Open Forum: Seize the opportunity
Posted: February 8, 2013
“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
This is a concept I believe in wholeheartedly. We, the people, have the opportunity in a democracy to participate. The NRA has used this opportunity to its fullest. Now it is time for those of us who believe that a reasonable approach to the ownership of assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and stricter background checks for gun buyers is needed to use this opportunity to participate and let our legislators know our preferences.
The numbers suggest we could be successful if enough of us take advantage of the opportunity. We may not have the organizational structure or the money to back us, but we potentially have the strength of our numbers.
A brief look at the raw numbers tells us there are approximately 234 million individuals over the age of 18 in the United States. Of these, in 2008, 122,394,724 voted. The NRA professes to have more than 4 million members. Assuming they all agree with the position of their leadership and will bring along another, let’s say, 4 million supporters, that is still a long way from the 122 million who voted in 2008.
I am not prepared to give in and say there is no hope for taking a reasonable approach to gun control. I have the opportunity to express my views, and I can demand that my elected representatives give my views a full hearing.
I also firmly believe that if I do not speak out, I am a part of the problem I seek to fix. That my silence gives my consent and that I am OK with the status quo. Therefore, carried to its ultimate end, if in this renewed push by President Obama to bring about changes in the laws relative to assault weapons in individual households moves nowhere, it will be because that is what the people wanted who chose to exercise their opportunity to participate.
Because we have a democracy, their vote is now my law. It will be the way we continue to operate, unlimited assault weapons sold to whomever, and high-capacity magazines available for group carnage. We will then hold our collective breath until the next group massacre and the next use of one of these weapons to kill us as if we were in a war zone.
The NRA and similar groups cannot legislate. They only have the same opportunity we all have to influence those individuals who can legislate. I am asking you to take your opportunity to influence the decisions that will be made just like the members and supporters of the pro-gun lobby.
Mr. Obama said recently that lawmakers will have to “examine their own conscience” as they tackle gun-control legislation, regardless of politics. If you believe changes should be made to help make a desperate situation better, understanding that this is only one part of the problem, seize your opportunity to participate by letting your representatives know you want a more reasonable set of laws relative to guns in our society.
Democracy gives us the opportunity to participate. To not participate gives the rule to those who do. That’s how democracy works!
Jean Lee is a resident of Millwood.