Zero Hour The Second Amendment
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office holds an annual gun buyback program, urging local residents to turn in their weapons in return for a gift certificate for gas or food. Paul Castaneda says a lot more needs to be done about guns than that. (Photo by Michael Freeman).



I have struggled with this column for days now. I knew what I wanted to say. I knew that I needed to say it. But, I worried. Worried about repercussions…repercussions from friends, business associates, clients. But, at the end of it all, one still has to look at oneself in the mirror and be able to live with what one did or did not do. And so here goes nothing…
There are no words … no words to adequately describe the horrific tragedy visited upon Connecticut. Even more horrific is the fact that it was entirely predictable and in many ways preventable.
I know, I know. Many will say that statement is ludicrous. They will say that as long as there are evil or mad people in the world, these events will occur. I’m sorry … that is utter and absolute crap. It is crap born out of laziness, out of lack of critical thinking, out of an inability to do that which is necessary for the greater good.
It is disgusting. And we are all guilty, each and every one of us, for allowing it to happen (my thanks to Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim for calling us all on it in his press conference the other evening following his 900th career victory).
The answers aren’t hard, just politically difficult.  But politics shouldn’t matter at a time like this.  Twenty young lives were snuffed out last Friday. Twenty six-and seven-year-olds will never grow up to be all that their human potential would have allowed, good or bad.  Twenty beautiful young children spent their last moments on this planet in abject terror as a madman gunned them down without even a moment’s hesitation.
Don’t allow yourself to let your mind and your heart wander from that fact — not for a moment.  Let that resonate and break you down, as it did me when I hugged my six and nine-year-old stepsons in the wake of that carnage.  Let the thoughts of that massacre bounce around your head as you hear pundits and politicians tell you that something must be done — or shouldn’t be done.  Let it fill you with anger and disgust as you wait for something, anything, to be done.
And then realize that this is just the latest and greatest of the hits our nation has taken in such a short span as our craze for our “rights to bear arms” precluded any rational attempts to stop the madness.  Exaggerating, am I?  Let’s look at the facts:

  • April 16, 2007 — Virginia Tech campus, Blacksburg, Va. — 33 dead (including gunman), 23 injured.
  • October 7, 2007 — Crandon, Wis. — 7 dead (including gunman), 1 injured.
  • December 5, 2007 — Omaha, Neb. — 9 dead (including gunman).
  • February 7, 2008 — Kirkwood, Mo. — 7 dead (including gunman), 1 injured.
  • February 14, 2008 — Northern Illinois University campus, DeKalb, Ill. — 6 dead (including gunman, 21 injured).
  • June 25, 2008 — Henderson, Ky. — 6 dead (including gunman), 1 injured.
  • March 29, 2009 — Carthage, N.C. — 8 dead, 3 injured (including gunman).
  • March 10, 2009 — Geneva County, Ala. — 11 dead (including gunman), 6 injured.
  • April 3, 2009 — Binghamton, N.Y. — 14 dead (including gunman), 4 injured.
  • November 5, 2009 — Fort Hood, Texas — 13 dead, 30 injured (including gunman).
  • November 29, 2009 — Parkland, Wash. — 5 dead (including gunman).
  • August 3, 2010 — Manchester, Conn. — 9 dead (including gunman), 2 injured.
  • January 8, 2011 — Tucson, Ariz. — 6 dead, 14 injured.
  • October 12, 2011 — Seal Beach, Calif. — 8 dead, 1 injured.
  • February 22, 2012 — Norcross, Ga. — 5 dead (including gunman).
  • April 2, 2012 — Oakland, Calif. — 7 dead.
  • May 31, 2012 — Seattle, Wash. — 6 dead (including gunman).
  • July 20, 2012 — Aurora, Colo. — 12 dead, 59 injured.
  • August 5, 2012 — Oak Creek, Wis. — 7 dead (including gunman), 4 injured.
  • September 27, 2012 — Minneapolis, Minn. — 7 dead (including gunman), 2 injured.
  • December 14, 2012 — Newtown, Conn. — 27 dead (including gunman).

