- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 14, 2016

What so proudly we hail

The Rainbow Pride flag has long been a symbol for the gay community. Over the last couple of days, its symbolism has expanded as one of unity not just for those Americans, but for Americans of varied backgrounds who together mourn the senseless murders inflicted by a terrorist-inspired American in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub catering largely to gay customers.

One doesn’t have to be an activist or a marcher to be sickened by the carnage perpetrated by one lost soul upon so many of our fellow Americans. All it requires is a decency, an appreciation of our common humanity, an understanding that a terror attack on one American is an attack on all Americans.

Today is Flag Day. Americans must work to truly appreciate all that the U.S. flag represents.

Flags come and go as their causes do. The Confederate Battle Flag led the way for Southern soldiers fighting a civil war during four years the United States was a formally fractured nation. Today, a few misguided people refuse to let it withdraw into its proper place in history, instead adapting it to their modern-day messages of division. It is a powerful symbol.

Today is Flag Day. It’s celebrated every June 14, marking the anniversary of the U.S. flag’s adoption by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Flag Day in 1916, followed by Congress’s designation in 1949 of June 14 as National Flag Day.

It is under the United States flag and the freedoms for which it stands that all other flags can have meaning and be flown as expressions of First Amendment-protected speech. Some will attempt to stain the flag with the nation’s shortcomings, and without question our nation has its share of those. But the U.S. flag has a glorious history of freedom, and defense of that freedom, represented by every red, white and blue thread. We the People do not always get it right, but as long as that flag represents the promise and opportunity of the USA, the struggle to get it right continues.

We can be proud of Old Glory and the ideals she represents. Beyond that, we must be. We are a nation of individuals who must recognize that our individualism is strength as long a it’s rooted in a basic sense of unity as Americans. That’s not to suggest we all think alike or make the same choices. Heaven forbid! This nation has long been a melting pot of peoples and ideas, and God willing, it will forever be. But we occasionally hear such rubbish as this celebrity or that one claims a planned move to Canada or some other country if one political candidate or another gets elected.

No, being American means not giving up so easily on the nation and what it stands for. We too frequently forget how cherished our freedoms need to be because we’re spoiled by those very freedoms, to the extent we believe it’s the way things naturally are and always will be. Too many nations led by too many dictators have demonstrated man’s propensity to allow freedom to slip from his grasp, and for control to be consumed by the powerful few. The wonder of our American Founders is their development of a nation that recognizes freedom is mankind’s natural yearning, not its guaranteed condition. Its survival requires work, and the United States is the most promising vessel for that.

Flags are often used to send signals. Indeed, many U.S. flags are at half-staff today to signal to the world that our nation is one in mourning. But it will rise again, not to indicate that we’ve forgotten, but that we shall not forget who we are and to mark the continuation of a nation dedicated to that proposition that all men are created equal. Let’s make sure that flag remains our nation’s statement to the world about the kind of people we strive to be, even when we fall short.

Long may the U.S. Flag wave, and long may we truly appreciate its powerful message to the world: Let freedom ring.

___

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 14, 2016

Defeat them, the only answer left

So many dead. So many wounded. So many noble but unrealistic ideas about what to do about it.

It didn’t take long after Orlando for the bumper-sticker thinking to show up again. (It will be a while, maybe a long while, before just saying the word “Orlando” doesn’t automatically conjure what happened over the weekend. The way saying “Columbine” or “Sandy Hook” still summons the demons.)

Get rid of guns! or something to that effect was all the rage, and we mean rage, on Facebook come Monday morning. Sometimes the post would simply ask “When will it all end?” before the nation goes Great Britain on its guns. Or how many have to die, or have we finally learned the lesson, or why can’t we do this simple thing?

It’s a simple question. In more ways than one. There are more guns in the United States than people in it. If the government were somehow to require - tomorrow - that everybody turn their guns in to the government, what percentage do you think would actually do it? Ten? Twenty? Fifty? If 90 percent of all Americans were to turn in their guns tomorrow, that’d leave tens of millions of guns still on the streets. (And, for the record, nobody in government - or running to be in it - is calling for anything like such massive confiscation. And likely won’t. A presidential election season is no time for Big Ideas.)

