First peel away the name-calling, adjectives and misinformation in letters by Mike Latham and James Mageau. Then you will find a residue of babble. What compels them to say almost anything in defense of the Second Amendment regardless of the veracity or logic?
Mr. Latham’s letter to the editor, in the Westerly Sun on Friday, April 13, “The left is missing the real issue — drugs,” is a distraction. He suggests people looking for responsible gun control are ignoring the drug problem. (When you are losing the argument, change the subject.) Of course, Mr. Latham wants to change the conversation, but why did he pick drugs? Wouldn’t a stalwart defender of the Second Amendment and other inalienable rights choose to defend the Fifth Amendment? State and federal government have for years eroded our right to due process through tort reform, immunities, and other limits. Perhaps he wanted to use the conservative dog whistle, “our southern border.” Regardless, the context in which he framed the drug crisis was wrong. Opioids dominate today’s drug crisis. Four out of five opioid users began addiction with prescription drugs. Over-aggressive drug company sales and overprescribing doctors share most blame for this crisis. Illegal drug dealers did not cause the crisis. The medical establishment gave it to them as a gift. By restraining drug company and doctor excesses, we could lessen the crisis.
Jay Lustgarten wrote in his Wednesday, April 18, letter to the editor, “Opioid deaths, gun deaths are separate issues.” In it he clarified Mr. Latham's misleading information. Mr. Lustgarten said opioids and guns are separate issues requiring separate solutions with separate facts.
Now enters Mr. Mageau with his lament in his letter to the editor on Friday, April 20, “Heartache and grief with both drugs and guns.” Either he took Mr. Lustgarten's statement out of context or did not understand it. Mr. Mageau expressed outrage that Mr. Lustgarten would make such a distinction. Why this outraged him, I do not know. Mr. Mageau said when he read (or misread) Mr. Lustgarten's letter it made him feel like he could puke. (I wonder if just Mr. Lustgarten’s letter affected him that way or do all sensible letters affect him that way.) Gunshot and overdose deaths are separate issues when the conversation is about gun control. We are humane and smart enough to solve both problems. We should not raise one to end conversation of the other. In the same letter Mr. Mageau defends the NRA and denies any medical provider responsibility for the opioid crisis. It is hard to understand exactly what Mr. Mageau thinks. He would do something to stop the deaths from drug abuse, but nothing to stop the deaths from guns. It brings into question how genuine is his concern? Is this more NRA babble?
In an April 10 letter to the editor, “Solution to mass shootings is to empower law enforcement,” Mr. Latham described the right to bear arms as inalienable. The Second Amendment did not create the right. It merely codified that which came from our maker. He claims that man has understood this since the beginning of time. Now, I know that Mr. Latham prides himself on being well-informed. He often tells us so in his letters. However, he must have slept through a few history classes. Did God grant these rights? Did man understand inalienable rights from the beginning of time? If so, why did God, through the divine right of kings, give kings all the rights during the Middle Ages? Why did it take thousands of years before John Locke discovered inalienable rights? Why is the U.S. Constitution so highly regarded for honoring the rights so late in the game?
Like any right, the Second Amendment is not unlimited. The NRA has spent millions to extend the limits. The NRA has perverted the Second Amendment. We now live in a potential combat zone. People can now carry weapons designed to mutilate and kill to go to Walmart. Is that rational? The NRA spent much of its money cultivating a following that includes Mr. Latham and Mr. Mageau. They believe in unlimited individual gun rights. They often repeat NRA babble to justify their stand. The NRA designed a message to make us feel that we cannot defeat it. Lately, it is using the same messages more to convince itself and its supporters that we cannot defeat it. I think the NRA and its supporters are beginning to worry, and I like it.
Joseph C. SciarilloWesterly