't happen again. What is will take to make sure this doesn't happen again is the gargantuan question facing us tomorrow. Because today is for remembering the victims, and standing in solidarity and care with their anguished families.

May the souls of the victims of this tragedy be bound up in the bond of eternal life, and forever rest in peace.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Gun Debate

Hello again everyone! I apologize for my long absence from blogging. After the holiday season is finished, I will be able to concentrate on this enterprise more fully, so come January 2nd, expect at least tri-weekly posts! 

Anyway, today, I would like to talk about a very pressing issue in our country that has not been given the media attention it deserves, especially in the past year or two. As the title of this post suggests, the topic that I am referring to is the ongoing discussion in our country about what role guns should play in our society. Recently, I had a very lively debate with a classmate of mine about the right of individual Americans to bear arms. The debate was multi-faceted and cannot be transcribed here. However, our disagreement boiled down to a few, salient points. The first point was how to read and interpret the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Beyond the legal technicalities, we argued over the effectiveness of guns at preventing robberies, murders, and other violent crime. And lastly, in a more general sense, if gun ownership should be controlled, to what extent? Are automatic weapons an 'automatic' (no clever wordplay intended) no-no? How about high caliber ammunition? Perhaps you should only be allowed to own a gun if you go through a training course. Perhaps not. 

All of these questions have been grappled with for decades. Our Founding Fathers thought a great deal before writing the Second Amendment, and paid incredibly close attention to detail regarding the exact wording. The American revolutionaries of yore desired to have a unified, powerful government, but at the same time recognized the right of the people to rebel, and to rebel violently if need be, if this government began to behave corruptly, unjustly, or unconstitutionally. Nevertheless, constitutional legal scholars and experts have debated the this issue for years and years, regarding how to interpret this illusive amendment. 

Before we go any further, we must understand what the Second Amendment actually says. Here it is, in its pure, unadulterated form: 
"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." 

There it is. In 2008, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the case District of Columbia v. Heller.

Prior to the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the courts had not yet definitively stated what specific right the Second Amendment protects. There have been many opposing theories, however the court clarified the Second Amendment and now hold that it protects an individual's right to possess a firearm regardless of service in a militia, and to use that weapon for self-defense within the home, or other safety concerns. This right applies not just to the federal government, but to states and municipalities as well.

In this case, the Court ruled that the District of Columbia's proposed ban on handguns was a violation of every Americans' right to 'keep and bear arms.' The District of Columbia was also not allowed to force citizen's to lock their gun when not in use. 

While this ruling may seem like it permits everyone to own any gun at any time, it's not so simple. In 1994, under President Bill Clinton, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was passed. This made the buying or possession of assault (semi-automatic or automatic) weapons illegal. This law expired in 2004. A study done by the United States Department of Justice showed that this bill was not effective in halting crime because in cases of violent crime, people are not likely to be using bulky assault rifles. However, there have been several other very important bills regulating gun possession and usage in America. In 1990, the Gun Free School Zone Act was passed, prohibiting anyone from carrying a gun 1,000 feet of any elementary, middle, or high school. In 31 states today, you are allowed to carry a gun in public without a permit. The Brady Bill, passed in 1993, instituted federal background checks on all those want to purchase a firearm. 

Bottom Line: If you are over the age of 21, are not a convicted felon, have no past criminal history, are mentally stable, and buy from a federally licensed dealer, you can own a gun! At informal gun shows, it is notoriously easy to walk away with a piece of metal that can instantaneously kill a human being. 

While yes, most people keep guns for protection, and in cases of emergency, much of the time, gun ownership results in tragedy. In 2010, there were 8,775 murders from gun violence. Firearms were one of the top ten causes of death in the United States in 2010. Every year, over 200,000 people are hospitalized for non-fatal gun injuries.

Shocking Fact: In a paper done by Dr. Kellerman and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1986, a homeowner's gun is 43 times more likely to kill a family member, friend, or acquaintance than it is to kill a malicious intruder. 

Over the years, school shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech, as well as the recent attempted assassination of Rep. Gabby Giffords by a mentally deranged man have reignited this controversy. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two high school students, were able to two 9 mm guns and 2 twelve-gauge shotguns, as well as a rifle and a semi-automatic handgun. With these tools of destruction, they killed 12 and injured 21 in this disaster. 

How can we make sure this kind of disaster never happens again? Some say the answer is to control guns and gun possession. Others say that gun control advocates often ignore the Second Amendment. 

I have raised the issue. Now it's time for you, as a microcosm of the American people, to respond. What do you think should be the right approach? Are guns dangerous weapons that should be kept out of the hands of all except the military? Or are they a God-given right that government should leave alone? Or somewhere in the middle... Respond in the comments.