We need a hero

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In his vivid, in-depth profile of Judge Joseph F. Weis Jr., who died March 19 at age 91 (“Judge Celebrated in Court, on Battlefield,” March 20), Torsten Ove brought this uncommon man to life through his descriptions of Judge Weis’ garnering medals for his valor during World War II, mentoring new judges with “remarkable generosity and kindness,” living a life grounded in his faith … a man who became “the model of an appellate judge — fair, scholarly, very patient,” according to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, with whom he spent 15 years on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As I read his obituary, I felt a sense of relief that such valiant people exist, for it is so rare to encounter one in the public eye who displays such courage, compassion and professional excellence as Judge Weis did. Re-reading his obituary later, the word “hero” kept springing to mind.

Then my mind leapt to an opposite pole: the dark power wielded by the National Rifle Association. Now I find myself ruminating on whether we still have any heroes like Judge Weis. Is there anyone willing to challenge the NRA and its blatant disregard for human life? Is there someone or some group courageous and savvy enough to diminish — or vanquish — the NRA’s shocking power to get laws passed that are clearly intended to increase access to death-dealing products?

Until such a hero emerges, I urge the Post-Gazette to investigate lawmakers who accept NRA blood money and to publish their names so that voters who are truly pro-life can vote them out. Even better, how about stringing their photos above the masthead and titling it “The Hall of Shame”?

Our collective passivity in the face of the NRA’s power is akin to the silence of lambs going to slaughter.


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