My nephew was sworn in as a Massachusetts State Trooper a few weeks ago, a proud moment for my family, as well as one of continuing alarm as we hear more and more stories about officers shot in the line of duty.
Saturday’s Boston Globe had front-page stories in the Metro section about shootings in Greenland, NH, where Police Chief Michael Maloney was killed one week shy of his retirement, as well as a shooting rampage in Chicopee on Friday, where State Trooper John Vasquez was shot by a man with an automatic rifle; many civilians, including a school bus full of children, narrowly averted harm during the six-minute shootout in Chicopee. All this was juxtaposed for me by an article in the same paper regarding Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s speech to the NRA attacking President’s Obama’s position on the right to bear arms.
Excuse me if I’m not feeling too concerned about waiting periods and background checks for gun permit applicants, or a ban on assault weapons, which the NRA opposes. Romney avoided mention of the controversial stand-your-ground laws currently being debated across the country and here in the Commonwealth, which are laws the NRA supports.
Depending on the state and exact language of the law, stand-your-ground legislation does not require civilians to retreat, if able, when attacked, but instead grants them the right to fight back, even in public, and to do lethal harm–all under the guise of self-defense. Aside from using this law as an excuse for deadly barroom brawls and gang encounters, other problems with the law are discussed here in this Florida article, where it notes “analysis of state data shows deaths due to self-defense are up over 200% since the law took effect,” as well as this piece from Tampa Bay News listing some examples that show, such as in the Trayvon Martin case, the victims are often unarmed.
It’s all starting to feel like the Wild West and not in a good way. It’s tough enough when bad guys have easy access to assault weapons, but to give anyone on the street access to weapons and permission to use them under the slightest provocation is a path, frankly, that terrifies me. Ask your legislators NOT to support this bill. Keep the waiting periods and background checks, increase efforts to get illegal guns off the streets, make it harder for bad guys to get weapons, and enact stiffer punishments for having them. There is no easy solution to the gunfire madness that is American society, but the NRA approach is definitely not helpful. We must demand our leaders take the steps necessary to protect our law enforcement officers and our communities.