Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 7, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 14



 Mountain Views News Saturday, September 7, 2013 

HOWARD Hays As I See It

GREG Welborn


“A great democracy does not 
make it harder to vote than to 
buy an assault weapon.”

 - Pres. Bill Clinton, at the 50th 
Anniversary of the March on 


 When I read Susan’s e-mail 
last week about the murder of 
her and Hattie’s adopted son, 
22-year-old Treavor Robinson, a phrase stuck out 
to me: “wrong place at the wrong time”. I’d heard 
the phrase in similar circumstances not long 

 Late last January, 15-year-old honors student, 
majorette and volley ball player Hadiyah Pendleton 
went with friends after school to hang out at their 
Chicago neighborhood park. It rained, and all 
took shelter under a canopy. 18-year-old Michael 
Ward mistook one of them for a rival gang 
member, jumped a fence and started shooting. 
Hadiyah tried to get away – she was shot in the 
back and died later that day. The week before, 
Hadiyah Pendleton, along with her dance group, 
had performed in Washington D.C. in official 
inauguration festivities for President Obama. 
(Two years earlier, Michael Ward pled guilty to 
unlawful use of a weapon and got probation.)

 First Lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiyah’s 
memorial service. Later, both she and the 
president returned to Chicago to address the issue 
of gun violence (this was just a couple months after 
it took less than five minutes for a Bushmaster 
.223 cal. XM15 to cut down twenty first graders 
at Newtown.)

 As I recall, both the president and first lady 
commented on the phrase “wrong place at the 
wrong time”. In actuality, they explained, the 
victims were doing what they should be doing; 
being at the right place at the right time – going 
to or from school, the library, spending time with 
friends and family, running errands, helping out 
around their neighborhoods. The tragedy is that 
doing everything right, being in the right place at 
the right time, is no protection. 

 I know the routine: Whether it’s the slaughter 
of six-year-olds in Connecticut, an accomplished 
15-year-old with a movie star smile (Google her) 
shot in the back a week after dancing for the 
president, or a young man filled with promise and 
ambition whose murder might not make national 
news, but whose loss is felt like that of a family 
member to many here in Sierra Madre; there’s talk 
about guns for a while, and then it fades away.

 The NRA, however, is not letting up. (First 
off, no more of this crap about the NRA being 
an organization of gun owners. It’s a lobbying 
front, whose purpose is to bribe and/or threaten 
legislators to favor the arms merchants sitting on 
its board.) A month ago, the NRA filed with the 
Supreme Court a motion to overturn a lower court 
ruling upholding a 1968 law preventing minors 
from buying handguns and ammo from licensed 
dealers. The way it is now, those 18, 19 and 20 
years old can buy rifles and shotguns from dealers, 
but handguns and ammo only from private sellers. 
The NRA, though, is determined to remove any 
inconvenience for teens wanting to acquire 
handguns and bullets – so they can be ready next 
time they spot somebody on the street or in a park 
they think might be a rival gang member.

 The NRA keeps their toadies in Congress 
busy, too. In July, Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and 
David Price (D-NC) offered an amendment to an 
appropriations bill that would allow the Dept. of 
Justice to block someone on the FBI’s terrorist 
watch list from buying firearms and explosives. 
Republicans, at the behest of their masters at the 
NRA, had it killed in committee. 

 Rep. Lowey issued a statement: “Americans 
expect our government to keep guns out of the 
hands of felons, domestic abusers, the mentally ill 
and terrorists. A suspected terrorist cannot board 
a plane but can pass a background check to buy a 
gun.” She called Republican opposition “absurd”. 
The NRA terms such legislation “extremist”.

 The U.S. has the world’s highest per-capita gun 
ownership rate, way above second-place Yemen, 
and in the gun-related murder rate we’re bested 
only by number one Mexico.

 Regarding President Clinton’s comment above, 
a 2002 federal law mandates that first-time voters 
who didn’t register in person show ID at the polling 
place. In 39 states, no ID or background check is 
ever necessary to buy an assault rifle at gun shows, 
flea markets or from private sellers. In the wake 
of the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of key 
parts of the Voting Rights Act, a number of states 
are rushing to pass voter suppression measures 
intended to make it harder for the poor, the elderly, 
minorities and students to vote. In many of these 
same states, any attempt to inconvenience thugs 
and psychos wanting to pick up an AR-15 would 
be regarded as infringing on cherished rights.

 Last month another 22-year-old young man’s 
murder made news. Chris Lane came from his 
native Melbourne, Australia after accepting a 
college baseball scholarship in Oklahoma. The 
news here was centered on the horror of a random 
killing by teens who were “bored”. 

