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If there are two stories that have prompted a lot of email recently, it has been the various pieces that touched on the gun control controversy and the Lance Armstrong admission that, indeed, he used performance enhancing drugs while competing as a world champion cyclist.

Since it is friday, a day on which I'm more willing even than usual to venture off the beaten path, I thought this would be a good time to post some of these emails. If you're not interested because this is not business-related, feel free to skip these emails. I just thought the emails were generally thoughtful and worth posting, though I have no burning desire to make this an ongoing MNB debate.

Regarding guns...

One MNB user wrote:

As the wife of a law enforcement officer, this is a HUGE subject in our house. Obviously because of my husband’s occupation we have guns. Yes, plural with an S. I never thought I would be a gun owner but low and behold, I am. Turns out I’m actually a really good shot. It think it comes from years of me being a knife person. Great aim.  
Couple of things from the law enforcement point of view:

• It’s always easier to say “just increase police presence.” Where are the resources going to be pulled from? Think about your community. How many schools are there? Bet you more than 10. One officer per school puts that many less officers on the streets.

Criminals take note of this. A rise in day time home burglaries and merchant robberies will rise. So, you just pay for more officers, right? When we ask the community to raise a little tax to fund 1-2 more officers, or give the current force a raise they haven’t had in 5 years or to keep their current medical coverage, the vote nine times out of ten is no. Now you want these same communities to fund an additional officer per school? With every contract renegotiation officers, like many other professions, are losing more and more. They can’t strike. It’s against the law for them to do so. That’s why you see teachers, nurses and hotel workers doing it and not cops. But they face the exact same issues, plus put their lives on the line every day for complete strangers. And do so proudly.

• The Second Amendment. 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.  What this means is you have the right to bear arms legally because IF there is ever a need to assist those who provide security for our freedoms, you are prepared to do so. This can be small scale of providing protection to your family from a home invader (police did not arrive in time,) to extremes like a foreign invader comes-a-knocking on the door (think if on 9/11 planes were used to air drop people fully armed into Times Square), or if your own government comes knocking down your door and forces you into submission (Nazi Germany, anyone?) I use modern scenarios because people think that mentality which was used what only thinking of the “now” in the 1700’s. Our brilliant forefathers knew better and fully understood that history will repeat itself if it does not learn from itself. So they prepared the people to have the ability to defend themselves if the government agency formed to protect them is unable to or fails to. You must do so legally. That is was a well regulated one is. Legal gun owners, following the laws. That is why when you are convicted of ANY felony, the first right you lose is the right to legally bear arms. Not even jail time is first.

• Your quote “I continue to believe that an idiot or a paranoid person with any sort of gun is more dangerous than an idiot or a paranoid person without one” The only thing wrong with this quote is you used the word GUN. It should have been a blank space. Because a CAR, a KNIFE, a SAW, a CELL PHONE, a PLANE, a CANDLESTICK with Cornel Mustard in the Library, etc are all more dangerous with an idiot or paranoid person. But your quote is pretty perfect in showing that it is PEOPLE not guns that hurt. Any criminal will commit a crime with whatever weapon is at their disposal.

• We need to address mental competence. Our society for as advance as we are, still refuse to address mental issues. Children are checked every year to make sure their hears, ears, eyes and growth is all normal. Why aren’t they checked for mental health as well. That needs to become mandatory. Also, once you are diagnosed with something, we need to ensure that it doesn’t develop into something else, like schizophrenia with the onset of puberty. Mental health is a much larger threat to our society. Then add alcohol and drug use when these people get older…

We do need good gun laws. Laws that do not chastise the legal citizen for excising their Constitutional right.
I would prefer you don’t print my name as having an officer for a husband is a very touchy subject for me as I will defend his job to death. He faces “the crazies” on a daily basis and does things for strangers I would only do for him and my kids. As an off the record cop comment goes, “Why don’t these tragedies happen when we are about to send voters to the ballots.”

From another reader:

The argument that the founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment as a catch all for weapons used some 230 years later is a bit short sighted.  Yes they were visionaries and intelligent men for their time.  But they were human beings who could only see so much into the future and little changed from the early 1700's to the late 1700's unlike the rapid changes we have seen in the last 50 years.
After all, these were the same guys who wore wigs, thought slavery was ok and didn't think women should be allowed to vote.

From still another reader:

You asked:  “I keep wondering who, exactly, these "tyrants" are who are going to try to take away our freedoms.”
I don’t know who these “tyrants” are either.  History shows that they don’t just appear, they tend to grow.   One example of a commonly defined tyrant was the duly elected chancellor of Germany, elected by popular vote in 1933….   The German people, or the world for that matter, apparently didn’t see him coming either.

MNB user Mark Raddant wrote:

Regarding the 2nd Amendment: if the Constitution declares well run militias to be NECESSARY and that need is the basis for people to have un-infringed upon access to arms, where are the militias?  It seems the Constitution mandates the States to actually have militias—to the point of stating them to be “necessary”.  If you get licensed to own a gun and register one, does that imply entry in a contract to serve voluntarily in state-run militias?  It seems like we have one side of the coin without the other, and the militias are the necessary prescriptive for the right of gun ownership. So, where are they?

From another reader:

I too can’t fathom that our founding fathers had any idea we would have the types of weapons we have now anymore than they could have predicted we could put an entire library of books on a device smaller than the Declaration of Independence!