Magazine size? There are more magazines in this nation than guns. How long, how many hundreds of years, would it take for the ones already in Uncle Bob’s closet to break, or rust, or be lost in a house fire, or be turned in by his grandkids?

Change the Constitution? How, exactly? The Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere. And won’t be. We had a conversation a few months back about this very thing. If every single registered voter in New York state were to vote in favor of some change to the Constitution, Arkansas could offset that vote with 51 percent of the vote here. A small state like Louisiana could counteract California. Mississippi could nullify Illinois. Then you’re just at 50 percent. To change the Constitution, you’d need 3/4 of the states to approve. Folks, do we have that sort of time?

Do we debate changing the Constitution for the next decade, and put up with dozens of more terrorist attacks? Do we spend years trying to pass (mostly ineffective) gun laws through a divided Congress while the enemy plans more Orlandos? Do we debate magazine size while nutcases are filling their trunks with banana clips for the next trip to the movie house, nightclub or school?

The best answer to what’s happening might have been suggested by the senior senator from Arkansas, John Boozman, who usually doesn’t sound this angry. But Orlando was enough to get even the Hon. and honorable John Boozman up in arms, along with the rest of us:

“ISIS and radical Islamic terrorists have repeatedly called on supporters to attack Americans here at home,” he said. “This act of terrorism is an attack on our freedoms. Our country must have the resolve to defeat ISIS. As a country we need to do whatever it takes to destroy ISIS using whatever means possible to protect Americans at home and abroad.”

Well, maybe not whatever means possible, but we think what we know what the good senator meant. He sounded angry, and he was joined by a lot of people, and not just in this country. Some of us got angrier each time the death toll clicked up Sunday afternoon.

The United States must go to the enemy, and defeat him. If we don’t defeat him, and clean him out of his safe places like so many rats out of an attic, he’ll continue to recruit for ops in this country. There’s scarcely a doubt that Americans are weary of war after Iraq and Afghanistan and all these years of fighting. But the enemy doesn’t seem to be tiring. And he’s recruiting. (See San Bernardino.)

We must defeat them. That’s the answer. One-sentence posts on social media may make a body feel good, but such bumper-sticker thinking isn’t going to stop the next terror attack.

Defeat them. Where they live. As hard as it is to do so.

___

Texarkana Gazette, June 11, 2016

Supreme Court should finally consider matter in wake of misguided appeals court ruling on Second Amendment

Does the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allow citizens to carry concealed weapons in public?

How about the open carry of firearms?

Most gun advocates would say yes. Here in the Four States area we feel confident in saying, generally speaking, most would say yes. But there are those who say that’s not the case and that states can put significant limitations on such practices.

On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 7-4 decision that California’s law requiring residents wishing to carry a concealed handgun show “good cause” for a license is constitutional.

The court ruled that while the Second Amendment allows the buying and selling of weapons and the right to have them in homes, there is no implicit right to carry guns in public.

California does not recognize personal safety as a reason to carry a handgun. And, according to the 9th Circuit, the state is within its rights to put “any prohibition or restriction” it wants on gun licensing.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Consuelo Callahan wrote that the Constitution “demands” individuals be allowed to carry a gun for self defense.

The majority said that’s up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ruled that the right to bear arms is an individual right not tied to service in a sanctioned military group, and that states and cities have limits on restricting gun ownership itself. But so far the nation’s highest court has managed to avoid making a call specifically on concealed or open carry.

Until that time, the 9th Circuit’s ruling is binding on residents of Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, as well as California.

Now, the 9th Circuit is known for its liberal rulings - and the reversal of those rulings - but its ruling mirrors similar decisions by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Circuits, which cover much of the East Coast from South Carolina to Connecticut and into Vermont.

So far the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago, is the highest court to strike down restrictive conditions on concealed carry licenses, but its jurisdiction is limited to Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

In our view, it is ludicrous to think the Second Amendment only allows guns in homes. Self-protection is a consideration beyond one’s front door. It’s time the nation’s highest court makes a ruling on this issue and defines just what latitude states and cities have when it comes to the Second Amendment. Until then, we will have a patchwork of gun laws and any number of court cases challenging them.

And when the Supreme Court does eventually debate the matter, we hope they give more consideration to individual rights than government interference.

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