Before I even begin let me say all sides in this discussion about school shootings have valid points. If you’re going to be quick to either label someone a bleeding heart liberal or an alt-right cold-hearted conservative you’re just part of the problem, not the solution.

Nineteen little kids and two adults were gunned down and killed in an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday. This has happened before. This will happen again. If you don’t think this is a problem, then you don’t think.

Or is it that you don’t feel? Or maybe your feelings are so myopic they are reserved only for your immediate loved ones and your precious right to make it really, really easy to own a gun?

Now see, before we get the liberal tag hurled at me, we can just as easily say is your understandable love for your children so selfish that you ignore our Constitution? Do you not realize there are other ways to kill, and is a lot of your outrage just virtue signaling? So please understand I mean it when I say there are valid points on both sides. But allow me a few thoughts if you would be so generous.

The mantra of those who say “if it just saves one life it’s worth it“ has always been flawed. Making all speed limits across the nation 5 mph would certainly save lives. But we don’t do this. Yet guns aren’t just taking a few lives in this country.

On the one hand, guns killed 45,222 people in the United States in the year 2020. On the other hand, did you know slightly over half of those were suicides?

Still, thousands of innocent people are shot to death every year in this country. Children shouldn’t have to go to school thinking they could be next. They shouldn’t have to endure active-shooter drills in first grade. It wasn’t like this when I was in school.

Hand gun
Hemera Technologies

So what’s going on? You could get 10 different experts in a room and all 10 would give different explanations. And all 10 would be only slightly right.

But I think it’s correct to say that our society has gotten colder. Just take a look at social media if you doubt this. Life is cheaper. We don’t treat each other well anymore. Fuses are shorter. Problems are greater. Pressures are higher. And mental illness in this country is being dealt with a Band-Aid approach too often.

That being said, it should also be recognized that a mentally disturbed person can always find a way to harm people. The greatest death toll in a school massacre for many years belonged to an incident in Bath, Michigan, back in 1927. And it was done with a bomb. But the death tolls of a number of school shootings have now surpassed that.

The thing is, while true that you can kill without a gun, guns make it so. damn. easy. Am I anti-gun? Not at all. I’ve gone to gun ranges for fun. But I’m anti-murder, especially of children. And we’re having thousands of gun murders every year in the United States — 19,384 in 2020 alone.

However, the Constitution's Second Amendment says you have a right to bear arms. And it’s always the argument against stricter rules and regulations. So let’s take a real look at it. Let’s take a look at part of the Second Amendment that no one ever really talks about.

What exactly does the Second Amendment say? It says this:

“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. “

Notice it doesn’t only say "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’"

It first justifies why. It recognizes even back in 1791 that guns were serious business and in this portion of the Bill of Rights gives us the reason for this right.

The reason was back at that time our nation’s armed services were nothing like they are today and the security of the nation absolutely depended on small bands of civilian militias coming together in the event of a national threat to protect the nation. Militias then were more important and powerful than the actual armed services. Today, militias tend to be almost entirely unnecessary. They are not always but often extremist groups.

In other words, militias are no longer “necessary to the security of a free state.” You can try to make the argument that militias are necessary to keep the government of the United States as a democracy and not a dictatorship. But how many people who own guns are actually in a militia? Extremely few.

So next argue just the guns themselves are necessary to keep the government as a democracy and not a dictatorship. Funny how many people who would say that are also Trump supporters who happily believed in his Big Lie when he was actually the one trying to overthrow democracy.

President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando
President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

One also needs to remember that when the Bill of Rights was written, things were assumed that have certainly changed over time through further amendments. Black people and women did not have the right to vote. Just one of many examples of why you should be cautious about cleaving to the way things were when this document was written in 1791. The beauty of the Constitution is that it’s a living document, in other words, capable of growing and changing with time through amendment.

And the times have indeed changed.

Now by this point I’m sure you think I’m advocating house to house searches and all guns being confiscated and melted down. I’m not. If you want to see even more gun violence that’s what would happen. We’ve been on the brink of civil war as is. The nation is so awash in guns that there’s no getting this genie back in the bottle. And it’s also true that the problem is never law-abiding gun owners.

The problem is too many states make it too easy. The latest elementary school massacre where 19 innocent kids were murdered along with two adults happened in Texas. You have to be 21 years old to legally drink alcohol in Texas. You have to be 21 years old to legally buy cigarettes in Texas. But you can legally buy a gun in Texas at age 18. As did this latest mass shooter. We take alcohol and cigarettes more seriously than a gun?

All this to say while people can always find a way to kill, guns make it far too convenient. We need to allow guns, but we need to make it a little harder to acquire and keep them. Since mental illness clearly is the common denominator in school and other mass shootings, gun owners who care about the lives of the innocent should have no problem with laws requiring people to pass psychiatric evaluations to purchase and continue to own guns.

Can they still be stolen? Sure. Purchased illegally? Of course. But if we can’t at least require a mental health clearance before someone exercises their right to own a gun we are not even trying.

And if it saves a few thousand lives a year, it’s worth it.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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