Forgive me if I seem egocentric here. My sister has lived in Connecticut most of her adult life, where her husband is a recently retired math professor at the University of Connecticut. Her home is in Storrs, where UConn has its main campus, in the northeastern corner of the state, at least a two-hour drive from the scene of the school massacre in Newtown, CT. She’s informed me that she met one of the victims once, because she was a family friend of a UConn colleague. This victim was the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 56 years of age.

I also recall that I had a similarly remote connection to one of the victims of the attack on Mumbai, India in 2008, again through my sister. Her oldest son had a colleague, an Indian-American, who was murdered by the Islamist terrorists because he was discovered to be a U.S. citizen.

What’s that notion of all of us being connected within just a few degrees of separation? Regardless, anyone with a modicum of human feeling will be moved by such terrible events.

I know, as discussed on this blog, that we need to wrestle with more profound cultural changes than passing some laws or regulations. But I dearly hope that this time, this horror provides enough momentum to outlaw assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. We may not yet be able to win the battle to outlaw all handguns — pistols actually take many more lives than rapid-fire assault weapons — but we can make progress on that front as well.

For example, we need to chip away at the mistaken notion that the Second Amendment to the Constitution is about the private ownership of firearms:

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.

Hey, Supreme Court, we no longer have militias, which used to be “regulated,” that is organized and commanded by colonial authorities and then the states during the early years of this country. The National Guard, which is still organized on the state level, is the direct descendent of these militias.

Hey Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alitto, here’s the “historical origin” upon which you supposedly base your decisions: The Bill of Rights, as the first ten amendments to the Constitution are known, was passed to assure the states that their powers would not be eclipsed by the new Federal government that they were creating. In 18th century American parlance, “the rights of the people” are virtually synonymous with the powers and prerogatives of the individual states.

Unless you’re a member of the National Guard or some other legal military or police authority, you have no Constitutional right to a gun. It’s another debate as to whether the citizenry should be totally disarmed, but this was not meant as a right reserved to the individual.

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