It’s safe to say that most of the recent mass shootings have been perpetrated by men with serious mental problems. Who in his right mind could turn automatic weapons on innocent people going about their business in malls, offices, schools and movie theaters?
So it was good news the other day when Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill to close a loophole in Florida gun laws that permitted some persons with mental illness to buy guns. But not everyone agrees with that statement. The governor’s office was flooded with almost 25,000 emails urging him to veto the bill.
Why would anyone want to allow mentally ill people to buy guns? Because the bill applies to people who have voluntarily submitted themselves to mental health exams or treatments. The old law allowed such people to buy guns once they are released from mental health institutions. The new law requires a judge and doctor to concur that an individual is no longer a danger to himself or others in order to get off the database of those prohibited from buying a gun.
To the surprise of many, even Marion Hammer wanted Scott to sign the bill. The longtime National Rifle Association lobbyist seldom gets behind any restriction on gun ownership, but even she could see the sensible justification for this one. In fact, she and her allies flooded the governor’s office with 200,000 emails asking Scott to sign the bill.
As was noted in our Village Square forum on guns held on May 22nd, (http://bit.ly/120hazK) the Second Amendment‘s guarantee of the right to bear arms is not voided by reasonable restrictions to protect public safety. No “right” is absolute; no “liberty” is open-ended. Preventing harm to others seems a reasonable limitation.
By David Klement
Executive Director, Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions
The Tallahassee Democrat and the Village Square co-sponsored a forum last week on gun control – “Students, Safety and the Second Amendment” – featuring a great panel encompassing a dynamic range of opinion (or how discussions should be). If you couldn’t make it, be sure to tune into WFSU-FM 88.9 FM tonight at 7pm. After the program airs, you can also listen to the program online (or by podcast, yes… we have a podcast) HERE. Find the program details along with the Tallahassee’s video stream of the program online HERE.
Part of the concept of The Village Square is to have the conversation – as neighbors, as a community. I hope you’ll take a moment to check out Temple Israel’s Rabbi Jack Romberg (and Faith, Food, Friday “God Squad” founding member) contribution to that conversation “The Jewish Observer” HERE. Rabbi Romberg writes about topics like our Faith, Food, Friday forums – he wrote about our topic “The Most Segregated Hour” HERE, about “Social Justice” HERE, and our recent Tallahassee Democrat forum topic of guns HERE and HERE.
Thursday’s Tallahassee community conversation about firearms did its job in opening the dialogue on how student safety and the Second Amendment play off each other on a local level.
The panel, made up of local community leaders in school safety, law enforcement, faith, education and law addressed an American culture that hinges on violence.
“Being an American community, we are addicted to violence, especially gun violence,” said panel member Rev. Brant Copeland. “We have invited violence into our culture. Why should we be surprised that we can’t protect our children from violence?” Read the whole article in the Tallahassee Democrat here.
In case you didn’t see it yesterday, read the Tallahassee Democrat’s Bob Gabordi on our upcoming forum on guns, sponsored by the Democrat and the Village Square.
“Living in America, I have long believed, is about the art of defending the rights of those with whom we most strongly disagree. Now, I would add, it is also the art of sitting down with and engaging in conversation with those same opinion holders.
We hope that is what we will do as a community Feb. 28 as the Tallahassee Democrat and Tallahassee.com join with The Village Square to present a public forum and discussion on “Students, Safety and the Second Amendment.”