What’s a government for? by Glenn Schuckers

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Those fifty-two words are the first words written in what became the Constitution of the United  States of America. They come ahead of the Articles that define the roles of the Congress, the president, the Supreme Court and all the duress of those offices. They set the tone and purpose of having a constitution and by extension a government and a nation. Sadly, it looks as though both the people of the nation and the leaders we have elected to represent us have forgotten what the purpose of our government is. 

Does today’s government  “insure domestic Tranquility,”  “promote the general welfare”  or “ secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”? That word, “tranquility” means restfulness, calm, serenity, and quietude. 

Ask the people in Buffalo, NY or Uvalde, Texas if they feel calm, serene or peaceful. For that matter, ask the people of Parkland, FL, Newtown, CN or Pittsburgh, PA or any of the towns or cities that have been subjected to armed gunmen for the past four or five years if the government has given them a sense of protection or “Tranquility.”

When he first took office after the assassination of then president Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson laid out his plans for enacted tax reform, voting rights and civil rights, some of his advisors told him he was taking on too much, that those programs were too much for Congress to pass, whereupon LBJ said to them, “What’s the presidency for?”

I would paraphrase that today for those people who say that enacting meaningful reforms to the laws that govern what, where and how guns are purchased  is too much by asking “What’s government for?
I own guns as do most of my neighbors. None of us, so far as I know, would have had any problem passing a thorough background check before we bought our rifles, shotguns and pistols. We all could have waited a week for that check to have been completed.

Most of us were at least twenty-one when we bought them, and many of them were bought from a licensed gun dealer. 

So here are some questions I would like the legislators who oppose any kind of laws regarding the purchase of a gun to answer.

  1. Why is is OK for someone who is too young to purchase a beer allowed to purchase a military style rifle?
  2. Why does the adoption of a dog in a pet shelter take longer and require a more thorough background check than the check for purchasing a military style rifle?
  3. Why is it possible for a teenager to buy a rifle that is not legal for hunting in this state?

When I was a teenager my dad gave me a single-shot shotgun to use for hunting. When I objected to being limited to having only one shot he told me that it would make me a better shot knowing that I had only one chance. He was right.  

When I see the semi-automatic rifles often referred to as “assault” rifles I wonder just why anyone would lay out the thousands of dollars they cost. They are not legal for hunting, at least in our state. The only difference between these guns and the ones used by our soldiers is that the ones used by  the military keep firing as long as the trigger is held, while the “civilian” model require the trigger to be pulled for each shot, but pulling a trigger ten times in a few seconds results in the same thing. 

And the ammunition? It will penetrate just about anything short of heavy flak jackets or Kevlar. I sincerely doubt that our deer, bear, elk or groundhogs have access to flak jackets. 

Target shooting? People who are serious about becoming marksmen do not use assault style rifles. They develop their skill one shot at a time.

So it comes  down, as it usually does,  to money.

Gun manufacturers make a lot of money selling these guns, period. The more they sell the bigger their profits. If people in churches, synagogues, grocery stores and schools get killed, that is “collateral damage.” And the more money the gunmakers make, the more they contribute to the National Rifle Association. 

And the more money the NRA takes in, the more it can spend to support and reelect legislators. 

And so the shooting goes on, and on and on. In churches, synagogues, grocery stores, concerts, and, most tragic, in  schools. And our “leaders” don’t want us to think about guns. They want us to think about locks on doors, mental health issues, violent video games, and a violent society.

What they do not want us to think about are the guns that young, mostly men, use to kill. But in increasing numbers people are thinking about those guns. But so long as our legislators live in insulated bubbles, safe from the reality that increasingly the violent world that is America, the shooting will go on.

Don’t think it could happen here? That is most certainly what the people in Uvalde, Parkland, Newtown, and Squirrel Hill thought before it did happen there. Give me one good reason why this area, or any area in America, is immune from a mass shooting. Yes, we know each other but all it takes is one person, one person with a gun capable of shooting thirty people in thirty seconds, to turn a small, close-knit community into a tragedy.

I hope and pray that this kind of tragedy will never become a reality in the area where we live. But hope and prayers are not a plan that will bring about change. Only governments can make those changes.

So what the hell is government for? Only if we support and elect men and women who  have the guts to stand up and give us the government WE want will we get a government that will, “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”