Littleton, Kosovo and the Second Amendment
by Jan Baughman

Millions were riveted to CNN as the events in Littelton, a place we couldn't identify on a map, unfolded. We watched as SWAT teams moved in, kids were rushed out; very little blood in the camera's view only increased the suspense and triggered our imaginations; anxious parents watched and waited; commentators asking Why?; kids wondering how it could happen in their school... Thirteen students were killed by the two assailants. We've learned all about the victims -- their names, their religious backgrounds, their majors, their hobbies, their families, their ambitions. The coverage, the interviews, go on and on.



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.


One wonders if the founding fathers intended a well regulated Militia in every household? And where does the phrase "well regulated" serve its purpose? In the waiting period? The ban on assault weapons? President Clinton proposed limiting the sale of handguns to one per month per person. Yet, according to James Jay Baker, the N.R.A.'s chief legislative lobbyist, this could lead to "none a month". His concern is frightening -- that moving from the purchase of unlimited quantities of guns to "only" twelve guns can be equated to NO guns!?! TWELVE GUNS PER PERSON PER YEAR. Where is the limitation? How steep is the slippery slope? Every person can still be his/her own personal militia.

Mr. Baker also commented on Clinton's proposal to raise the legal age for handgun possession to 21 from 18: "If you can be sent to Kosovo and serve in our armed forces, we certainly think you ought to have the right to have a firearm." If the purpose of owning a gun is NOT to shoot other people, as the N.R.A. would contend, then this reasoning does not hold water. One could foresee an extension of that logic to the right to have a Hellfire missile; after all, the Second Amendment does not define "arms".


We are not glued to CNN to see what the outcome in Kosovo will be. Civilian death is called collateral damage and is excused as "mistakes". One small paragraph in the New York Times (5/2/99) reports: "In the last two days alone, residential areas of Belgrade were bombed by accident and a passenger bus in Kosovo was split in half, apparently by a NATO missile, reportedly killing 34 or more people. On Tuesday, more than 20 people died, half of them children, when NATO bombed a residential area near the Bulgarian border." We've learned nothing about the victims -- their names, their religious backgrounds, their hobbies, their families, their ambitions. And the coverage about Littleton goes on and on. The Littleton episode was over in a matter of hours. And the bombing in Yugoslavia goes on and on...


Charlton Heston, in defense of the N.R.A., stated "We're not peddling heroin". What is the difference between peddling heroin and providing firearms to people who use them to intentionally kill? And what is the difference to the victims, between being intentionally shot and being accidentally bombed?

The "mistakes" in Littleton -- mistakes that can only be identified through hindsight -- were nowhere near as costly in human life as the intentional and "accidental" killings ongoing in Kosovo. Why should the world be surprised at our actions? We are a violent nation, both inward and outward. We turn our backs on violence in this country -- why wouldn't we do the same elsewhere? Perhaps we just don't understand, or have the desire, how to take the proper steps to end it. Can you follow the logic of the N.R.A.? Can you follow any of our logic? We talk about banning trench coats to save our children.

Published May 2, 1999
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