Reflections from the River

June 6th and the Second Amendment

June 06, 2022 Bill Enyart
Reflections from the River
June 6th and the Second Amendment
Show Notes Transcript

Rainy June 6th and the anniversary of D-day, the Allied invasion of Nazi occupied Europe, and one old soldier's thoughts about murder in our schools, churches, grocery stores and city streets.

June 6, 2022. Seventy-eight years ago, today, the Allies launched D-Day. The invasion of Nazi-occupied France. Ten years ago, today, I retired from the Army National Guard as a major general and commander of the Illinois National Guard to run successfully for Congress.

Today is just over the one-hundred-day mark since Russia invaded Ukraine to the dismay and disgust of the Western world. Today we are not embroiled in war in Afghanistan nor Iraq, as we had been for the previous twenty June 6ths. 

Although we have no troops on the ground in Ukraine, we’ve been pouring weapons in so the Ukrainians may defend themselves and have been moving troops into NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe.

All this as gasoline prices soar, inflation rampages through the grocery aisles and shortages of computer chips, baby formula and labor decimate supply chains. Rainy, cold weather has Midwestern farmers behind planting schedule and devastated my spring bicycle training regimen.

All of this has me gloomy as I rise on a Monday morning. But there is good news. News not heard on cable news, nor read in the paper, nor seen on television. 

The purple climatis hanging on the neighbor’s fence spreads its blooms wide to brighten the view from my second-floor study with its wall of windows. The gingko tree planted a decade ago to replace the storm damaged tree that so loyally shaded my southwest facing retreat from noon til early evening, has now grown to tower over the eaves to provide a few hours respite from the Southern Illinois sun.

Both sons are fully employed in career enhancing professional jobs for the first time since before the pandemic began. And only grandson continues his seven-year unbroken string of straight A’s in school. 

A brief morning summer thunderstorm just rolled through interrupting walking the Yellow Labrador Retriever and likely eliminating the possibility of a morning bike ride or an attack on the weeds that threaten to overtake the decades-old plantings surrounding our century-old brick house.

Rain stops, dog walk resumes, now the humidity will rise. It is after all the Mississippi River valley. Home to heat, humidity and pollen. 

Meanwhile on a grimmer note this D-day anniversary, gun violence continues unabated. The gun industry and the Republicans have sold too many Americans on fear. Fear spurs gun buying. Gun buying increases the availability of guns. Greater availability of guns increases the likelihood they’ll be used. Increases the likelihood they’ll fall into the hands of those who will use them to avenge whatever grievances they carry.

Other than brief sojurns for education and military duty, I’ve lived in the St. Louis metro region for the last fifty-three years. During that time the most serious criminal problem I’ve had is a broken car window when I parked my car on the street and teenagers broke into it to steal the parking meter change in the cupholder. Lucky enough considering  St. Louis is usually ranked number one in the country for murders. 

During my twenty-five-year legal career, I had three clients murdered. Two by spouses. One by an unknown assailant. Two of them women…the two murdered by their spouses. All of them white. All of them working class. Two of them shot. One stabbed. A grim toll. A testament to the cost of domestic violence. 

I don’t know if that’s an unusual number of murdered clients. I’ve never discussed it with other lawyers. Maybe it’s average. Maybe it’s less than average. Maybe it’s more, a lot more, than average. 

Clearly though the toll of gun violence is increasing. The scourge of mass murders in schools, the racially and religiously motivated massacres we’ve seen perpetrated by young white men has me questioning whether we are at war with ourselves or are young white men at war with us. The statistic I see quoted that young black men are twenty times more likely to be murdered than young white men raises yet more questions.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 45,000 people died due to firearms in 2020, the latest year statistics are fully available. That’s more than ten times the number of servicemember deaths on D-day.

I’ve been a gun owner for nigh on to sixty years. My dad gave me my first shotgun, a JC Higgins .410, for Christmas when I was thirteen-years-old. I still have it. I have fond memories of rabbit hunting over crunching, snow-covered corn stalks as my dad taught me safe gun-handling.

I spent over thirty-five years in the military training with the weapons being used today to murder grade-schoolers. I’ve stood over hospital beds at Walter Reed Army Hospital awarding Purple Hearts to wounded soldiers. I know what military weapons can do. I also know what they should not do. They should not be murdering our citizens. To paraphrase the mayor of Buffalo, New York, the sanctity of life is bleeding out on the altar of the Second Amendment. 

The Second Amendment 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.

What is it about “well regulated militia” that the Supreme Court doesn’t understand.

© William L. Enyart, 2022


Audio production by : Tom Calhoun