Edmund Burke's observation, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." is still true today. The deepest roots of American society are being poisoned by our collective failure to act responsibly regarding gun violence in America.
I recently wrote to U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop about gun issues, but before I explain his response, I want to establish a modicum of credibility. During the evening of July 19, 1976, I was responsible for telling Max Jensen's young wife that he had been shot by Gary Gilmore.
As you will recall, Gary Gilmore was executed by a volunteer Utah firing squad and was the subject of Norman Mailer's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Executioner's Song." I would not allow Orem police officers to volunteer.
While working as a DEA Agent in Yuma, Ariz., I was shot by a heroin dealer by the name of Jimmy Santiago Baca. The name has not been changed to protect the innocent because he was guilty as hell. Please "Google" Jimmy Santiago Baca. While in the Arizona State Prison he became a renowned poet.
I only mention these events to substantiate my position on gun control. I didn't arrive at my positions on this critical issue from television programs or the latest macho movie. For over 30 years, I was required to qualify with a firearm every three months.
I asked Congressman Bishop, my representative, to support the ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines. His response was "I am skeptical of any actions by this Administration. When their record on guns includes things like the failed Fast and Furious gun running program, there is justification for skepticism."
This "tit for tat" thinking is one of the major stumbling blocks in Congress. Stop and think, should we blame the mayor of Ogden for the recent police raid problems? The executives in Ogden city government and the Ogden City Police Department are working together to insure problems are solved.
The mistakes I made as a DEA agent supervisor were my responsibility -- not the president of the United States. Blaming the president for actions taken by federal law enforcement is utter nonsense. It is nothing more than groping for excuses to not act responsibly. Is this a modern day example of a lot of good men doing nothing?
When the 9/11 attack occurred, as Americans, we moved mountains to prevent further attacks on our homeland. Congress quickly passed the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security was formed, and we all accepted the airport security measures put in place by the newly formed TSA.
Remember, just over 3,000 citizens were killed in the 9/11 attack. Every year in America, over 30,000 citizens are killed by gun violence. Why do some good men, who know that over 30,000 people will die in the coming year, choose to do nothing? The status of good men, and thus the status of good government, is measured by the degree to which we succeed in elevating reason over self-benefit or emotion.
In both of Thomas Jefferson's inaugural addresses, he stated, "We must unite in common efforts for the common good." Saving the lives of over 30,000 Americans in the coming year is a common good. Don't let clever arguments that can put our ethics to sleep weave their way into your heart. The congressional religion, that worships reelection over the common good for all Americans, has become our Trojan Horse. Assault rifles and high capacity magazines cannot be part of our common good.
Robert C. Wadman is professor, emeritus, criminal justice department, at Weber State University.