To be 100% transparent, I am not against guns. Since 12/14/12 though,  I have given this topic considerable thought. I have asked my friends who are gun advocates to  provide me one , just one,  sensible reason why we need firearms like the ones used at Sandy Hook Elementary. I receive a lot of answers like “it’s our right,” “it’s a mental health issue,” “we need protection from intruders or the government”. Still waiting for the one sensible reason….

Also, I disagree with the MNB reader that states the founding fathers “didn’t care about the types of weapons.” Pretty sure the founding fathers were more concerned about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness vs instantaneous ways to end multiple lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness. And let’s be realistic, history has shown, single persons or small factions are no match for potential threats of tyranny anyway. That is why we have a well regulated militia and now a department of defense to deter oppression.

Another MNB user wrote:

I will go you one better on the gun-control topic: institute a 100% complete & total ban on all forms of private gun ownership in the United States ("private", i.e., military & law-enforcement excepted), with any & all private gun ownership, in and of itself, being grounds for long prison sentences (let's say 25+ years), BUT with the quid pro quo that any crime committed with even the presence of a firearm, in and of itself, be grounds for capital punishment.  No exceptions, no "fair warnings."  Period.

And as an adjunct to this policy, a revision to the rules of US criminal law to say that a defendant's presumption of innocence is withdrawn, and replaced with the civil-trial rules that assume neither guilt nor innocence.  In another time, the presumption of innocence served the useful purpose of helping avoid cases where an innocent defendant would be wrongly convicted; in modern-day America, I don't think we can afford this luxury anymore.  If the choice we face as citizens (recall here your piece a year or so ago about a book, I believe, titled The Big Sort) effectively boils down to living in a police state or living in lawless, violent anarchy, sad to say, but I'm afraid I'd have to vote for the police state.  In too many places in this once-great country, there is no more safe & sane middle ground anymore, and realistically, there never will be during our lifetimes under current laws.

If these views brand me as the nation's most reactionary liberal, or its most radical conservative (yes, that is what I meant), then so be it.  Let the debate continue.

I fear that if you want to suspend a core value like the presumption of innocence because we can't afford it anymore, and kill anyone who even possesses a gun in the commission of a crime, then we may be further down the road to tyranny than I want to believe.

One MNB user chimed in:

It seems to me the strongest proponents of gun rights can always quote “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” but never seem to recall or point out it is prefaced with “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”.

That could mean guns are for militias or it could certainly be interpreted as regulation is a condition for freedom to bear arms.

Either way somewhere in the middle ground called compromise we have to all be able to agree that clip sizes, certain assault type weapons and availability of mental health care need to be evaluated as we try to protect everyone’s rights. And when I say everyone I ALSO mean protecting the rights of the 27 innocent people and their countless family and friends who’s right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness were permanently infringed on by a madman with ridiculously powerful weapons enabled by woefully inadequate mental health care system.

And another comment:

I do not want to get into the larger debate of gun control.  On a general basis agree with your comments on the issue of Guns.  My personal solution is to boycott any company that sells guns (including WalMart, Big 5, Sports Authority, etc).  if they want to sell guns they can, but I will not support companies that sell weapons designed to kill our fellow man.

Regarding Lance Armstrong, for whom I showed very little sympathy in my commentary earlier this week, MNB user Bradlee N. Farnworth wrote:

I would tread lightly if I were you.  You may make a mistake (possibly a BIG mistake) someday and may need to ask for forgiveness.  I hope for your sake the injured party does not tell you to go to “hell”.  The last time I checked Mr. Armstrong is simply a man..nothing more and nothing less.  We all make stupid mistakes, some bigger than others..but I am quite sure there is not a perfect man or women walking this earth.
I hope for your sake when you do something wrong or hurtful, you are extended more understanding than you extended to Mr. Armstrong!

The cheating is one thing. But for me, it is the way Armstrong sued anyone who accused him of cheating, trying to bully his way past all the accusations, that I find really galling.

From MNB user John Franklin:

Lance is a cheat and a liar, and I think that his narcissism and indeed pathological denial is what most disappointed those who supported and fought for him when the finger-pointing began. He does have a wonderful story, and has motivated many cancer fighters and survivors. Now, we all but know that it was without basis, and a lot of people struggle with the shattering of that fairy tale.

His narcissism and self-serving is further reflected in his past relationships – he left the girlfriend who helped him through his battle with cancer, left the wife and mother of this older children for a celebrity musician, and left her because HE didn’t want more kids at the time, which he later did with another woman when it suited him better. It seems to me that his anticipated confession to Oprah once again goes to what will serve Lance best: because he wants the ban lifted so that HE can compete in triathlons. I, for one, will be watching that interview with great interest to see whether he appears sincere and contrite in any apology that he may make to those who watched and supported him.

From MNB user Mike Franklin:

What really is amazing about Lance, is that he travelled two roads simultaneously, one left a path of lies, people destroyed and corruption…the other left a path of compassion and assistance for those vulnerable to a culturally induced and devastating disease. Now, it’s virtually impossible to punish Lance without impacting those who need his help.

MNB user Jackie Lembke wrote:

I found this PED case to be most distressing. Cycling seemed to be such a pure sport, one in which everyone could participate, all you need is a bike. I kept hoping that the truth that would come out would be that he truly didn’t use PED, it was all a mistake. This confession seems insincere, like the only reason to confess is so he can compete. I feel bad for his charitable organization and the distance they have needed to place between themselves and Mr. Armstrong. I am with you, whether he ever competes at anything again is not my problem, issue or concern.

With all due respect, if you thought cycling was a pure sport, you weren't paying attention.
KC's View: