Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In the aftermath of the Navy yard shootings, we see and hear the same accusations where innocent law-abiding people are made the problem, and, in typical knee-jerk fashion, must be dealt with by punitive legislation as the immediate solution.

Reasonable firearms laws are for reasonable people, and there was nothing reasonable about Aaron Alexis, who obviously suffered from a textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia and gave multiple warning signs, and these were all ignored. These warnings included once having used a firearm to shoot out the tires of a car owned by a person with whom Mr. Alexis had a dispute, and verbalizing the conviction that he was under personal attack by unknown individuals using microwaves to attempt to control him. How this was all overlooked remains unclear, but the situation eventually reached a state of critical mass and finally erupted in a horrifying and devastating way. Many states presently do require background checks for firearm purchasers, but these checks are for criminal offenses and usually not for a history of mental illness, so Mr. Alexis flew under this radar as well, despite the reams of existing laws, regardless of their intensity or redundancy.

The media, which, in cases of mass homicides involving firearms, almost always gets things wrong, first reported that the weapon was a semiautomatic AR-15, which was totally false. Mr. Alexis primarily used a Remington Model 870 shotgun, which is a manually operated pump action firearm of a type which has been in existence since the late 19th century, and which does not have a magazine capacity even close to 15 rounds, as though Aaron Alexis was somehow incapable of reloading his own weapon as he went on his rampage.

The Second Amendment is not about hunting or about dispatching pest animals, it is about the intention of the framers of the constitution that it was their will that the people of this country be armed as a final defense against a government that may turn tyrannical. The founders were well acquainted with the evil that standing armies could do at the behest of government, and waged war against this oppression. We should not quibble about the fact that banning of any type of firearm or accessory for it that is currently legal to acquire and legal to own is not an infringement of the Second Amendment, and anyone using the term “assault weapon” to describe anything but a full automatic mechanism is using that term incorrectly. A military-style firearm is not capable of full automatic fire, but the fact that it resembles the military version is enough to confuse and frighten those with limited or no experience with them. If the Second Amendment is so woefully obsolete, then perhaps the same can be said about the entire Constitution? Why not scrap or “revise” the entire Bill of Rights, especially in a time where some choose servitude and dependency rather than freedom? The legislators in Colorado were recalled because they disregarded the will of the people, and the Constitution itself, because the laws they promoted were not reasonable, but invasive and would never stop criminals or the insane.

State National Guard units are part of the United States Army, and, in each state, are only on loan to governors and can be recalled by the federal government at any time, since the federal government has ultimate control over these units. Former Governor Dukakis found this out some time ago when he tried to make a court case out of not allowing Massachusetts National Guard units to be sent to El Salvador, since military operations conducted there during his term of office did not meet his personal approval. National Guardsmen wear the uniform of the U.S. Army, and a small patch on their sleeves does not confer ownership to any governor, and they are certainly not the private armies of any state governor.

Regarding firearm-related deaths, there have been comparisons and cross-comparisons of the United States with foreign countries for decades, but when deaths attributable to other forms of violence are considered, the seemingly rosy picture presented by these countries changes, as if being shot is the only violent thing that can happen to crime victims. Australia passed a national law some years ago following a mass homicide with a rifle and since then violent crime of every kind and description has accelerated, with the particularly frightening crime of home invasion being near the top of the list. This confiscatory new law mandated that all semiautomatic, slide action, pump action and lever action firearms be turned in for destruction, and law-abiding gun owners complied, while criminals and violent gangs must have laughed themselves breathless.

A criminal or maniac hellbent on committing murder will never be stopped by any gun law. The only thing that will stop a criminal attacker employing deadly force is an armed defender employing superior deadly force, and that is all there is to it. I believe that most people would prefer to have even half a chance rather than no chance, and not be relegated to the helpless position of sheep in a slaughter pen.

Michael F. Fontes
West Tisbury