And this list is incomplete.  So, tell me again how we take the safety of our citizens seriously.  Explain how these are unavoidable random acts of evil.  Tell me again how your right to bear arms exceeds my rights to be protected from violence and death at the hands of my fellow citizens.
Tell me as my blood boils.  Explain to me as I seeth with anger.  Educate me as I fight the urge to run screaming up and down city blocks, railing at my fellow humans to take to the streets in protest.
The 2nd Amendment, you say?  Do you even know or understand what that amendment says in full?  It reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”   As Justice Antonin Scalia loves to note, we should always opt for literal interpretation of the Constitution and its Amendments.  That being the case, there is no “well regulated militia” at present, which is what the second sentence right to bear arms refers to.  So, you see, there is no absolute right to bear arms, no matter what bullcrap you’ve been fed.
Even if you disagree with my interpretation (which is on very sound footing), there is certainly no right to bear any arms you’d like, or to bear them regardless of your criminal record, your mental condition or the same factors as they pertain to members of your household.  The TRUTH is that we can fix this problem tomorrow, before another innocent dies, if we are willing to put our people ahead of politics and money and greed.  It’s quite simple really.  How?  Well:

  • Ban all assault weapons, both automatic and semi automatic.  Frankly, ban every gun, rifle, etc., that does not have an explicit use in hunting or personal protection as apparent to right-thinking people.
  • Require a 60-day waiting period from the time of application for a weapon in order to conduct a complete and thorough background check to include criminal history, mental health and the same for members of the household where the weapon will be lodged.
  • Close ALL loopholes in existence for the purchasing of guns, including at gun shows.
  • Make the illegal possession and sale of all guns punishable by an automatic 25-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

Too rigid, you say?  Un-American, you say?  Do me a favor, say that to me after watching those 20 little caskets being laid to rest.
Explain it to me while sitting alongside the parents of those slain innocents.
Convince me as we look at the pictures of  Charlotte Bacon (six years old), Daniel Barden (7), Olivia Engel (6), Josephine Gay (7), Ana Marquez-Greene (6), Dylan Hockley (6), Madeline Hsu (6), Catherine Hubbard (6), Chase Kowalski (7), Jesse Lewis (6), James Mattioli (6), Grace McDonnell (7), Emile Parker (6), Jack Pinto (6), Noah Pozner (6), Caroline Previdi (6), Jesse Rekos (6), Avielle Richman (6), Benjamin Wheeler (6), and Allison Wyatt (6).
And if you are able to do that, then explain to me how it is that you sleep at night … how it is that you rationalize the massacres, one upon the other?
How many?  How many must die before true change happens, before you and I and all our fellow citizens demand it?


Contact Paul Castaneda at



  1. Paul love it.
    Not controversial at all. But short sighted. Let me explain. You stopped too short.
    I agree with every gun ban and/or regulation you have stated because you balanced it with this: “. . .that does not have an explicit use in hunting or personal protection”

    It is not controversial to think those things. It is common sense.

    Where you fall short is this. The one thing that all those tragedies have in common are guns. This is true. So get rid of the guns, or at least get rid of the easy availability to those guns.
    Now what?
    You have to include a ton of other massacres and horribly violent acts that do NOT include guns. Just people.
    Our mental health system in this United States is a shambles. I adore Ronald Reagan for so many things, but his dismantling of this system so many decades ago was a failure, as has been the ontoing refusal to look at this system and recognize the fact that it is not working.
    1) Do ALL you have stated above 2) Revamp and revitalize the mental health system and realize it is not “politically incorrect” to state that some people need to get that kind of help. 3) make reporting of violent probability a MANDATORY thing. We recognize now this could have helped greatly in many of the above situations – hindsight is 20/20 is it not?
    Recognize that some people need help and do NOT belong on the streets. They are dangerous. I am waiting with patience to hear about Adam Lanza, but from what it superficially appears, he was NOT getting the ongoing help he needed, and his mother did NOT seem to be situated to assist him in the ways he needed. This is not an excuse, it is a fact. It is not a defense of Lanza, it is an admonition to all those who sat back and worried about him, or saw his tendencies and did NOTHING. By the way, all this talk about autism and/or apsergers – guess what, one of the symptoms of some forms of these is VIOLENCE. It is just too “pc” to bring that up. That does not mean to say all individuals who have these are violent, but if you do a quick search yo uwill discover that violent propensity is a possible symptom for some who have these.
    Or. We could just ignore it like the “expert” on CNN the other day who said “The peronality disorders are a red herring, the fact is this was a sick and deranged individual”. That is what is wrong. The more we make these individuals out to be the “devil” the more this will occur. The more we recognize that fact that after gun control we NEED to understand that sometimes that violence lives next door, or in our very own families – the more we may finally be able to curb it somewhat.

  2. The law says Americans have the right to bear arms. The second amendment also includes the words ‘well regulated militia’. The issue is not the weapons themselves but the ammunition clips and the high speed capability. Allow everyone to have as many weapons as they would like. Just limit the ammo to one shot at a time just like our forefathers saw when they placed the second amendment into the constitution.

    If these knuckleheads had to take time to reload their weapons after firing a shot or use a seperate weapon after each shot there would still be unfortunate occurances but the carnage would not be nearly as great.

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