2nd Amendment is not sacrosanct

To the Editor:

A letter last week included some good ideas regarding assault rifles. Registration could be required of weapons with military design and capability just as is required for ownership of machine guns and for the same reasons. The contention that Constitutional rights and freedoms are absolute is not quite correct. My rights end when they intrude on the rights of other people.

The Second Amendment is not sacrosanct. Look at the First Amendment: It guarantees free speech and the right to assemble, among other things, but that doesn't mean people can say anything they want or assemble anywhere at any time. There are laws against libel and slander, you can't violate personal privacy without some risk and you can be imprisoned for releasing national secrets. Having rallies and marches can be controlled by local governments and permits can be withheld for public safety reasons. No one questions these restrictions because they benefit the public good.

There is no reason not to implement stringent background checks, age requirements, waiting periods, and anything else that keeps guns out of the hands of unstable or potentially dangerous people. No reason, that is, except a lack of courage and commitment by our elected officials and an inability to stand up to the NRA. Congress and Trump need to grow a spine as well as a conscience.

I think if reasonable people came together to work on solutions, a lot could be agreed on that would comply with the Second Amendment and move us toward greater safety from gun violence.

Thomas Beck


Christian morality in government

To the Editor:

I’m hunkered down for rain and snow. It’s apparently not cold enough to open shelters for the homeless. Rocks now hinder access to their camp off Washington Street. I’m reminded of when the Sonora City Council chose the Christmas season to raid homeless camps, after inscribing “in God we trust” on the chamber’s wall.

We credit America with saving Western civilization in two world wars. Words of the founders, Lincoln, JFK inspire the world. The UN Declaration of the Rights of Man was written by Eleanor Roosevelt. Postwar institutions resulted from American leadership. Yes, we remember the past, genocide of native peoples, segregation, Jim Crow, prohibition’s criminality, futile wars, Vietnam. But the United States personified the right side of history, a people decent and generous. McCarthyism, Nixon, these were aberrations. Then came Reagan: undermining the graduated income tax, closing mental institutions, beginning to dismantle the liberal New Deal safety net. Since Reagan working people’s income has flatlined.

The Republican Party favored business, but Nixon signed legislation for clean air and water. A reasonable person might identify with either party. No longer. Trump eulogizes Billy Graham. Graham initiated the GOP’s takeover of American Christianity.

We were privileged to know Father Stanley Rother, the first of only two Americans to be canonized. Father Stan was martyred under “born again” Guatemalan president Rios Montt, a product of the infamous School of the Americas. Reagan continued the policies of Operation Condor, which had overthrown Arbenz in Guatemala, Mosagegh in Iran, among other democratically elected leaders.

Father Stan lived, and died, following Christ’s teachings. A Swiss Protestant school (ELA) I attended taught the same admirable, charitable, decent Christian principles, which, as a secular Humanist, I still admire. Most Jews, most American Muslims, most Latinos, and I would hope most American Christians still share these values.

Paolo Maffei


Live and let live

To the Editor:

It seems that in this life freedom is not free but must be fought for. It must especially be protected from those with dictatorial leanings who would impose their narrow view of the world upon others.

Whether the issue is gun rights or cannabis rights, no matter how righteous or unjust, some loudly blame others for their woes. They are not content to only instruct their own selves as they see fit but seek to compel others and angrily oppose those who struggle to exercise their rights. As long as there are those who create problems where there were none before, who cannot live and let live, we will all be occupied with fighting one another as our freedoms erode.

Mike Mechanic


Send a message against violence

To the Editor:

We Americans have created and live in a culture of violence. This is the cause of the violent acts we experience. And we can do something about it. We can individually adopt an attitude of caring for our fellow human beings. And we can demand that our government support and foster an attitude of caring.

Gun control? True, spoons don’t cause obesity, but stocking the larder with candy can make it easier and more likely that a person inclined to assuage feelings of depression and hopelessness by overeating might try to feel better by grabbing a convenient candy bar. Likewise, in our country flooded with weapons, a person in psychic pain, influenced by the idea that problems can be solved through violent action, may find it all too easy and convenient to bear arms against their neighbors. Gun control laws may not solve the whole problem, but they can impede access to guns by those who should not have them, and they send the message that we, as a society, don’t support violence, and suggest that we should try to work out our problems and differences peacefully, with empathy and mutual respect for the rights and welfare of each other.

But what about the second amendment to the Constitution? Not enough space for that discussion in this letter, but I will write about that later.

Phil Nichols


The high court and gun control

To the Editor:

The 2nd Amendment affirms, It does not prohibit, the peoples right to gun control. The 14th Amendment gives you the right to protect your person and property. Both allow for the people to put limits and controls on what weapons you may own.

The same old argument that, “taking away my AR-15 violates my 2nd Amendment rights” has been long negated by the United States Supreme Court.

I wrote about this fact over 20 years ago, but more recently my position has been confirmed by the likes of the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the historic decision — District of Columbia vs. Heller (historic because it defined gun rights not solely based on the 2nd Amendment).

This decision clarified many issues related to guns. First of all, it did protect the rights of residents to the “self defense of their homes and persons in their homes.” This protection and right is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

The Supreme Court ruled on many issues in D.C. vs. Heller (2nd) as well as McDonald vs. Chicago (14th). But what these rulings upheld was our right to restrict what weapons can be owned (e.g. National Firearms Act of 1934), who may own them, etc.

There can be limits set by both our Federal and a state’s governments. This includes types of weapons, ammunition clip capacity, and other gun related paraphernalia such as armor piercing, vests, silencers, etc. (Source - 10th Amendment)

Our “unalienable rights” as contained in the Declaration of Independence — “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…,” — it’s not “shelter in place,” “armed teachers,” “lock down,” “duck and cover,” ad nausea.

Join tens of thousands of students across America on March 24th (and other dates) as they stand up to the gun lobby and politicians and take back our “unalienable rights.”

Domenic Torchia