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Democracy, republic: Not at all the same thing

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Date published: 3/31/2013

Wayne LaPierre's and Michael Bloomberg's claims of public support for their positions on guns misses the point of any debate because it does not matter whether you have public support or not ["Gun control focus is on background checks," March 22]. That is what a democracy is--laws by the whim of a majority of voters.

For those who do not understand the difference between a democracy and a republic, this is a prime example. The responsibility of the government for a republic is to secure the rights of its citizens even if protecting a minority against the opinion of a majority. This is why we allow Nazis to hold parades--to protect their rights under the First Amendment. Any talk of public opinion, or writing laws because a majority wants it, is wrong.

The Second Amendment is part of the Constitution. The government's role is to secure this right for everyone. A mechanism for change to the Constitution exists. If one disagrees with the provisions of any amendment, you can ask your congressman to draft a constitutional amendment to change it. Several amendments have been placed into law over our history, so it can be done.

In this age of instant gratification, the opinion of a majority of voters are winning on every front as Congress rushes to pass something to appease them, forgetting that its primary responsibility is to uphold the Constitution even if you disagree with it.

I'm waiting to see the federal government step up to the states that are passing heavy restrictions on the Second Amendment and tell them that federal law trumps state law. Why would we allow the turning of law-abiding residents of one state into instant criminals as they pass into another?

Stephen Despres

King George