Gun Sanity

There has been a terrible tragedy in Ohio. A young man went to Chardin High School and started shooting at the students. Three were killed and another two have been hospitalized.

Naturally, the Left has lost no time in exploiting this crime in order to push gun control, as witness this editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal. This editorial, which they titled “Gun Insanity” is shameless and more than a little dishonest.I’ll give a few excerpts.

The shootings Monday at a suburban Cleveland high school that have now claimed three students’ lives will evoke widespread grief and horror, as they should. They will produce a search for motives and explanations, and there are already hypotheses regarding the teen-age shooter involving bullying, isolation and undetected personal problems. There will be discussion of the role of parenting and social media in such tragedies.What one can be absolutely certain of in today’s America, however, is that no serious political or public pressure will be brought to bear on the national madness that makes such slaughters not only possible but inevitable: an addiction to guns that is so sweeping that it all but prevents limiting access to firearms even by the millions of disturbed American adults and adolescents.

In a world that often emulates the United States, the American obsession with guns, and its Second Amendment that has been twisted to justify nearly unfettered private ownership of even the most powerful military and police firearms, is rejected by every advanced nation — and with good reason. In the January 2011 edition of the Journal of Trauma, researchers compared gun death rates in 23 advanced nations and found that the American numbers were by far the worst.The report noted: “Among these 23 countries, 80 percent of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86 percent of women killed by firearms were U.S. women, and 87 percent of children [up to the age of] 14 killed by firearms were U.S. children.”

The Second Amendment has been twisted? Here is that amendment in its entirety.

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.

I don’t see how anyone would get the idea that the Second Amendment allows gun ownership, except that it is stated in plain English. The only people doing the twisting are activist judges who state the amendment means the precise opposite of its actual words.

Now, as to the level of gun deaths in the United States. I agree that too many people are murdered in this country. I wonder though, if the editors of the Courier-Journal have bothered to examine the evidence that the increasing number of states with concealed carry laws have been associated with lower crime rates, and see this chart. They might have noticed that the jurisdictions with the strictest gun control laws have the highest crime rates. They might also have observed that since Britain all but banned private ownership of firearms, the crime rate there has been exploding.

The editorial does end on a high note, at least to me.

No matter. There is no political will even to ban assault rifles and rapid-fire guns. Proposals to register guns, just like cars, don’t even get a hearing. States’ rights advocates perversely insist that local and state gun-control laws be superseded by higher authority.

Thank goodness. This, like so many other issues today, is a freedom issue.



Leap Day

Since today, a leap day, occurs only once every four years, I thought I might like to write a little about why we have leap years and where the idea originated. Our calendar ultimately comes from the calendar used by the Romans. The names of the months and the number of days in each month are basically the same, though the year originally began in March and the Romans did not count the days from the beginning of the month but counted backwards from three fixed days, the kalends, the nones, and the ides.

The Roman calendar was, like many ancient calendars, a lunisolar calendar with a intercalary month added at intervals to keep the dates aligned with the seasons. The responsibility for inserting the intercalary month lay with the Pontifex Maximus, the leader of the order of Priests called the Pontiffs. (One of the titles of the Pope is the Pontiff.) Unfortunately this position was a political one and the Pontiffs got in the habit of inserting the extra month to prolong the terms of their political allies, or not inserting it if their enemies were in office. By the time of Julius Caesar the date was three months behind the seasons.

In 46 BC, Caesar returned to Rome from Egypt. The Egyptians had long used a solar calendar of 365 days. Caesar brought mathematicians and astronomers from  Alexandria with him and he directed them to reform the Roman calendar. The calendar they developed is called the Julian Calender. In this new calendar, they changed the first month to January and gave each month the number of days it now contains. Most importantly, they did away with the intercalary months altogether. The Julian calendar was to be solely a solar calendar and the months would have no relation to the moon. Caesar lengthened the year 46 BC to 445 days to bring the date back in alignment with the seasons. This year was called the year of confusion, but it was the last year of confusion as the Julian calendar was adopted throughout the Roman world and is used with some modifications to this day.

The most important reform the Greek astronomers made was the introduction of the Leap Year. The problem is that the year is not exactly 365 days. Instead, as the astronomers had learned, the year is closed to 365 1/4 days. So, it seemed that an easy way to keep the date aligned was to simply add a day every four years. And so, since Caesar’s reform of the calendar, we have had leap years every four years.