Letter: Laws of yesteryear still valid today

From: Jon Templeman


The people were crying out for action before the bodies had been removed from the bloody scene or the facts were even known.

From reading the paper recently, one could assume I am referring to the tragedy in Orlando, but I am talking about the Boston Massacre of 1770.

Before he became president, John Adams was a lawyer representing the British soldiers involved in the massacre. During the case, he said: “Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

It is evident lately that many have disregarded his words. If you think that AR-15s are the main problem in America’s struggle with violent crime, then you sadly have allowed the dictates of your passions to overshadow the facts. According to FBI data that tracks all murders in America, about 300 people are killed each year at the end of a rifle. That’s all rifles, not just the highly vilified AR-15. So if someone shoots his neighbor with a bolt action .22 rifle and the neighbor dies, that death is included in the annual statistic.

In comparison, about five times more people are murdered each year with knives and edged weapons. What’s even more shocking than this is that more people are murdered each year with fists and feet than with rifles, by a ratio of 2 to 1. So while people are calling for a national ban on AR-15s, let us keep in mind that only about 2 percent of all gun deaths are caused by rifles. Yet many who have cried out for action lately think that by banning these weapons we will suddenly fix the rampant problem we face in our society.

There have been a few horrific incidents in which evil men have used AR-15s or similar style rifles to inflict great evil, as we recently saw once again. When this happens, we inevitably see people state that they support the Second Amendment but that it should only apply to muskets.

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated in the Heller decision, “Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way.” If we did, those that are making such arguments would have their First Amendment rights relegated to the town square or the printing press.

When our nation faces these tragedies, whether 246 years ago or so recently that the pain is still fresh in our hearts, we must do our best to remember the words of our great former president and allow our actions to be dictated by facts, no matter how stubborn they may be.