 In Australia, the focus was different: “The U.S. has 
chosen the pathway of illogical policy with regard 
to guns . . . I am angry because it is corrupting 
the world, this gun culture of the United States.”, 
said Australia’s former deputy prime minister, 
Tim Fischer. He pointed out that most illegally 
obtained guns used in crimes in Australia come 
from the U.S., and an Aussie visiting the U.S. is, 
per capita, 15 times more likely to be shot dead 
than if they stayed home.

 There have been suggestions it’s unseemly to 
use tragic events as an excuse to raise a political 
issue like gun control. The unseemliness is in the 
fact that, time after time we allow our efforts to 
dissipate. Whatever we do, the fact is that the 
efforts of those opposing sanity in gun legislation, 
those who profit from the carnage, are not going 
to let up.

 We can debate whether or not President 
Obama should have delayed action in Syria 
in order to formally take the issue to Congress 
for affirmation, but whatever the outcome, the 
arguments the Obama administration is making 
to use force at least represent a fairly significant 
victory in the political battle over America’s role 
in the world.

 For too long, this president, and many on 
the left, have explicitly and implicitly made the 
argument that American intervention around the 
world has been a cause of the world’s problems, 
rather than an attempted solution to those 
problems. Hence, we’ve heard about “specific 
timetables for withdrawal”, the efficacy of 
“leading from behind” and various “resets” with 
this country or that people group, and America’s 
international involvement has clearly decreased 
during President Obama’s tenure. The result, 
however, has not been what the Left predicted, 
and The President is having to come to terms 
with the reality that the world doesn’t operate the 
way the Left supposes it should. 

 Several days ago, Secretary of State, John Kerry, 
succinctly and accurately clarified the issues at 
hand. “We know”, he said, “that after a decade 
of conflict, the American people are tired of 
war. Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not 
absolve us of our responsibility.” The statement, 
of course, begs the question of what is America’s 

 If America’s responsibility is only to itself, 
to its own parochial, selfish, interests, then we 
wouldn’t be having this debate about Syria. But 
the unrelenting fact is that the United States is the 
only country on this planet which can prevent 
Syria’s Assad, and Iran’s mad Mullahs, from using 
chemical, biological and/or nuclear weapons. 
Like it or not, we have a greater responsibility 
than to just ourselves; we are the policeman on 
the block.

 America is sometimes blessed to have support 
from other nations, but without doubt it is 
America’s presence which determines whether 
an issue will be settled. We are the guarantor 
of world order. We guarantee a pax Americana 
in the same way that a 
century and a half ago 
Britain guaranteed a pax 
Britannia although there 
are key differences in the 
nature of the peace and 
world order which each 
country provided.

 In its early years, 
Britain colonized much of 
the world, and then mastered control of the seas 
in order to protect its mercantile interests. As 
selfish as the goal may have been, one of the great 
beneficent outcomes of that pax was freedom 
of the seas, reliable commerce across them, 
benefiting both exporter and importer alike, and 
the introduction of the rule of law in many far 
away lands. America, on the other hand, never 
established a great chain of colonies across the 
globe. We have invaded more often than not 
to enforce a worthy principle of democracy or 
freedom and/or to alleviate great suffering. In 
doing so, we have voluntarily left each country 
we’ve occupied unless the citizenry of that 
country has requested a longer stay. It may seem 
trite to say, but women and children do not shed 
tears of anguish or fear when American soldiers 
show up in their villages, towns or countries.

 We are not perfect, but there can be little doubt 
that America has accomplished more good in 
the world than any other country in any other 
time period in the long span of recorded human 
history. We save people, free people, feed and 
clothe people, and then give them back a country 
in significantly better shape than when we first 

 In a sense today, we are returning to a consensus 
that was shared by members of both political 
parties for most of America’s history. It was only 
in relatively recent years that the Left offered 
a libelous alternative story line of American 
occupation. Remember, it was a democrat, 
President John Kennedy, who said, “Let every 
nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that 
we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any 
hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to 
assure the survival and the success of liberty”. 
And it was Republican Senator, 
Vandenburg, who in response told 
a nation that politics stopped “at the 
water’s edge”. 

 President Kennedy rallied a nation 
after a similar period of protracted 
conflict – WWII and the Korean 
War. Yet, there he was arguing for the 
necessity that the one world power 
act on behalf of what was right, not 
what was simply in its selfish interest. 
Our current president has thankfully 
returned to this theme. We can 
only hope that he is not too late or 
perceived as too cynical to finally 
lead a nation to do what is right. 

About the author: Gregory J. Welborn 
is a freelance writer and has 
spoken to several civic and religious 
organizations on cultural and moral 
issues. He lives in the Los Angeles 
area with his wife and 3 children and 
is active in the community. He can 
be reached